Will the McLaren F1 ever be surpassed?

Conceived during an off-the-cuff conversation between Ron Dennis, Gordon Murray, Creighton Brown and Mansour Ojjeh while waiting at Milan airport in 1988, the McLaren F1 was (and quite possibly always will be) the ultimate, zero-compromise driver’s car…

Driver-centric

The McLaren F1 is special for myriad reasons, not least for the fact that it was the world’s first carbon-composite production car. From the outset, the driver was at the forefront of the design process, with almost every part rigorously thought out, and produced in-house to Dennis’s near-obsessive standards. The beautifully finished cabin, in particular, is the work of genius, with everything that you need– space, air-conditioning, satellite navigation and a CD-changer, for example – and nothing that you don’t. It was this thought process that made the F1 so versatile; as at home on a cross-continental road-trip, as pounding around a racetrack. 

Bonus brake horsepower

With this in mind, outright speed and performance were never the key factors in the early days of the project. But when Murray heard that Paul Rosche’s new, naturally aspirated BMW V12 was producing 627bhp, some 75bhp more than what had been specified, he quickly forgave the fact that it was 16kg overweight – ultimately, the speed was just a bonus. Revealed for the first time at the Sporting Club in Monaco during the 1992 Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend, its worldwide reception was said to be ‘simply ecstatic’, and perhaps inevitably, prices have been creeping up ever since. 

That personal touch

The dark tangerine-coloured car presented here – chassis 073 – was the 63rd F1 built, and is one of just two road cars fitted with the 691bhp engine from the LM, a special road-going version of the race-going GTR, built by McLaren to commemorate its 1995 Le Mans victory. Additionally, it has the GTR-inspired High-Downforce Kit (with extra louvres atop the front wheel arches and a Gurney flap at the rear), and a number of unique touches such as black dials (complete with engraved chassis number) and forged multi-spoke OZ wheels. What’s more, Gordon Murray himself has hand-signed the exposed tub in the cabin – a mastermind’s seal of approval, if you will.

Delivering the best of both race and road F1 variants, #073 will be offered by RM Sotheby’s as part of The Pinnacle Portfolio at its Monterey sale on 13 August 2015 – a rare opportunity to own what is commonly considered the holy grail of modern motoring...

Photos: Darin Schnabel courtesy of RM Sotheby's © 2015.

You can find the full catalogue for RM Sotheby's Monterey Sale listed in the Classic Driver Market.