For sale: ultra-rare McLaren F1 with Le Mans-spec engine

| 19 Jun 2018
This ultra-rare McLaren F1 is a near-perfect supercar

If the McLaren F1 is the ultimate supercar, then this 'LM'-spec model must be the ultimate McLaren F1 – and now it's up for sale.  

One of only two roadgoing F1s to be fitted with the race-bred LM-spec engine, it pairs the incredible handling of the 'standard' version with a raft of upgrades that give it everything from extra power to a built-in sat-nav system. It is very fast, very rare and very, very desirable. 

It's also likely to be very expensive: the car is for sale via prestigious auction house RM Sotheby's newly launched Private Sales division. And no, you probably can't afford it.

This ultra-rare McLaren F1 is a near-perfect supercar

Chassis no 073 is one of 64 roadgoing McLaren F1 cars produced in the mid-to-late 1990s, and rolled off the production line in September 1998 as the penultimate such model.

In its original guise, it was a 'standard' McLaren F1 – although the use of the word 'standard' here doesn't really make much sense. After all, the F1 is a vehicle described by Autocar as "the finest driving machine yet built for the public road", and it has been voted the greatest car ever in more than one public poll.

Not that it remained a 'standard' model for long, anyway. The owner – we don't know who it is, but RM describes them as "high-profile" – left the vehicle with the McLaren Special Operations department (MSO), who duly fitted it with a more powerful LM-spec engine, as seen in the marque's F1 GTR track cars.

That upgrade gave it a whopping 680bhp at 7800rpm thanks to upgraded cams and pistons, an increased compression ratio and the addition of air pressure sensors.

And as if that wasn't enough, MSO then went further by fitting larger radiators, a sports exhaust, an Extra High Downforce Package, better headlights and custom 18in wheels. Oh, and they gave it a rather fetching Metallic Orange finish too, which was nice of them. 

This ultra-rare McLaren F1 is a near-perfect supercar
This ultra-rare McLaren F1 is a near-perfect supercar
This ultra-rare McLaren F1 is a near-perfect supercar

Only six LM machines were initially made by McLaren, to celebrate the marque's 1995 Le Mans win, with one of those six a prototype.

A further two F1s were retro-fitted with the more powerful engine, of which chassis 73 is one. That alone makes this car a rarity among rarities, but unlike the other LM cars, this one was also given a few modern amenities inside.

Such as? Well, just for good measure, McLaren overhauled the interior to GT spec, retrimming it with luxurious Alcantara. The air conditioning was upgraded, too, and a then-modern sat nav was added. Oh, and a helicopter-grade car-to-car radio was added, because why not.

Finished off with custom 18in wheels, chassis 73 became probably the most desirable F1 on the planet – with the ultimate specification. The F1's designer, Gordon Murray, even signed it to seal the deal.

This ultra-rare McLaren F1 is a near-perfect supercar

With the upgraded engine having only covered 6000km, there's little doubt that this car will come with a big price tag.

Exactly how big isn't clear – RM lists it as 'Price upon request' – but we can probably guess the minimum value: this same F1 sold at RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction in 2015 for an eye-watering US$13.7m – which works out as an astonishing £10.5m. And its value is unlikely to have fallen in the intervening years.

Whatever it goes for, it's quite the statement of intent for the new RM Sotheby's Private Sales department, although far from the only one.

Of the eight cars currently in the (virtual) salesroom, a 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680 S Torpedo-Sport Avant-Garde by Saoutchik also stands out – that one comes with a $7m price tag – while a trio of Ferraris are hardly likely to come cheap. 

There's a 1961 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Coupe Aerodinamico, for instance, and that model has recently sold for more than $3m at auction, and a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Alloy – we'd expect that to make around the same.

Oh, and there's a 2003 Ferrari Enzo, but that one appears to have been claimed already. Sorry, you'll have to make do with the F1 instead. 



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