The quickest, most powerful, and most expensive F1 ever built

The McLaren F1 was launched in 1992 and revolutionized the supercar industry more than any other vehicle since the automobile was invented. It was not only the first production car to use a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, but also the first to bring high-tech and expensive materials such as titanium, magnesium, Kevlar, and gold under the same roof. It also had an impressive drag coefficient of only 0.32, a smart interior made of lightweight materials, luggage compartments implemented in each rear fender, and a three-seat configuration with the driver placed in the middle, just like in a Formula One car.

Developed and built by Gordon Murray, arguably the best designed since Colin Chapman, the F1 also spawned a successful race car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans at its first attempt, as well as a number of limited-edition models that went on to become some of the rarest and most expensive cars launched in 1990s. One of them is the F1 LM, a supercar McLaren built to celebrate its Le Mans victory in 1995. The LM was limited to only five example, the exact number of F1 GTRs that finished the race.

Arguably the quickest and most powerful road car at the time of its introduction, the LM went on to become the most expensive road-going McLaren and a highly sought-after collectible. Find out what makes it special in our full review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the McLaren F1 LM.

  • 1995 McLaren F1 LM
  • Year:
    1995
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V12
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    680@7800
  • Torque @ RPM:
    538@4500
  • Displacement:
    6064 L
  • Top Speed:
    225 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

1995 McLaren F1 LM Exterior
- image 240519

McLaren described the F1 LM as "an untamed Le Mans race car with number plates." This statement was by no means an exaggeration, as the LM’s exterior was almost identical to that of the GTR race car. The body kit was almost entirely sourced from the GTR, including the big rear wing, rear diffuser, roof scoop, and vented front fenders.

The body kit was almost entirely sourced from the GTR.

The only major feature that set the LM apart from the GTR was the front bumper. Although its layout remained the same, the center vents gained a mesh and the splitter was enlarged. Also, the whole element was painted in the same color as the body rather than black on the GTR.

Another unique features was the "GTR-24 Heures du Mans Winners 1995" engraving on the carbon-fiber rear wing. The wheels also grew in width, from 17 to 18 inches in diameter.

McLaren claims that all five production models and the prototype were finished in McLaren Orange as a tribute to Bruce McLaren’s racing color. However, it was later discovered that two of the three LMs delivered to the Sultan of Brunei were painted black.

Interior

1995 McLaren F1 LM Interior
- image 637468

The LM’s cockpit borrowed the GTR lightweight and race-spec design, but some features were modified for slightly increase comfort. While the center-mounted driver seat was made from carbon-fiber just like the race car, McLaren added the two passenger seats offered in the standard F1. McLaren said it originally wanted the LM to have just the central seat, but then realized that owners would want to share the experience with friends.

1995 McLaren F1 LM Interior
- image 87033
1995 McLaren F1 LM Interior
- image 87032
The center-mounted driver seat was made from carbon-fiber just like the race car, McLaren added the two passenger seats offered in the standard F1.

Another major change compared to the GTR was the addition of Alcantara pads to the monocoque. McLaren also replaced the big fuse box in the right-side passenger footwell with a smaller switch panel in order to create more legroom. There was a wider titanium throttle pedal too, and each car came supplied with helicopter-style headsets with the car’s chassis number on them. Finally, the handbrake had lightening pockets mimicking the “fifth bridge” suspension cross-member in the engine bay.

Drivetrain

The F1 LM received the same engine as the F1 GTR, but without the race-mandated restrictors. The unit was pretty much the same as the one in the F1, but tuned to deliver mode power. Using a compression ratio of 11.0:1, the 6.1-liter V-12 in the LM produced 680 horsepower at 7,800 rpm and a peak torque of 520 pound-feet at 4,500 rpm. That was 80 horsepower more than the FIA-restricted GTR and 53 horses more than the standard F1.

1995 McLaren F1 LM Exterior Drivetrain
- image 637460
The V-12 mated to an upgraded gearbox with gun-drilled driveshaft from the GTR, tripod CV joint and straight cut gears.

The total mass of only 2,341 pounds gave the LM the best power-to-weight ratio of any F1. Actually, the F1 LM has the same power to weight ratio as the McLaren P1, which was developed 18 years later. Impressive!

