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The guitar and car worlds are fairly cross-over-friendly. Many car people are into guitars and vice versa. However, while guitars and cars are alike in plenty of ways, there are some major differences that can, if not seen to, get cringey quickly. Inspired by the aerodynamically designed bodywork of the McLaren Speedtail, Miami Guitar Luthier Dean Gordon built a guitar to pair with the illustrious McLaren. The problem is, the McLaren is a lovely thing to look at, while the guitar is far less good-looking. The pair is kind of a little bit hilarious – with all due respect. 

The McLaren Speedtail XP2 prototype

In case you aren’t hip to one-off McLaren prototypes, the McLaren Speedtail prototype, which inspired the guitar, is known as XP2 and is a pretty dang fast car. While testing the prototype for production, McLaren’s Chief Test Driver, Kenny Brack, got the Speedtail up 250 mph over 30 different times. 

The Speedtail’s gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain makes more power and torque than any McLaren road car. The Speedtail gets a combined 1,055bhp and 848 lb-ft from its hybrid plant. The straight-line acceleration and maximum speed of the car set new benchmarks for McLaren, with 0-186mph achieved in less than 13 seconds and the Speedtail able to reach 250mph. 

What’s up with this McLaren-inspired guitar? 

Dean Gordon guitar inspired by the McLaren Speedtail XP2 prototype | Dean Gordon
Dean Gordon guitar inspired by the McLaren Speedtail XP2 prototype | Dean Gordon

Guitars, like cars, attract many custom builders. These guitars can perform as well as anything else out there. But most actual players, and definitely collectors, understand that there is something special about finding the one unique production guitar out of thousands. For that reason, most players go for known brands like Fender, Gibson, Taylor, Martin, Gretsch, and so on. 

This is in no way a dig on Gordon, who built this wonky little oblong guitar. However, when you look at the lines, symmetry, and overall sleekness of the McLaren’s design, it’s hard to see how the guitar could possibly have anything to do with the car. The plain giveaway is the matching Saragon Quartz paint color. There are also some subtle red accents that are meant to match the also subtle red accents on the McLaren. Matching paint color or not, the guitar seems a little silly next to the McLaren

Dean Gordon guitar inspired by the McLaren Speedtail XP2 prototype
Dean Gordon guitar inspired by the McLaren Speedtail XP2 prototype | Dean Gordon

“McLaren being synonymous with cutting-edge design and pushing boundaries made it a no-brainer choice of inspiration for my ‘Automotive’ inspired line of guitars,” Gordon described. “These guitars are my artistic exercise, where I not only try to make the best playing and sounding guitars possible but to put an artistic flare on them beyond what I normally do. The Speedtail was the perfect muse.”

The other thing is guitars are heavily dependent on the materials from which they are made. A rosewood guitar sounds very different than a mahogany guitar. Even certain species of each of those woods will sound different than other species of the same wood. The point is when guitars are built for aesthetics over sound quality; you can’t expect much more than a guitar-shaped object. That said, Gordon did use a lightweight Alder . That’s a very common but quality wood used to build guitars for many years. The problem is the guitar’s sound will be affected by the kind of paint used, how much paint there is, all the additions of carbon fiber, and other added elements. 

Cars and guitars

A chart showing the cross over between car and guitar colors
Fender guitars color chart showing the matching car colors | Les Paul Forum

The car and guitar worlds have crossed many times in the past. Some guitar colors come directly from the car world. Fender and Ford would often produce cars and guitars with the same paint code. Some examples of this cross-market interaction are colors like Fiesta Red, Surf Green, Shell Pink, Candy Apple Red, Lake Placid Blue, and Graffiti Yellow, only to name a few. 

While I appreciate the continuation of this guitar and car crossover stuff, this one is a strange pair that doesn’t seem to capture much of the Speedtail’s aesthetic. In an effort to not be a hater or snob (of which I might be both), I took the time to look through some of Gordon’s other instruments, and while they are of a very particular style, they are built using quality materials by what seems like the hands of an expert craftsman.