Two decades on, the McLaren F1 remains a yardstick by which hypercars are judged
Gordon Murray's design was revolutionary, not least the centre driving position
11.5.94, Road test No.4038 was a landmark
The interior is spartan by modern standards
Autocar was the only title to performance test the car at the time
Upwards-opening doors add to the F1's drama
The F1 has a power-to-weight ratio of 550bhp per tonne
In profile, the F1 looks slender and sleek
New, the F1 cost £540,000 - they are easily twice that price nowadays
We recorded 0-30:1.8sec, 0-60: 3.2sec, 0-100mph: 6.3sec and 0-150mph: 12.8sec
In our test, the F1 covered the standing quarter mile in 11.1sec at 138mph
The mid-mounted V12, 6064cc engine makes 627bhp at 7400rpm and 479lbft at 4000-7000rpm in road trim
GTR versions featured a roof-mounted scoop, among other modifications from the standard car
Race harnesses and a digital dash are among few visual changes for GTR models
Many GTR chassis have now been put to use as road-legal cars
Just 28 GTRs were built, against 106 standard models
We said the F1 could be the fastest road car ever. And it was for a long time
Gold was used as a heat shield in the engine bay
The central driving position was an elegant solution to the dilemmas of converting between left and right hand drive
The McLaren set the world alight like few other cars before or since
This week marks 20 years since the launch of the McLaren F1. The three-seat hypercar refined what was possible that the time, certainly as far as price and performance was concerned.
It remains one of the all-time automotive icons, and one of Autocar’s greatest road tests. The test was a landmark – not only for the staggering figures we recorded, but also because it was the only full performance test sanctioned by McLaren. Here’s what we said at the time:
The McLaren F1 is the finest driving machine yet built for the public road. It possesses more performance than most of the cars racing at Le Mans this year, but that is almost a side issue compared to its real achievement: that of containing such performance within a car that is without guile. A car that always inspires, never intimidates.
Yes, it has too much performance for most public road situations but, paradoxically, it is this excess that provides the F1 with its justification.
The F1 is a car which, no matter how often you drive it, no matter how skilled you are, will always be capable of showing you something undiscovered, something you didn’t believe a road car could manage. We can see F1 drivers, after 20 years of ownership, still having their jaws felled by its abilities. And, in that time, there will be occasions when it can safely be exploited to the full and many, many more where merely nibbling at the surface of its abilities will still provide more driving inspiration than any production car driven at maximum effort.
We are also convinced that the F1 will be remembered as one of the great events in the history of the car. What you are looking at here is very possibly the fastest production road car the world will ever see, a walking, talking piece of history. But £540,000? If we had the money, we’d form a queue.
Today, we still would and the F1 remains a landmark car, even if our qualified prediction didn’t hold true – the F1’s straight-line pace was finally beaten by the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport.
Autocar world exclusive: Andy Wallace flat out in the McLaren F1
McLaren F1 driven flat-out video