1998 McLaren F1 'LM-Specification'
- The most iconic supercar of the modern era
- The 63rd and penultimate road-specification F1 built
- One of two examples upgraded by McLaren Special Operations with an LM-spec engine
- Retains its road-specification interior with numerous upgrades, including satellite navigation
- Fitted with the additional Extra High Downforce Package
- The best of both worlds: a fully street-legal F1 with LM performance and modern upgrades
PURSUIT OF PERFECTION
The McLaren F1 was built and designed on a blank sheet of paper by a team led by Gordon Murray and Ron Dennis, who were looking to make zero compromises in the pursuit of automotive perfection. On 31 March 1998, a McLaren F1 (chassis XP5) achieved a top speed of 240.14 mph at the Ehra-Lessien Proving Ground in Germany, setting a record for road-going production cars that would stand for nearly seven years, smashing the previous record held by a Jaguar XJ220 by almost 30 mph. To this day, the McLaren F1 still holds the record as the fastest naturally aspirated production car.
Even though it was purposely built to be the world’s fastest and finest road car, the F1’s performance was unrivaled on the track, and a McLaren F1 took 1st overall in the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans.
CHASSIS NO. 073
The penultimate “standard” F1 road car built, chassis 073 was completed in 1998 and delivered that year to its first high-profile owner. According to information supplied in the owner’s manual (written in and signed by Gordon Murray himself), this car was designated as a European-delivery example that had been finished in AMG Green Velvet with a two-tone cream and green interior. The car was built over the summer of 1998 and is noted as being delivered new on 4 September 1998. However, rather than being shipped out to its first owner, that owner specified for his car to be kept at McLaren’s facilities in Woking. Since the F1 was left in the custody of McLaren, all its requisite services and upgrades were performed by the factory during this time.
A unique aspect of McLaren is that owners, current or original, of McLaren F1s have the opportunity to send their cars back to the factory to be upgraded to their desire. That department, now called McLaren Special Operations, was set up to service, upgrade, and personalize F1s for their discerning clients. Some cars that entered the MSO facilities received only minor cosmetic updates, while some received sweeping changes that left few stones unturned. Chassis 073 is an example of the latter.
In fulfilling McLaren Special Operations’ goal of making chassis 073 the finest and most desirable F1 on the planet, the car was fitted with the more powerful LM-specification engine. These engines were further optimized with parts derived from the GTR race cars to provide 680 hp at 7,800 rpm, which was accomplished by increasing the compression ratio, changing the cams, using different pistons, and swapping airflow meters for air pressure sensors. Chassis no. 073 was also updated with larger radiators, to provide additional cooling, and a sports exhaust. It is one of only two road-going F1s to be fitted with an LM engine.
McLaren also installed the Extra High Downforce Package, which includes a revised nose with additional front wing vents and a more aggressive rear wing over the traditional High Downforce Package. It was also fitted with a four-millimeter Gurney flap, to further aid the car’s high-speed stability. As the original headlights were a noted weak point on F1s, gas discharge headlights were fitted for improved visibility. A custom set of 18-in. multi-spoke wheels were fitted as well. Finally, the car was refinished in a brilliant orange metallic, a hue that is seldomly seen on F1s and one that perfectly suits its stunning design.
Inside, the car has been fitted with a number of modern amenities. The interior was updated to GT specifications and retrimmed in magnolia leather and Alcantara, with beige Alcantara inserts in the seats. Numerous other modern improvements were made, including upgrading the air-conditioning system and stereo and installing a Phillips satellite navigation system, as well as a helicopter-grade car-to-car radio and intercom system. McLaren fitted the car with a larger 14-in. steering wheel, an LM-style handbrake, an LM-style instrument cluster with a shift light, and tinted side windows, and they also etched “073” into the tachometer.
The final touch was by Gordon Murray: he signed the car just ahead of the ignition switch on the transmission tunnel.
THE ULTIMATE F1
The sum of these upgrades produced a car which is lauded by many as the finest driving F1 in existence, as it is a perfect mix of the best aspects of both the original road car and the radical LM. Only five LMs were sold to the public (with an additional prototype being retained by McLaren), and while these cars are considered the very best, they rarely come to market and are often traded for nearly twice that of a road-specification F1. Chassis 073 offers all that the F1 LMs offer, but in a package that can be comfortably enjoyed on the open road.
Since leaving the custody of its original owner, the car has only accumulated an additional 700 km, meaning that the engine has covered just under 6,000 km during its time with chassis no. 073. It has only been serviced by McLaren, to ensure that it is appropriately maintained and ready to drive and enjoy at a moment’s notice. Please consult an RM representative to review the extensive receipts on file from 2013, which total over $80,000 and include such notable items as the replacement of a clutch and fuel cell.
Accompanying chassis no. 073 is its original exhaust, a correct original gold-plated titanium Facom tool roll, a Facom mechanic’s roll-around tool chest with a torque wrench, luggage, and its original owner’s and service manuals. It was also fitted with new tires.
Within the world of the McLaren F1, a special car in its own right, chassis 073 is even more special, as it offers luxury options that are absent from the LM and performance above that of the road-specification F1s. Moreover, it is one of only two examples, making it rarer than a typical LM, and it is a car whose three-seat configuration may never be repeated within the advent of modern safety regulations.
Here, in the ultimate version of the greatest automobile ever built, its new owner will become the next member of a close-knit and exclusive fraternity of enthusiasts, each of whom is dedicated to serving as the custodian of a McLaren F1 and enjoying it at speed. To call this car the “modern 250 GTO” is no exaggeration, nor is the exclusivity of joining this rarified club.