If you were asked to name two of the most dramatic supercars of the past two years, undoubtedly, the Lamborghini Aventador and McLaren MP4-12C would feature in most people's reckoning. They represent the pinnacle of performance and design. Each also costs a fortune to own, and it seems unlikely you'll bump into another on your drive to the Hamptons. Yet California styling specialist, Vorsteiner, felt there would be sufficient demand for parts that would make these cars stand out even more.
While most of us would be happy enough simply to drive one of these monsters, Peter Nam, with his Southern California design and production team, decided to attempt what might appear to be the impossible: to give the McLaren MP4-12C and Lamborghini Aventador a bit more attitude!
As the 1990s proved, anybody can screw up a perfectly nice car with a perfectly horrendous wing. Yet Vorsteiner is in the business for the long haul and isn't about to ruin its carefully developed reputation with anything quite so tacky.
Starting with CSL-style upgrades for the E46 M3, Vorsteiner has grown steadily, gaining headlines with its widebody E92 M3 and more recently branching out into Porsche, Mercedes and other luxury brands.
In order to really understand what the Lamborghini owner needed, Peter purchased an Aventador LP700-4 as a company car and immersed himself in its splendor. He was determined to maintain his OEM+ approach - a term usually applied to intelligently modified VWs, but equally applicable here. Apart from its bolder widebody conversion, Vorsteiner has become synonymous with subtle, discreet add-ons that enhance the stock car rather than disguise it under a mass of spoilers.
With a desire for perfection and as an indication that working with the Aventador was far from easy, the conversion would take almost a year to complete to Peter's very high standards. And when you first see it, the carbon fiber additions don't instantly jump out, yet you're still drawn to the car. It simply encourages you to take a closer look, with the additions revealing themselves slowly as your eyes pass along the body. This is a difficult feat to execute because it's easy to underplay everything and nobody notices all your hard work. Equally, it's very easy to go too far and ruin the vehicle you set out to improve.
Aware that Lamborghini and McLaren will never be his company's bread and butter, Peter established Vorsteiner Nero as a banner under which exclusive lines for Ferrari, Bentley and Rolls-Royce will also exist. They will be low volume products, created to the same high standards but separate from BMW, Mercedes, Audi, etc.
One of the reasons the Lamborghini took so long to build was that his team of designers was busy with other projects simultaneously. They worked on our Jaguar XFR project, for example (EC 10/13) as well as the F10 BMW 5 Series and F12/13 6 Series, the new Range Rover plus the McLaren MP4-12C.
While the Lamborghini was digitally scanned and the styling developed in CAD software, running wind tunnel programs to test aerodynamic stability and efficiency, the McLaren approach was old school. The British sports car would have its new components modeled in clay after 3D renderings had established the look they wanted.
Clay modeling is labor intensive, requiring highly skilled designers. And while it can be a longer process, it's possible to visualize the progress and adapt it rapidly. Vorsteiner's facility has a modeling studio with several vehicle lifts, special lighting, temperature control and large stocks of the expensive clay. And while it required a substantial investment, it has allowed the company to further hone its craft to the point where it's turning out stunners such as these.
The Vorsteiner conversion for the McLaren looks relatively straightforward but don't be deceived. It actually includes replacement carbon fiber front and rear bumpers, fitted to the original mounting points. This allowed significant changes to be made without either part looking like an add-on.
It was first seen on our website and Facebook pages after we attended the car's unveiling. The parts were made from dry carbon fiber pre-preg and autoclaved to ensure structural integrity and a high quality finish. The front bumper has revised ducting and new vents on the side, as well as a separate spoiler to increase downforce.
At the rear, the new bumper again has extra vents to evacuate heat from the engine and exhaust. It also has two pronounced tunnels in the rear diffuser to further aid airflow.
The final carbon fiber additions were the four-piece side skirt blades. These sit at the bottom of the car, with one section attached to the scissor doors, opening with them to simplify access.
