More than two decades ago, McLaren began its journey to build "the finest sports car the world has ever seen." That journey would eventually lead to the famous McLaren F1, a supercar penned by Gordon Murray and deemed to be one of the best street-legal race cars ever produced.
Taking cues from its F1 endeavors, the McLaren F1 road car utilizes a carbon-fiber shell that weighs just 220 pounds yet offers impressive rigidity. A BMW-sourced 6.1-liter V-12 puts out 627 horsepower and 586 pound-feet of torque, lofty numbers even by 2010 standards, while a 2500-pound curb weight, ABS-less brakes, and a finely honed double-wishbone suspension kept drivers tuned onto the road. Famously, the F1 had a central seating position, which led to the addition of two passenger seats for a three-seat configuration.
As the F1 road car made headlines for its impeccable handling, detailed packaging, and 3.2-second 0 to 60 mph time, the McLaren crew would also lend their talents to the ongoing racing effort. Three different F1-based race cars were produced from 1995-1997, with the 1995 F1 GTR taking victories in the FIA GT1 class and the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. After the Le Mans win, McLaren commissioned five commemorative F1 LM edition road cars with more power and even less weight (680 horsepower and 2340 pounds).
Development work on the F1 began in 1990 before the supercar was officially launched on May 28, 1992. The first production model, which carried a price tag of $778,000 unadjusted for inflation, was delivered in December 1993. Only 106 F1s, in street, race, and prototype trims, were ever assembled from 1993-1998, ensuring its continued elevated status on the automotive market. In 2008, a pristine F1 was auctioned off for $4.1 million.
Given the illustrious status held by the F1, the original McLaren road car has left big shoes to fill. Its successor, the MP4-12C, is due next year so be sure to take a look at the newest supercar to come out of Woking.
McLaren F1 production breakdown -- standard road cars (64), 1995 GTR race cars (9), 1996 LM road cars (5), 1996 GTR race cars (9), 1997 GT road cars (3), 1997 GTR race cars (10), prototypes (6)