As we launch a new programme to safeguard the authenticity and pedigree of the iconic McLaren F1 and F1 GTR, one car in particular stands out
Originality, provenance, and heritage. All the bywords of rare and vintage car dealers at sales and auctions around the globe, but in a world driven by profit, who can buyers really trust to act as the custodians of the most valuable, historic and significant cars in history?
At McLaren, we believe there’s no one better placed to preserve our greatest cars for future generations than our own team within McLaren Special Operations (MSO), and to make it official, we recently launched the F1 Certified Programme. It’s designed to guarantee the authenticity, originality of parts, maintenance history and, if required, carry out factory approved upgrades, even replacing worn items with period original spare parts.
Offering peace of mind for current and future owners, this Certificate of Authenticity can only be issued by McLaren. The first F1 to be given it was chassis #25R, a 1997 F1 GTR Longtail that was raced in competition right up until 2005 and which has been painstakingly restored by the team at MSO to pristine ‘as new’ condition.
In total, only 106 McLaren F1s were ever built, and just 28 of these were GTR racers. This rarity means that it’s uncommon to see one – let alone two – of these absolutely stunning cars together. Yet that’s exactly what happened at Laguna Seca this year.
Seeing double would normally be a cause for concern, but when the distorted mirror image is of one of the most sophisticated racing machines ever made, it’s worth letting your eyes drift over even the tiniest technical details. Both of these cars competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, #01R in 1995 racing with the ‘Ueno Clinic’ livery, and chassis #17R in the following year for BMW Motorsport wearing the ‘FINA’ colours, with an American flag spread out across the rear of the engine deck.
There are minute differences between these icons, beyond the contrasting exteriors. For the 1996 race the cars were modified lightly to stay competitive, with a larger front splitter, extended bodywork, a toughened gearbox, while the weight was lowered by 38kgs. That made the 1996-spec cars the fastest F1 GTRs (in terms of top speed) and in period they were clocked at 205mph (330km/h) on the Mulsanne straight.
The names and national flags of the famous drivers who took the wheel are still beautifully emblazoned across each of the dihedral doors. JJ Lehto and Masanori Sekiya would go down in history as the first ever Finnish and Japanese drivers to win the race. It was a victory that cemented our place in motorsport history and the reason that this car is so valuable.
‘McLaren cherishes its rich heritage of iconic and world-beating cars,’ said our Chief Executive Officer Mike Flewitt. ‘F1 Certified will play a big role in allowing us to do that, preserving our wonderful heritage for future generations of car lovers.’