Rumor: McLaren MP4-12C Spider to receive a carbon fiber folding roof

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 11, 2012

The roofing system of Ferrari’s new 458 Spider will be slightly different from the MP4-12C Spider by McLaren. Ferrari had recently launched a ground-breaking folding roof system that comprises mostly aluminum. Meanwhile, McLaren will probably use carbon fiber, which is lighter and sturdier. Months ago, a prototype of the MP4-12C Spider was spotted while testing. It appears slightly different from its hard-top cousin so that it could bear the new roof mechanism.

Auto Motor und Sport said that similar to the system used on the 458 Spider, the roof on the McLaren MP4-12C Spider will flip backwards initially. It will then retract vertically into a small recess positioned between the engine bay and passenger compartment.

Ferrari pioneered the mid-engined car with a retractable hard-top but McLaren is slated to be first to accomplish the same with carbon fiber, says MotorAuthority.

If not for this difference, the MP4-12C Spider would be essentially identical to its hard-top counterpart. However, there may be some slight engine and suspension changes to guarantee an excellent performance when the top is down.

The car’s twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 engine is expected to sustain a peak output of 592hp and 440 pound-feet of torque. In addition, drive is still expected to go to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox.

Sheriff noted that the 12C Spider is not a convertible version of the 12C, since both models were conceived and developed at the same time, alongside each other. Right from the start, McLaren’s 12C program included a coupé and convertible, with carbon fiber MonoCell chassis and other mechanical components designed to allow both models to eke out maximum performance.

Sheriff added that the 12C Spider adheres to McLaren’s overriding principle of having every component as 'Pure McLaren.' In fact, not one part was sourced from other manufacturers, as all of them were conceived, designed and produced to meet McLaren’s specs. This principle is being adhered in order to make sure that performance, efficiency and driving enjoyment are being maximized.

He added that by endowing the 12C Spider with the same performance, handling and ride attributes as the 12C, McLaren has managed to innovate. Of course, every part of the 12C Spider is there for a certain reason, stripping the convertible free of any unnecessary styling frivolities.

As a result, the 12C became a pure sports car that could deliver maximum driving appeal, performance and efficiency. Design Director Frank Stephenson noted that the new McLaren 12C Spider is a racing car “at heart,” something that is not true of many other high-performance convertibles. He remarked that the 12C Spider features the same timeless elegant style of the 12C blended with vaunted romance of open-top driving.

He added that McLaren was able to preserve the 12 Spider’s design purity. In fact, when the roof is deployed, the 12C Spider looks like a coupé sports car that belongs to Le Mans, London or Los Angeles. When the roof is down, it looks like a car that belongs to Sunset Boulevard or the Cote d'Azur.'

The new 12C Spider features a specially designed Retractable Hard Top (RHT) that is low weight yet high strength and allows for a very high standard of paint finish. This was achieved by using the same composite material for the 12C body on the two roof panels and tonneau. The roof construction is completed by a heated rear glass.

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