McLaren F1 – Many will argue that Ferrari or Porsche are the pinnacles of road-going supercars, but McLaren F1 will always remain the ultimate road car for despite what they and Bugatti Veyron do. Unlike many other speed-demons which made its way to the general consumers’ market as race car first and then get detuned for friendlier road-going versions, the McLaren F1 was indeed designed as a road car from the get-go.
Gordon Murray, the man behind McLaren F1 did not even know what kind of market that his creation should try to get into. All he knew was that the car had to be the ultimate road car; and he’s right. Whether or not it would go into competitive racing world was another matter to decide later. What he did not want was to upset consumers by saying that the car would be a limited edition and then ending up producing more than a thousand units, just like what Ferrari did with the F40.
Gordon Murray initially talked to Honda concerning an engine he needed for the car, but without any result. In the end, it was BMW M Division which took serious interest in the engine development and ended up with 6.1L V12 with 618 horsepower, specifically built for the car, capable of reaching 243 miles per hour. There were no turbocharger, no supercharger, no power steering, no ABS, no traction control, no electronically-controlled gearbox; Gordon Murray insisted that it should be naturally aspirated car, and he made it.
The prototype was unveiled at 1992 Monaco Grand Prix, as was the asking price of £634,500. It sounded a lot back then and is still too much now; despite its jaw-dropping price tag, McLaren actually lost money for every F1 that came out of dealership. In total, 106 units were made:
- 69 standard road cars including 5 prototypes
- 28 McLaren F1 GTR race cars, and some of them have been transformed into road going versions
- 6 McLaren F1 LM including 1 tuned prototype
- 3 McLaren F1 GT units including a prototype – also known as the McLaren F1 Longtail versions
Basis concept of the design was anything but extraordinary: lightweight ad powerful. The extraordinary part was that reduction of weight came from the use of uncommon high-tech expensive material such as carbon fiber, magnesium titanium, and Kevlar. The engine bay was gold-plated for best heat dissipation. McLaren F1 was the first production car to use carbon fiber monocoque chassis. Of course all those things are nowadays taken for granted, especially if you are talking about 21st century automotive technology, but they were all over-the-top in the 1990s. To reduce weight even further, Murray decided to use half-thickness leather, and the-already lightweight Kenwood audio system did not even have tuner.
Another thing that made McLaren F1 unique was the center-mounted driver seat. British law was not prepared for such radical design so McLaren had the laws changed for the car. Nothing gets in the way of the driving experience and there are no computerized-stuffs to eliminate the joy of driving. If you are wondering about McLaren F1 price today, it is around $10 million for a perfect condition. Annual service cost is around $50,000.