There has to be a different word than “replica” because it generally has a negative connotation and doesn’t do this wonderful supercar any justice. We’re going to use “tribute” going forward as the man behind this hand-built McLaren F1 tried to stay as close to the real thing as possible. 23 years in the making, the lightweight machine looks a lot like the original and has the iconic central driver’s seat.
Getting inside is rather difficult, especially if you’re tall and/or chubby, but that’s to be expected from a hardcore beast. While replicas are built on existing cars, this McLaren F1 features a bespoke chassis with aluminum and carbon fiber body panels. It’s basically a race car that happens to be road-legal, even though the decibels it pumps out are usually heard from track-only vehicles.
Taking into consideration all the prototypes, the McLaren F1 was built in only 106 examples. The tribute here is a nod to an even rarer version of the BMW-powered supercar, the LM. Those initial stand for Le Mans and only five cars were ever made. Why that number? Because five F1s crossed the finish line at the 24 hour endurance race on Circuit de la Sarthe in 1995. The F1 GTR was first, third, fourth, fifth, and thirteenth.
One of the five F1 LM was sold in August 2019 for a whopping $19.8 million, thus making it one of the most expensive cars auctioned ever. This isn’t a genuine one, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Its hand-sculpted body was created based on pictures and scale models since Danie Brough didn’t have a blueprint of the F1.
McLaren F1 – Photos by McLaren Media
It Does Not Have The Original BMW Engine, But It’s Still A BMW V12 Nonetheless
While there’s no S70 engine behind the seats, it does have a BMW V12. Instead of the naturally aspirated 6.1-liter engine, it uses a twelve-cylinder mill taken from an original 8 Series. The 850i-sourced powertrain received a twin-turbo setup to unlock 650 horsepower at the wheels. The output alone is remarkable, but wait until you hear how much the car weighs: 1,180 kg (2,601 lbs). And yes, it has a manual gearbox.
Built in a shed, the McLaren F1 LM tribute rides on race car wheels wrapped in massive 395 tires. All that power is channeled to the road via a six-speed transmission borrowed from an Audi. Early on, the car came with a Porsche five-speed gearbox. Polycarbonate was used for the windows to keep the weight low, while the color echoes the original Papaya Orange shade.
We’ll admit the term “widowmaker” is used in the automotive scene for cars like this. It’s especially true if we look at the wobbly steering wheel. Even the owner says he hasn’t driven it fast enough to trigger the adjustable rear wing. The taillights come from a bus while the side mirrors are taken from a VW Corrado. That was the case with the McLaren F1, too. Ironically, these are the only OEM parts since everything else has either been modified or built from scratch.