What does talk show host Jay Leno, Mr. Bean series star Rowan Atkinson, the late Beatles guitarist George Harrison, tech wizard Elon Musk, and the Sultan of Brunei have in common? If you guessed that they all owned, at one time or another, a McLaren F1 road car, then you’re absolutely right.
Not to be confused with the Formula One (F1) race cars, the McLaren F1 is a sports car designed and manufactured by British automobile manufacturer McLaren Automotive from a concept conceived by chief engineer Gordon Murray. He convinced McLaren big boss Ron Dennis to fund the development of the car and Peter Stevens to design its exterior and interior.
The F1 features numerous proprietary designs and technologies. Lighter and more streamlined than many modern sports cars, it seats three with the driver’s seat located in the center and slightly forward of the two passengers’ seats. The unique seating arrangement provides driver visibility better than that of a conventional seating layout.
To enter the car, its Dihedral doors move up and out like a butterfly’s wings. The 3-place interior features most luxury, comfort and convenience necessities plus a gold-plated Facom titanium tool kit and first aid kit, and a set of tailored luggage bags and golf bag that were specially designed to fit the vehicle’s carpeted storage compartments. Each customer was given a special edition TAG Heuer 6000 Chronometer wristwatch with the serial number of his car scripted below the center stem.
The McLaren F1’s low weight and high power was achieved through use of high-tech and expensive materials such as carbon fiber, titanium, gold, magnesium and kevlar. It was one of the first production cars to use a complete carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) monocoque chassis structure. Aluminum and magnesium attachment points for the suspension system were inserted directly into the CFRP.
The BMW M motorsport division designed and built a 6.1-liter 60º V12 S70/2 engine that churns out 618 hp. The aluminum alloy V12 features chain-driven double overhead camshafts (DOHC), variable valve timing (VVT), 48 valves, and a dry sump oil lubrication system. The carbon fiber body panels and monocoque required significant heat insulation in the engine compartment, so the engine bay was lined with gold foil, with approximately 16 grams of gold used in each car.
There is a small dynamic rear spoiler on the F1’s tail that will adjust automatically to balance the center of gravity of the car under braking. Unassisted, vented and cross-drilled Brembo disc brakes 332 mm at the front and 305 mm at the rear 305 mm are clamped by 4-piston calipers, which are machined from a single solid piece of aluminum for increased stiffness.
The F1 was first unveiled on May 28, 1992 at The Sporting Club in Monaco. A modified F1 race car won several races, including the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans. On March 31, 1998, an F1 XP5 prototype with a modified rev limiter set the Guinness World Record for the world’s fastest production car, reaching 386.4 km/h.
Only 106 cars were manufactured: 5 prototypes (XP1, XP2, XP3, XP4, XP5), 64 road versions (F1), 1 tuned prototype (XP1 LM), 5 tuned versions (LM), 1 long-tail prototype (XPGT), 2 long-tail versions (GT), and 28 race cars (GTR). At the time of production, each car took around three and a half months to make. Production ended in 1998 but as of 2017, the McLaren F1 remains as the fastest naturally-aspirated production car in the world.
Our personal McLaren F1 was NOT made at the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey, England, but at the Maisto factory in Thailand. We had our silver 1:18 die-cast scale model for more than 20 years now and some of the ravages of time, and some play, can be seen on its flanks.
Except for the right front wheel that seems to lift the front portion of the model car, probably because of a bent axle, our F1 seems to be in pretty good nick despite the years. Jay Leno said in his “Jay Leno’s Garage” videos that he’s happy that he kept his McLaren F1 because it’s one of the best cars in his collection. Besides, its value has increased because it’s one of only 106 cars in the whole world. While our personal McLaren F1 won’t increase its value as much as the real car, we’re happy that we kept ours as well. We can proudly claim that as a McLaren F1 owner, we have something in common with Jay, Rowan, George, Elon and the Brunei monarch, except ours doesn’t require a period maintenance service performed by a dedicated mechanic-on-call from England.
To review other scale model super cars that we have previously posted here in the Power Wheels website, please click “The Rack” button on the header bar near the top right of your screen (if you’re using a PC, laptop or tablet), or type “The Rack” on the Search bar if you’re using a mobile phone. If you like our silver McLaren F1, you’ll love the other McLaren we’ll feature tomorrow, so please stay tuned. Cheers!