Chassis 25R, a Top Gear-sponsored racing veteran, is the first ‘Certified’ F1
Only 106 McLaren F1s were built, and auction prices for the 627bhp V12 icon now regularly soar into the eleven-digit stratosphere. But should you want to be doubly sure your Gordon Murray-designed, 388km/h dreamship is as desirable – and lucrative – as possible, McLaren has launched its official restoration and certification programme for the car. The company says the process ‘aims to safeguard originality of the iconic car for future generations.’
The first recipient of the official McLaren Special Operations authentication is chassis 25R, a ‘longtail’ GTR resplendent in the gorgeous Gulf-Davidoff livery. It’s taken 18 months to restore 25R to the condition you see here, using factory-held pre-June 1997 parts to authentically recreate the state the car would’ve been in before its assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year.
Unfortunately 25R didn’t complete the race, succumbing to an oil fire two hours from the chequered flag. After being repaired, it built a career in Japan, where it continued campaigning right up until 2005. In fact, this was the final F1 ever to compete in a contemporary motor race. Even among what’s possibly the greatest supercar of all time, this makes it a special one.
We’re big fans of it not least for the logo proudly worn on the car’s shoulder, just behind the dihedral door button – yep, back in the day this McLaren and its two sister cars were sponsored by TopGear magazine. That’s probably worth at least one of the zeroes on any auctioneer’s valuation.
It’s not just the racing versions of the BMW-engined masterpiece which qualify for the authentication and restoration programme – you can have the treatment on any F1, garage queen or otherwise. Why bother? Well, McLaren says, “a unique Certificate of Authenticity – which McLaren Automotive is the only body in the world able to issue – authenticates a car’s provenance, originality, service life, road/race history and condition. Conformity with the original specification and to any McLaren-sanctioned upgrades is confirmed by reference to the factory archives.”
So, people hundreds of years from now will be left in no doubt that the F1 they’re ogling – or hopefully driving to the redline – is the real deal, complete with the correct parts, a verified list of owners, and possibly even some racing history. And that’s not all.
Besides the certificate, McLaren supplies owners of F1s who plump for the resto-authenticate treatment with a bespoke book documenting their car’s life story. First we’ve heard of a car company writing biographies for its most famous model.
Anyway, this has all been an exercise in bringing you photos of a box-fresh 21-year old legend of motorsport and exotica, and we invite you to begin your day by drinking in the utter exquisiteness of this rather special vehicle. You’re welcome.
STORY Ollie Kew