This McLaren P1 Drift Car Is Getting A Rotary Swap

Yep, Mad Mike Whiddett’s unlikely drift car just got a whole lot more unlikely
McLaren P1 'MADMAC' drift car - rear
McLaren P1 'MADMAC' drift car - rear

A while ago, we heard of New Zealand drift legend ‘Mad’ Mike Whiddett’s plans to build a drift car out of a McLaren P1. Even when we’ve seen the likes of Lexus LFAs, Ferrari 599s and Lamborghini Murcielagos get turned into sideways smoke machines by some of the braver skid merchants of the world, this seemed like a bold move, and one that might upset a few purists.

Now, those purists will need to prepare to be shocked all over again, as Whiddett has revealed that he’s ripping out the P1’s 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 in favour of a screaming rotary engine.

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The project is a collaboration between Whiddett and UK McLaren specialists Lanzante. The two parties met at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, where the idea for the car was born.

The car is already a mashup of sorts, with the rear bodywork of a P1 LM – Lanzante’s road-legal version of the P1 GTR track car – grafted onto a 650S GT3 racer. It seems it’s the now-retired GT3 car that’s the starting point of the build rather than one of the five P1 LMs ever made.

McLaren P1 'MADMAC' drift car - front
McLaren P1 'MADMAC' drift car - front

With this Frankenstein’s McLaren having made its way to Whiddett’s lab in New Zealand, he set about hacking it up even more, fitting it out with the unique suspension and steering setup needed to make a car achieve some truly ridiculous sideways angles.

Not content with that, though, Whidett decided to ditch the original car’s powerplant. Few people in motorsports are more associated with Mazda’s wailing Wankel rotary engines than he is, so it’s one of those that he’s decided will nestle in the middle of this unhinged machine.

Mike Whiddett sits in the McLaren P1 'MADMAC' drift car
Mike Whiddett sits in the McLaren P1 'MADMAC' drift car

The engine in question is the 20B, a 2.0-litre three-rotor which, in roadgoing form, was only ever used in the Eunos Cosmo. Whiddett’s given it a new lease of life as a shrieking, many-horsepowered drift engine, though, most notably in his ‘BADBUL’ Mazda RX-8.

The team building the car has documented the not-insignificant amount of work needed to shoehorn this engine into a chassis that was never designed around anything remotely resembling it. We’ll get to see the finished car, dubbed ‘MADMAC’, tearing it up at the Goodwood Festival of Speed between 11 and 14 July, where it’ll presumably outdo even the Red Arrows’ display in the amount of noise and smoke it can produce.


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