MILESTONE

MCLAREN F1

Driven - - The Last Word -

In 1994, the Bri­tish car mag­a­zine Au­to­car stated in a road test re­gard­ing the F1, “The McLaren F1 is the finest driv­ing ma­chine yet built for the public road.” They fur­ther stated, “The F1 will be re­mem­bered as one of the great events in the his­tory of the car, and it may pos­si­bly be the fastest pro­duc­tion road car the world will ever see.”

While a bold state­ment, it held true from Au­gust 1993 through to March 1998, when the XP3 pro­to­type and XP5 pro­to­types re­spec­tively, re­turned top speeds in ex­cess of 371 km/h and 386 km/h, un­til it was de­throned by the Koenigsegg CCR in 2005 with a top speed of 388.87 km/h, and in April 2007 by the Bu­gatti Vey­ron 16.4 that clocked 408.47 km/h.

Orig­i­nally con­ceived by chief en­gi­neer, Gor­don Mur­ray – who con­vinced McLaren’s Ron Den­nis to back the project, and en­gaged Peter Stevens to de­sign the ex­te­rior and in­te­rior of the car – the McLaren F1 de­buted many ‘firsts’ for pro­duc­tion cars, in­clud­ing the use of a com­plete car­bon fi­bre re­in­forced poly­mer (CFRP) mono­coque chas­sis struc­ture.

Although Mur­ray ini­tially wooed McLaren’s then For­mula One partner, Honda, to sup­ply the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine that Mur­ray en­vis­aged for the F1, the Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer re­fused, ul­ti­mately lead­ing to him ap­proach­ing BMW M who de­signed and built Mur­ray a 6,064 cc 60-de­gree DOHC V12 en­gine called the BMW S70/2.

Only 106 cars were man­u­fac­tured: five pro­to­types (XP1, XP2, XP3, XP4, XP5); 64 road ver­sions (F1); one tuned pro­to­type (XP1 LM); five tuned ver­sions (LM); one long­tail pro­to­type (XPGT); two long­tail ver­sions (GT); and 28 race­cars (GTR). Pro­duc­tion be­gan in 1992 and ended in 1998, dur­ing which time, each ma­chine took around three and a half months to build.

The F1 re­mains one of the fastest pro­duc­tion cars ever made; although sev­eral cars have suc­ceeded it since then, in­clud­ing the SSC Ul­ti­mate Aero TT, the Hen­nessey Venom GT and the Bu­gatti Vey­ron Su­per Sport. Con­sid­er­ing that all of the higher top speed ma­chines use forced in­duc­tion to reach their re­spec­tive top speeds, while the McLaren F1 is nat­u­rally as­pi­rated, it is no won­der why it re­mains one of the most sought af­ter hy­per cars in the world.

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