Another important element of the Vorsteiner conversion was its wheels. In this case it used the one-piece forged VS-110 in 20x9" front and 21x13" rear, which will accept the OE 255/30 and 355/25 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
As a final flourish, the company added a stainless steel sports exhaust system from AWE Tuning in an attempt to unleash some extra power and more of the V8 engine's aural potential.
One year in design and production resulted in one of the stars of this year's SEMA Show. Displayed in the Pirelli booth, the Vorsteiner Aventador-V LP740-4 was a bold statement but it was uttered in the same hushed tones as the McLaren so as not to attract unwanted attention.
And like the MP4, the Lambo was enhanced rather than transformed, created by a team that clearly worked with, rather than fought against, the Aventador's striking lines.
Where the two cars differ is that the Aventador parts were created entirely in 3D after its bodywork had been scanned. The designers would produce and test parts in the computer before having them milled on a five-axis CNC rapid prototyping machine. These parts could then be physically fitted and refined in the software as necessary until the final components were ready. These were then molded and the final carbon fiber pieces were produced in-house.
The resulting body kit is comprehensive, and includes details such as the active carbon rear wing that works with the Lamborghini's onboard electronics and won't trigger a warning light when fitted. It can be raised or lowered as stock and Vorsteiner assured us they tested it to 180mph to verify its functionality.
The two-piece wing isn't simply fitted to the factory item but replaces it. The legs retract fully into the decklid so its operation is exactly as the Italians intended.
Up front there are left and right splitters that channel air under the stock bumper. They have floating winglets on the outer edges that rise towards the bumper to create a sporty profile.
An optional lower lip spoiler can connect the splitters, giving them additional support. It protrudes 5mm further forward and is able to take the impact of any light scuffs. However, the designers were cognizant to maintain as much ground clearance as possible to avoid problems in the first place.
The shape of the splitter winglets is repeated on the side skirt blades, both front and rear. They rise towards the wheels but the blades remain unobtrusive in the middle of the car to avoid unnecessary clutter.
The final element of the body kit is the carbon rear diffuser that replaces the factory item and fits to the original bumper. It's reinforced with kevlar to cope with high temperatures from the exhaust and adds another flourish to the rear of this supercar.
However, you don't have to stop there because Vorsteiner also has an Exterior Carbon Package to replace the OE black trim on the car. The pieces include a carbon fiber Center Splitter for the front bumper, replacing the black piece on the stock car. Then there are four carbon grille frames for the front and rear, as well as the side vent trim and hood trims by the windshield. Although they don't serve any aerodynamic function, these pieces bring more carbon to the party, enriching the experience.
And it doesn't have to stop there. You can, if you choose, have the graphic stripes seen on this car, which are now available from Vorsteiner. Applied over the hood, roof and decklid, it's another option for the Aventador owner.
The conversion wouldn't be complete without Vorsteiner's wheels. In this case the car sits on 20x9" front and 21x13" rear VSE-005 forged, directional wheels. They were fitted with 225/30 and 335/25 Pirelli P Zero tires, respectively.
The reason this car was named the LP740-4 was because it also boasts a Hex Flash, with the new software resulting in an extra 40hp and 35 lb-ft torque, hence 740hp...
So while we don't have driving impressions of either car, we wanted to bring you the background on these American-built conversions that have successfully tackled two of the world's finest automobiles, creating spectacular machines we can drool over and aspire to. However, Peter assures us this isn't the only direction he's taking Vorsteiner, and promised styling for the B8 Audi S4 as the next project for his SoCal company.
While the polished and premium photos from our latest Vorsteiner Aventador and MP4-12C April 2014 cover shoot are seen above thanks to Alex Bernstein, we've also added the behind-the-scenes (BTS) shots sniped while assisting at the closed course. Below you will find those pictures.
For those wondering, this shoot took place at the San Bernadino County Sheriff's EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operations Center) training course in Southern California. The beautiful cover photo occurred on the wet course portion of the facility while the roadway frames happened on the adjacent road course. The facility is rentable and the staff was supremely accommodating.
BTS photos by Mike Sabounchi and Sean Russell