RACING

Sotheby’s Sealed: 1998 McLaren F1

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Presented by RM Sotheby’s.


For nearly thirty years, the McLaren F1 remained the fastest naturally aspirated car of all time and earned its status as an automotive legend. Born from a company steeped in motorsport pedigree but which had never built a production road car, the F1 was designed to be the greatest road car ever built, regardless of cost.

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Through relentless attention to detail and revolutionary design processes, McLaren created a technological tour de force and the F1 truly took the industry by storm. Not only would it achieve all the lofty goals set by its manufacturers, but McLaren went further and took motor racing reluctantly, only for it to win the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans, the car’s first outing at the legendary an event. It was a truly astonishing achievement considering that F1 was never designed for racing. It would have been entirely possible to drive the McLaren F1 from the UK to Le Mans, race, win the race overall and then drive the car home. In modern motorsport, such a feat will never again be possible.

Many claim that McLaren’s F1 is the greatest car of the 20th century, a bold but justifiable claim given the car’s impact on the industry and its success in motorsport. With the changing demographics of the collector car industry, the McLaren F1 is arguably on its way to the vaunted heights of other iconic cars such as Ferrari’s 250 GTO and Alfa’s 8C 2900 in terms of desirability and valuable. Taken together, these three cars form a trio, each representing the very best in design and performance within its own generation. The 8C 2900 and 250 GTO have been at the top of the collection for decades, and the McLaren F1 can be considered worthy of inclusion in this exclusive club, making it the “Big Three”, ownership of the three signifying their respective owner as one of the best car collectors in the world.

As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, F1 will be seen as a turning point in the history of performance motoring and an automobile that many designers and engineers have drawn inspiration from since its introduction. Elon Musk once tweeted: When my 1st business was purchased, I had to choose between buying a house in Palo Alto or a McLaren F1 (the best car ever in my opinion). Wasn’t a contest. I bought F1 and a small condo much cheaper than the car. The new Tesla Roadster will surpass all gas-powered sports cars in every way…”. Even though the new Tesla Roadster has yet to enter production, it’s clear that his F1 would have had a profound effect on Musk, and therefore Tesla.

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At the time, the technical innovations of the McLaren F1 were simply fascinating, and most remain mainstays of the supercars and hypercars produced today. The McLaren F1 was the first car built with active aerodynamics, gold to reflect heat in the engine compartment and a modem system allowing the car to communicate with factory technicians to diagnose any problems remotely .

No detail was considered unimportant, from the hand-drawn and inscribed owner’s manuals bespoke to each car, the six-disc CD player custom-designed by Kenwood to be the smallest and most lightweight of its kind, and the ultralight Falcom toolkit, every aspect of the car has been carefully considered. At a list price of £634,500 when it was unveiled (over $1,000,000), it was the most expensive new car ever built. Dive into the details and in the opinion of anyone lucky enough to buy an F1 new, the cost was justified.

Midway through production of the McLaren F1 and once some customer cars started racking up mileage, the car was discovered to have a slight Achilles heel in the form of its headlights. While driving at night, output from the stock headlights was noticeably poor, which one doesn’t want to contend with at 240 mph. Seeking to remedy this, the factory quickly came up with a solution for which the car shown here, chassis number 059, would be the test bed: the existing headlight internals were replaced with those from the BMW Z1 Roadster and the headlight housings themselves have been slightly modified. shorter.

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Chassis number 059 is the only F1 to leave the factory with a unique headlamp configuration, making it truly unique among the 64 road cars built and instantly recognizable to connoisseurs. McLaren would later improve the power of the headlights in existing F1s by swapping the position of the low and high beams, as well as replacing the low beam with a different projector, which could be done in the headlight housing original, cementing the status of this car. as unique among his peers.

Motorsport history students will be acutely aware of the auspicious nature of this car’s chassis number, 059, as it shares this number with the racing number of the F1 car that won the overall victory at the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans, further affirming the importance of F1. in automotive history. As this car was completed and delivered in April 1998 as the 97th McLaren F1 built (making it one of the very last), that fact would not have escaped its first owner, who was no stranger to McLaren. and in F1.

This first owner was John Studholme of Boston, Lincolnshire in the UK. Studholme founded Dynamic Cassette International which manufactured typewriter cassettes and would later move into producing inkjet cartridges for printers. This was not Mr Studholme’s first F1, as he swapped chassis number 017 for McLaren when purchasing this car, nor would it be his last F1 as he also owned the F1 GTR 14R. Opting to finish its new F1 in Magnesium Silver over a black Alcantara and leather interior, chassis number 059 was first registered in the UK to Studholme in May 1998 and the car was immediately put into service. service with him. Service records on file show that seven months after delivery the F1 was serviced by McLaren Special Operations and fitted with the High Downforce kit as well as 18-inch wheels, which it still sports today.

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By the time 059 was first serviced, it had already covered some 4,676 miles. His service records are fascinating to read as McLaren went into great detail to ensure F1 would always perform at its best under all circumstances. Nothing was overlooked during the service, a regimen that included pre- and post-service testing on closed circuits, and even the CDs in the bespoke Kenwood six-disc CD changer were rated to the highest standards. arrival at MSO (Queen, Elton John and Fleetwood Mac were clearly Studholme favourites). The car has been serviced regularly while owned, with invoices on file for each service from 1998 to 2012, showing that the car’s current mileage of less than 16,400 miles is genuine. Importantly, these records show that even though the car was used by Studholme as McLaren would have intended, the car was never abused and still returned to the factory for proper maintenance.

The F1 was acquired by its second and current owner in late 2012 and exported to the United States under the exhibition or display exemption to reside in his world-class collection, where it would spend from time sitting alongside another McLaren F1. During that time, it racked up less than 300 miles on its odometer and remained largely in climate-controlled storage, with the extra mileage resulting from occasional exercise in storage. It should be noted that it is advised that 059 will require a return to service and we invite interested parties to contact us directly for further information on its overall condition.

These cars remain eminently usable as they are well supported by McLaren Special Operations and owners are encouraged to use and enjoy their cars in touring, concours and general road use. It’s often easy to forget that unlike other supercars of its era, the F1 has a relatively small footprint and plenty of storage space in its saddlebags, making extended drives and everyday use a pleasure, a welcome bonus to the car’s otherworldly performance. .

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Comparing the F1 to its contemporary rivals, Motor Sport magazine said that the F1 is “a car created using the best minds and greatest technological resources…brilliant because of the undoubted extravagance of its design but in because of its pure meaning…it’s not just the fastest mid-engined supercar ever built, but the most practical.What more could you ask for in an automobile?

Today, of the 106 F1s built, several F1s reside alongside one (or more) of their peers in large collections, so the actual number of current F1 owners is well below 100, as the illustrates the ownership history of this example. Acquiring this F1 would allow joining this exclusive club of owners and drivers, achieving something that millions of enthusiasts can only dream of, but few, perhaps only a few hundred, have ever achieved.

Having not been seen publicly for the past decade in its current owner, this represents a remarkable opportunity to acquire a unique and meaningful F1 car. Learn more online and contact RM Sotheby’s to place your sealed bid.


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