BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Subscribe to Top Gear magazine
Sign up to our Top Gear Magazine

Oh good grief, we need this McLaren F1 in our lives

One of the greatest cars ever made comes up for auction. We question our life choices

Published: 05 Aug 2022

Sorry to start the story with a personal anecdote, but we had a chance to buy Bitcoin back when it was maybe £100 per coin. It... uh, may have taken off from there. Call it a missed opportunity.

Generally, we’re pretty philosophical about it... right up until cars like this come up for sale and we find ourselves sans Bitcoin billions. Then there might be just the slightest pang of regret.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Yes, it’s the McLaren F1 – a slightly confusingly named car, in the ‘No, not the F1, the McLaren F1. No, I said not the team...’ kind of way – but also something that absolutely lives up to the promise of its name. The people at Sotheby’s have seen some pretty special metal in their time; even so, they’ve said that the F1 is “arguably the greatest automobile of the 20th century”.

By now, you know the whole lot by rote, from its only-for-McLaren version of the BMW V12 to its gold-leaf-covered heat shield and three-seat setup. And, of course, the mesmerising speed that it could achieve – 240mph, the fastest a production car had ever gone – and just how much it took for Bugatti and the VW Group to go faster.

Somehow, some crazy how, the two people who’ve been lucky enough to call this F1 their own have only managed a combined 16,400 miles over 24 years. The first owner managed some 4,700 miles in the first seven months (clearly in the honeymoon phase), before bringing it to McLaren Special Operations to fit the high-downforce kit and 18-inch wheels you see here. And over the next 13 years, he added less than 8,000 miles before selling it to the new owner. Who added... 300. In a decade.

Look, we understand it’s not the car you just drive to the pub, park on the street and leave it there overnight because you took a cab home. And we understand that the second owner had to contend with the USA’s ‘Show or Display’ rules for cars less than 25 years old, limiting them to a maximum of 2,500 miles per year. But surely a McLaren F1 that’s travelled an average of less than 700 miles per year – both in the UK and US – represents something of a missed opportunity, right?

Advertisement - Page continues below

Top Gear

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

More from Top Gear

See more on McLaren

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine