The automotive world is no stranger to legends, but what happens when a celebrated Formula 1 engineer from the ’80s and ’90s looks back to an era a quarter-century earlier for inspiration?
Enter Steve Nichols, whose passion for the past ignited a remarkable journey out of retirement to create something truly extraordinary. The result? The Nichols N1A race-inspired roadster – a stunning fusion of vintage charm and cutting-edge technology that pays homage to the golden age of racing while paving the way for the future of supercars.
With its mesmerizing curves, fierce edges, and polished components, the N1A is a testament to the elegance of the 1960s, reimagined for the streets of the 2020s and beyond.
In 2017, Nichols unveiled his audacious dream – a street-legal supercar like no other, the Nichols N1A. Best known for his stint as lead designer at McLaren, where he played a pivotal role in the creation of iconic masterpieces like the MP4/3 and the unstoppable MP4/4, driven to 15 victories out of 16 races during the legendary 1988 season by the incomparable duo of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
But Nichols had a different vision in mind – instead of relishing in his own triumphs, he set out to breathe life into the magic of a bygone era, where race cars and high-performance roadsters shared a seamless bond. Staying true to his McLaren roots, he found inspiration in the McLaren M1A, using it as a loose blueprint to revive its spirit, modernized for the automotive landscape of the 2020s.
The essence of the M1A is unmistakably woven into the fabric of the N1A’s design, evident from its very name. Spanning an impressive 169 inches (430 cm) in length, the N1A flaunts rollercoaster-like curves, a nose that gracefully kisses the ground, and a saddle-like transition between high-arched fenders – reminiscent of the iconic M1A. Subtle yet striking details, such as the concealed grille beneath the hood crease and the sunken headlamps glowing with allure, pay homage to the original McLaren design.
Drawing from his groundbreaking work with carbon fiber construction in the world of F1, Nichols made sure that the N1A embodied the same lightweight magic. Its swoopy body is skillfully crafted from graphene-infused carbon fiber, elegantly draped over a carbon and aluminum chassis, allowing the two-seater to dance on the scales at a mere 1,985 pounds (900 kg).
But the N1A is not just about aesthetics; it’s a beast on the road too. Under the hood roars a mighty 7.0-liter LS3-block V8 engine, unleashing an awe-inspiring 650 hp to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual Graziano transmission. Hand-fabricated front and rear double wishbones ensure the car’s firm grip on the road, while multi-piston brakes bring it to a halt with precision.
In Nichols’ own words, “Having experienced amazing racing cars over the decades, I’ve never been able to implement those quirky qualities into a road car until now. The process from pencil to production model has been extremely gratifying – this should remind the entire automotive industry that combining the past, present, and looking to the future is the way forward for this entire community.”
While the N1A’s price remains a mystery, its exclusivity is beyond doubt. With production capped at a mere 100 examples, this extraordinary masterpiece will undoubtedly be a prized possession beyond the reach of the masses, epitomizing the perfect fusion of luxury and legacy.
And for the privileged few, the top-spec launch edition of just 15 units will stand as a rare tribute to individual MP4/4 victories, adding an extra layer of prestige to an already exceptional creation.