The McLaren F1 is so good, so desirable, and so flippin’ fast that the simple act of typing its name may cause your computer to crash. In their attempts to describe it, most writers won’t be able to stop themselves from inserting random parenthesized exclamation points, assembling strings of dollar signs and ampersands and asterisks where genuine expletives might otherwise go, and resorting to the use of made-up adjectives when real ones just don’t cut it.
The McLaren F1 debuted in 1992, the cost-no-object daydream of Formula 1 designer Gordon Murray, and it changed the way we think about supercars (it even had A/C and a Kenwood stereo). Even today, there are not a few car nuts who would rather have an uninterrupted hour with an F1 than a ride on a space shuttle, X-ray vision, or dinner with Salma Hayek. It was that good.
The F1 was made mostly of carbon fiber before every damned thing on earth was made of carbon fiber or made to look like it was made of carbon fiber. It had an engine bay lined in actual gold leaf (!) and a 6.1-liter BMW V-12 with 627 hp. Since most F1 buyers already believed they sat at the center of the universe, McLaren fittingly placed the driver’s seat thusly, with additional buckets to the left and right, in the “Son” and “Holy Ghost” positions.
If you purchased an F1, your car was accompanied by goodies like a TAG Heuer wristwatch engraved with the car’s serial number, custom-fitted luggage, a full-size Facom mechanic’s rolling tool chest, plus a complementary set of gold-plated titanium tools and a private track day under the tutelage of Le Mans winner Andy Wallace.
Mere trifles! The F1 was vastly greater than the sum of its bling. It was fast, baby. &*@$ing fast. Tall-tale fast. (“I once knew a fella who drove his McLaren from New York to Chicago and arrived before he left.”) Wallace himself took an F1, sans rev limiter, to 240 mph on the elongated oval at Volkswagen‘s Ehra-Lessien test facility in Germany. Standard cars were good for 231 mph. Oh, and unlike a certain present-day supercar whose name rhymes with “poo-potty,” the magnificent Mac reached warp speed without four turbochargers, seven gears, all-wheel drive, ABS, power steering, power brakes, or a rich German parent.
When production of the F1 ended in 1998, McLaren had given the world seven prototypes, seventy-two street-legal examples, and twenty-eight full-on race versions. The Sultan of Brunei owns eight or so, and untold numbers have been destroyed at the hands of overexuberant owners or their spoiled-rotten children, ungrateful offspring who should be damned to spend all eternity sitting in traffic at the 101/405 interchange in Los Angeles, wedged into the third-row seat of a clapped-out Plymouth Grand Voyager between Bill O’Reilly and a wet dog. With a full bladder.The F1 was that good.