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