McLaren 570GT takes flight with new exterior option

10,000 artificial feathers are applied by hand in a 300-hour process

Published: March 31, 2017, 9:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:17 PM

McLaren 570GT Feather Wrap

Anybody who’s seen McLarens in action can attest that they really fly, and that gave the company an idea for a new exterior treatment — feathers.

Through its bespoke division, McLaren Special Operations (MSO), McLaren will offer the unique and time-consuming exterior treatment inspired by biomimicry — an approach to sustainability that’s inspired by nature's time-tested patterns and strategies.

The Feather Wrap will be available as an option on the 570GT, with 10,000 carbon-veined artificial feathers applied by hand in a process that takes 300 hours to complete. The feathers are seven centimetres in length and coated in a pearlescent lacquer, and add just 2.5 kg to the car’s weight, a figure the company says is no more than that of metallic paint.

The company chose the 570GT for the farcical exterior because of its suitability to long “flights” on the road, making it ideally suited for the protective and aerodynamically-sound feather as a performance enhancement.

“Our engineers and designers have long been inspired by nature in our aim to create the lightest and most aerodynamic shapes on the road,” explained the aptly-named Robin Crane, Biomimicry Specialist at McLaren Automotive … yes, they apparently hired one of those. “It was on a beautiful day walking around our Woking campus that one of us looked up at the birds circling our lake, then picked up a feather from the ground and placed it on a car…  That turned into a conversation with the craftsmen and women at MSO that led to the creation of the Feather Wrap.”

The process takes so long because the feathers have to be applied in a precise fashion — parallel to the forward direction — in order to cushion the effects of the air flowing over the car’s body. They act as grooves that help reduce drag, and as they vibrate with increased car speed, they further reduce drag by delaying the transition from a laminar to turbulent boundary of air.

“We’re not usually ones to crow about our achievements but I think we’ve scored a birdie with this one,” concluded Crane, who would not comment on whether the car would need primping after extended highway runs.

The Feather Wrap is available to order today only, April 1st, and only until noon, local time.