The 1993 McLaren F1 is Arguably the most iconic supercar of the 1990s
The McLaren F1 was unveiled in May 1992 and was the company’s first road-going production car. The idea was born in the late 1980s, when Gordon Murray, the technical director of McLaren’s Formula One, began sketching the F1 as a three-seat supercar. Appointed as head of McLaren Cars in 1991, Murray convinced Ron Dennis to build the vehicle and played a key role in the design of the F1. It was unlike any other supercar launched up to that point. It had a race-inspired design, a three-seat configuration with the driver seat in the middle, and a comfortable ride for a vehicle of its kind. It was also the first production car to use a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis and the first to bring high-tech and expensive materials such as titanium, magnesium, Kevlar, and gold under the same roof.
Not only powerful and quick, the F1 was also the world’s fastest production car. Its record endured from 1992 until 2005, when Bugatti unleashed the ludicrous Veyron. The F1 spawned a couple of special-edition models such as the LM and the GT, but it was also used as a base for the GTR race car. Essentially a standard F1 with aerodynamic improvements, the GTR went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in its first year on the race track.
Some 25 years have passed since its introduction and the F1 is already considered a classic. Usually changing owners for millions of dollars, the F1 is one of the very few multi-million-dollar supercars built in the 1990s.
The Spec’s: 1993 McLaren F1
|Year: 1993||Make: McLaren||Model: F1|
|Horsepower @ RPM: 627bhp @ 7400rmp||Torque @ RPM: 5600||Displacement: 6064cc|
|0-60 time: 3.2 sec||Top Speed: 240MHP|
|0-100 time: 6.3 Sec|
|Quarter Mile: 11.1 Sec|
Inspired by prototype race cars, the styling of the F1 was somewhat in line with early 1990s supercars: it had a short front hood, a canopy-like roof, large doors, and a long rear deck. However, while similar vehicles from Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Bugatti were still using wedge-type cues reminiscent of the 1980s, the F1 had a more rounded design similar to the Le Mans prototypes of the era.
The headlamps were placed high on the front fenders and the turn signals and daytime running lights flanked the nose. Underneath, there were two large intakes that fed air to the front brakes.
The gullwing doors, the opening side panels, and the swoopy waistline made the supercar look like a Transformers vehicle.
The F1 looked even more spectacular from the side. The gullwing doors, the opening side panels, and the swoopy waistline made the supercar look like a Transformers vehicle, while the lack of a rear wing gave it a clean, classy profile.
The rear fascia was pretty old-school, with big round taillights, a massive grille between them, and eight smaller mesh intakes underneath. The diffuser was rather subtle, while the quad-pipe exhaust was mounted in the center. The roof’s fin-like element and the long deck lid gave it a race-inspired, unique appearance. Design-wise, the F1 had a certain degree of elegance that other supercars from the era didn’t offer.
Arguably the most mind-blowing feature of the F1 was its three-seat configuration. The driver’s seat was placed in the middle, flanked by two passenger seats mounted a few inches toward the rear. This solution offered the driver a Formula One-like position and made the F1 the first supercar to seat three people instead of only two. This feature is basically impossible to use nowadays due to safety restrictions and likely a complicated airbag system and continues to keep the F1 unique in this regard.
Due to the seat arrangement, the dashboard had asymmetric design with the steering wheel and the instrument panel right in the middle. Naturally, the pedals were also place in the middle of the cockpit, leaving room for the passengers on the left and right. The driver’s was flanked by two thin consoles which housed several controls. The gear shifter was placed on the right, while the handbrake lever was mounted on the left. Also, the driver’s seat had a race-inspired design, whereas the the two additional seats had a simpler, yet still sporty configuration.
“Arguably the most mind-blowing feature of the F1 was its three-seat configuration.”
Because the F1 was also designed for comfort and to appeal to rich customers looking for a luxurious ride, the floor was covered in soft carpet, while most of the surfaces were wrapped in leather. Carbon-fiber and aluminum was also used throughout the cockpit.
The F1 also had a full cabin air conditioning, a rarity on most sports cars in the early 1990s, SeKurit electric defrost/demist windscreen and side glass, electric windows, remote central locking system, and a Kenwood 10-disc CD stereo system. The latter was a lightweight unit specifically developed for the F1.
McLaren also offered tailored luggage bags specially designed to fit the vehicle’s carpeted storage compartments in the rear fenders. Standard features also included a tailored golf bag and a special-edition TAG Heuer 6000 Chronometer wristwatch with its serial number scripted below the center stem.
When Murray convinced Ron Dennis to build the F1, he insisted that the engine is naturally aspirated for increased reliability and driver control. Murray initially went to Honda for a V-12 powerplant derived from the Formula One unit that powered the then-dominating McLaren-Honda cars, but the Japanese refused his proposal. He later persuaded BMW Motorsport to build him a 6.1-liter V-12 based on the M70 engine found in the second-generation 7 Series and 8 Series.
“The massive output and the lower curb weight made the F1 the quickest supercars of its era.”
The massive output and the lower curb weight made the F1 the quickest supercars of its era. The sprint from 0 to 60 mph came in just 3.2 seconds while charging to 100 mph took a scant 6.3 ticks. It also needed only 28 seconds to hit 200 mph from a standing start. Its top speed was even more impressive at 231 mph, but this was the result of an electronic limiter due to safety concerns. The F1 was actually capable of more and in 1992 set a new world record at 240.1 mph, smashing the previous benchmark by a whopping 28 mph. During a private test in 1998, the F1 hit 243 mph with Andy Wallace behind the wheel.
The supercar rides on a double wishbone suspension system that was benchmarked to that of the Jaguar XJR16, Porsche 928S, and Honda NSX. The steering knuckles and the top wishbone/bell crank were specially manufactured in an aluminum alloy, while the wishbones were machined from a solid aluminum alloy with CNC machines.
The lightweight wheels came wrapped in specially designed tires created exclusively for the F1 by Goodyear and Michelin. Stopping power came from unassisted, vented, and cross-drilled brake discs and aluminum calipers made by Brembo. Gordon Murray initially wanted to utilize carbon-fiber brakes for the supercar but found the technology not mature enough. Carbon-ceramic brakes were later used in the GTR race car.
The McLaren F1 was priced from $815,000 back in 1992 (around $1.4 million in 2016), which made it hugely more expensive than other supercars. But despite the steep sticker, McLaren had no issues selling the 71 road cars it built until 1998. It worth noting that 64 were regular F1s, while five were LM-spec models based on the GTR race car and two were GT versions based on the GTR “Longtail.” McLaren also built 28 GTRs and seven prototypes for a total production run of 107 units.
Although the F1 isn’t even three decades old as of 2016, it fetches large amounts of cash at auctions. In recent years, several models changed owners for more than $3 million. Several records were set in recent years, starting with an $8.5 million sale in 2013. In 2014, an example previously owned by former IndyCar champion Michael Andretti was privately traded for around $10.5 million. In 2015, Rowan Atkinson, also known as “Mr. Bean,” wanted $12 million for his F1.