For an entire generation of petrolistas who are now consenting adults, the McLaren F1 was the definitive supercar of the 90s. The McLaren F1 was the company’s first production road-legal supercar after Bruce McLaren’s first attempt didn’t quite make it to production. On its launch, the F1 touted never heard before specifications from a production road car – an odd central driving position that mimicked a racing car, gold lining inside the engine bay for better heat dissipation along with being the first ever production car to have been entirely constructed out of carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP). From the many industry-firsts that the McLaren F1 touted back then there was one statistic that was ridiculous to imagine from a road car – a top speed of 240mph (386kmph), a record that it held for almost 11 years before the Koenigsegg CCR and Bugatti Veyron came along.
The recipe to the McLaren F1 reaching such biblical top speeds came down to the core philosophy that the F1 was built around. When Gordon Murray designed the McLaren F1, he didn’t think of it as a car that would comfort the rich and cocoon them in the lap of luxurious power. Instead, he created a design that was as slippery as possible, that could go as fast as possible and be relentless while doing so. Compared to today’s hypercars, the aerodynamics of the McLaren F1 weren’t build so much for downforce as they were for outright speed. Powering Murray’s design was the exquisitely built 6.1-litre, 618bhp BMW M V12 exclusively build by Paul Rosche for McLaren.
In this video, released on the 25th anniversary of the McLaren F1, the company takes us behind the scenes of their record attempt to see how fast the car could actually go. For this, McLaren took help of Andy Wallace racing driver who had won Le Mans, Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring 24 Hours and Silverstone, and asked him to try to take the McLaren F1 to its limits at the Ehra-Lessien Proving Ground on March 31, 1998. Wallace who was no stranger to the car, having raced the McLaren F1 GT at the 1995 and 1996 season at Le Mans agreed almost immediately. What proceeded is now a part of motoring history.
If it wasn’t for the McLaren F1 who knows how the British company would have been perceived today. While their today’s cars, including the mighty P1 is nothing short than a masterclass of engineering, the McLaren P1 was the original car that started it all, a true successor to carry forward Bruce McLaren’s legacy.
Via McLaren on Youtube