In 1963, New Zealander Bruce McLaren founded McLaren Motor Racing. In 1966, the team was introduced to Formula 1. The cooperation of McLaren with the world’s largest automobile industries led to the construction of the some of the greatest cars in history. The major drivers of Formula 1 have worked with the team since then, while the team has grown to be the absolute leader on the tracks of Formula 1. Bruce McLaren died at the age of 32, when on June 2, 1970 the back of the car he was driving was cut off, resulting in his fatal injury.
In the early 1990s, the use of the expertise of McLaren for the manufacture of a passenger car was decided. Finding a powerful engine and designing an impressive vehicle was a prerequisite for the implementation of that bold project. The manufacture of the ultimate supercar would prove that McLaren is not randomly at the top of Formula 1.
McLaren gave its new creation the name “F1,” predisposing that the DNA of F1 contained identical cells with those found in Formula 1. The birth of the first F1 came in 1992 and could be described as a reincarnation of Bruce McLaren who suffered this needless death. The founder of the historic McLaren came back to life through the fastest road car that anyone had ever seen.
The futuristic design of the F1 was based on several points in the design philosophy of Formula 1 cars. The designer, Gordon Murray, was responsible for the visual spectacle offered by F1. Although the F1 came in production 21 years ago, it looks like it just came out yesterday from a highly modern factory.
Its aerodynamic design eliminates air resistance. The role of the ground effect system is crucial, where air passes beneath the chassis of the car with the smallest resistance possible. Reducing the weight of the F1 was achieved thanks to its exclusive carbon fiber build. We must emphasize here that the F1 is widely known as the first car manufactured entirely of carbon fiber. That extremely durable and lightweight material helped it weigh only 1,140 kg (2,513 lbs).
The doors of the F1 open upwards just as befits such cars. The famous McLaren pilots Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton would certainly feel very intimately behind the wheel of such a car. The existence of two more seats would probably be the only thing that could spoil the familiar environment. The bucket driver’s seat is positioned in the center, while another two seats are located behind it on the left and right side. The subversive seating configuration maximizes driver’s field of vision. Despite its sporty character, the F1 has the necessary amenities such as air conditioning, electric windows and even a CD player.
The BMW Motorsport Division equipped the F1 with one of the best naturally aspirated engines available at the time. Weighing only 260 kg (573 lbs), it also used the Vanos variable timing system. The powerful engine acted like a volcano that erupted every time the driver turned the ignition key. It made the earth shake, thanks to that powerful V12 engine. However, it doesn’t release hot lava, but rather 627-hp that are reared by the 6.1-liter engine.
In the mid-mounted engine, leaves of gold were used for better sound insulation and resistance to high temperatures. The F1 sported a manual 6-speed transaxle gearbox and a launch from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) is done in just 3.3 seconds. In March 1998, the F1 broke all records, including the heralding barrier of 372 km/h (231 mph).
The unrealistic performance highlighted the F1 as the fastest mass-production car of the time. Today, the naturally-aspirated engine of the F1 is still considered one of the strongest ever manufactured. It retained its title until 2005 when Bugatti Veyron took the crown, reaching 408 km/h (253 mph).
The racing action of the F1 is quite rich. The McLaren F1 GTR was the racing version, where its greatest victory came at the 24 Hours LeMans. Seven F1 GTR’s were thrown in the struggle for victory, and when the race came to a finish no one could believe what had happened. McLaren had achieved 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th place with F1 GTR.
F1 production began in 1992 and ended in 1998, with a total of 106 copies manufactured. Nowdays, the F1 is considered a collectors item and aspiring aficionados spend immense amounts of money to obtain one. What we can say with certainty is that there won’t be a car made like the F1 in quite some time. The legend that was created around the name of F1 is definitely unmatched.
This article was written by passionate Greek auto-writer George Psarras
- Bruce McLaren