British company celebrates 20 years since the F1 was upgraded to "Longtail" specification

The McLaren P1 supercar may be all modern and fancy with its fresh looks and hybrid drivetrain, but F1, which was launched more than decades ago gets nearly as much attention nowadays. Introduced in 1992 as the most innovative supercar of its time, the F1 went racing in 1995 and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in its maiden season. In November 1996, McLaren rolled out an upgraded GTR "Longtail" model, which wasn’t as successful as the original GTR on the race track but it’s considered one of the most exotic McLarens ever built. With the "Longtail" exactly 20 years old as of November 2016, McLaren celebrates by releasing a handful of high-res pictures of a Gulf-liveried example.

Developed for the 1997 racing season, the GTR "Longtail" featured a much longer nose and rear section, wider fenders and a bigger rear wing. A complete redesign rather than just an update, the "Longtail" boasted improved aerodynamic downforce in order to compete with prototypes such as the Porsche 911 GT1 and Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR. Unlike the exterior, the interior carried over from the standard GTR, but McLaren added a new steering wheel, gear shifter, and center stack.

More changes were operated under the hood, where a stroke reduction brought the BMW-sourced 6.1-liter V-12 down to 6.0 liters in an attempt to prolong its life and improve reliability. The gearbox was also replaced with a new X-trac six-speed sequential transmission with quicker shifts. FIA-spec cars were still limited to the 600-horsepower output imposed by the air restrictor, but cars entered in other series had their engines tweaked to generate as much as 900 horses. For a race car that tipped the scales at only 2,018 pounds, it was downright amazing.

But, despite its redesigned aerodynamics, the F1 GTR "Longtail" was unable to compete with the new Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR, which won the FIA GT championship with a comfortable lead. The McLaren teams finished second and third in the standings in what became the F1’s final official season in GT racing. At the 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans, the GTR finished second and third, behind the seemingly unbeatable TWR Porsche WSC-95, but ahead of the 911 GT1 and several LMP cars. An impressive performance given the circumstances; one that McLaren takes great pride in given that the anniversary photo shoot was made with the Gulf-liveried, No. 41 "Longtail" that finished second at Le Mans in the hands of Jean-Marc Gounon, Pierre-Henri Raphanel and Anders Olofsson.

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Why it matters

McLaren F1 GTR "Longtail" Turns 20, Gets Artistic Photo Shoot High Resolution Exterior
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Fetching millions of dollars at auctions in just about any configuration, the F1 GTR "Longtail" is already considered a classic car, despite being only 20 years old. That’s a privilege not even Ferrari models can enjoy and this says a lot about the F1 GTR’s place in automotive history. The fact that McLaren rolls out fresh photos of its iconic supercar now and then makes things that much better.

Read our full review on the McLaren F1 GTR "Longtail" here.

Source: McLaren

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