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Overrated: McLaren F1

1 year ago

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Steve Sutcliffe | Journalist


18 May 2023

The McLaren F1. What a car. What an engine. What a seismic event it was to drive. And what an irony it was that, at the time of its creation, the world simply wasn’t ready for a car that cost this much money, and which could go so unbelievably fast.

A lot has changed since I became one of the first people outside the factory to drive the F1 some 29 summers ago. The car itself has now become so desirable that putting a value on one is virtually impossible. Unless you have at least £15 million to spend, walk on by, because that’s the starting point for negotiation if you want to slide an F1 into your collection. Add another £5m or more if you want a racing version with decent provenance.

Yet in 1994 a McLaren F1 road car cost £627,000, and almost no one wanted one at that price. McLaren struggled so badly to sell the cars the project was only rescued – and then only in part – by turning it into a racing car, a role for which it had never been designed. Even then just over 100 units were sold of all versions, road and race, combined. Early talk had been of 350. The idea of a mere car that cost so much and which could top 240mph was so out there in the mid 1990s that, for several years, the F1 became Woking’s white elephant.

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