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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1997
Numbers built:10
Designed by:Gordon Murray / Peter Stevens
Predecessor:McLaren F1 GTR
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 06, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAlthough developed from the ground up as a road car, it was inevitable that every fibre of the McLaren F1 was laced with racing DNA. Having been assured several times that the car would not be track bound, designer Gordon Murray opted for comfort and practicality over raw performance in several crucial areas. Compromises were made, for example, to the size of the doors and the location and design of the suspension mounts. The result was a supercar that was not only as fast or even faster than its closest rivals but also more comfortable and practical. What was also almost inevitable, however, was that one of McLaren's customers would want to take his F1 racing.

This customer was Ray Bellm, an experienced amateur racer. At the time he raced a Porsche in the popular BPR series for production based GT cars. His initial request for a racing version of the F1 was not surprisingly met with a resounding no. When he subsequently suggested to his friend and McLaren CEO Ron Dennis that he would take it upon himself to convert the road car he had on order, Bellm did get a slightly more favourable response. McLaren would build him and him alone a racing version for the princely sum of 1 million pounds. This was well out of Bellm's budget and Dennis eventually agreed to lower the prices if Bellm could find additional customers. He did not have to look beyond the list of future F1 road car owners to find them; German banker Dr. Thomas Bscher and l'Oreal CEO Lyndsay Owen-Jones. With three firm orders in place, Murray set about turning the F1 into a GT racer.

The new 'F1 GTR' was built to the international 'GT1' regulations, which meant it would also be eligible for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. To balance out the performance of the many different types of cars, these regulations included a mandatory engine intake restrictor. In the case of the McLaren, this meant the power of the BMW V12 was down by nearly 30 bhp, despite the absence of the catalytic converters. Murray managed to lower the cars weight by around 120 kg by stripping out the interior, including the two passenger seats. The right hand side of the cockpit was filled with additional electronics and switches needed for racing. All rubber bushes were removed from the suspension for additional stiffness. Only a single day of wind-tunnel testing was allocated to the project with a modest wing on the tail as the most noticeable result.

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  Article Image gallery (172) Chassis (10) Specifications User Comments (1)