The V-12 mated to an upgraded gearbox with gun-drilled driveshaft from the GTR, tripod CV joint and straight cut gears. However, the gear ratios were identical to the standard F1. Although McLaren gave the GTR a magnesium casing for the gearbox in 1996, LM models built after that didn’t receive the update.

Performance-wise, the F1 LM was estimated to hit 60 mph from a standing start in only three seconds, some two tenths quicker than the F1. However, this figure was often altered by the huge wheels spin at the start due to the massive output sent to the rear wheels only. Top speed was rated at 225 mph, six mph less than the F1 with the rev limiter (nearly 10 less without) due to added aerodynamic drag.

The specially designed, 18-inch, magnesium alloy wheels were wrapped in Michelin tires developed for grip (but apparently not grippy enough for the V-12). Stopping power came from F1-sourced and revised discs and calipers and not the carbon-ceramic brakes on the GTR. On the other hand, the LM borrowed the race car’s brake cooling system.

Prices

1995 McLaren F1 LM Exterior
- image 637476

Although McLaren never divulged the official price of the F1 LM, owner had to pay significantly more than a regular F1, which sold for around $1 million. Given the extremely limited run, pricing was probably set anywhere between $1.5 and 2 million. Only five units were built, three of which were shipped to the Sultan of Brunei. A sixth chassis exists as the XP1 LM, the prototype used to modify the F1 into the F1 LM. Also painted Papaya Orange like most LMs, is retained by McLaren at its factory in Woking. Reportedly worth more than $5 million, this car was promised by McLaren CEO Ron Dennis to race driver Lewis Hamilton if he should win two Formula One World Championship titles. However, Hamilton left McLaren with just one World Championship title to drive for Mercedes in 2013.

Two decades since its introduction, the LM is one of the most valuable F1 ever created. In 2015, one of the five existing models was sold at a Sotheby’s auction event at Pebble Beach for a whopping $13,75 million. For a car built in 1998 that was only 17 years old at the time of the auction, that’s a whole lot of cash.

Competition

Bugatti EB110 SS

1993 Bugatti EB 110 SS
- image 2228
Bugatti Eb 110 SS

Introduced in 1991, the EB110 was the first vehicle to wear a Bugatti badge since 1962. Developed after Romano Artioli acquired the Bugatti brand and established Bugatti Automobili S.p.A. in 1987, the EB110 remained in production until the brand went bankrupt in 1995. Although the EB110 was never delivered in a track-ready package similar to the F1 LM, Bugatti did release an SS version that was lighter and more powerful than the standard model. Although it used a significantly smaller engine compared to the McLaren at only 3.5 liters, the four turbochargers enabled the V-12 to generate 603 horsepower and push the supercar from 0 to 60 mph in only 3.2 seconds and toward a top speed of 216 mph. It wasn’t as quick and powerful as the F1 LM, but it was among the quickest of its era. Pricing was set at $380,000 in its first year on the market. One decade later, Bugatti unleashed the Veyron, the supercar that defeated the McLaren F1 to become the world’s fastest production car.

Find out more about the Bugatti EB110 SS here.

Lamborghini Diablo SE Jota

1993 - 1993 Lamborghini Diablo SE 30
- image 7452
Lamborghini Diablo SE 30

Launched in 1990, the Diablo is one of the most important supercars of the 1990s. Also powered by a naturally aspirated V-12, this time around displacing 5.7 liters, the Diabo was build in several specifications. The most powerful version that launched while the F1 LM was still around was the SE Jota. Essentially an upgraded SE with more power and better aerodynamics, the Jota came with 595 horsepower and 471 pound-feet of torque on tap and remained the most powerful Diablo until the nameplate’s discontinuation in 2001. The Jota needed 3.8 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start on its way to a top speed of 3.8 seconds. Only 15 were built, making it the rarest Diablo ever produced.

Read more about the Lamborghini Diablo here.

Conclusion

1995 McLaren F1 LM High Resolution Exterior
- image 240516

Building a road-legal car that was more powerful than its racing counterpart was mostly unheard of back in the 1990s. But McLaren did it and delivered one of the most spectacular supercar ever created. The fact that the F1 LM is a lot more expensive (despite being more than 20 years old) than modern supercars with a lot more power and technology in them speaks volumes of its incredible legacy. Granted, sports car makers have launched plenty of incredible vehicles over the last two decades, and McLaren even revived the LM name for the P1, but the F1 LM is unique in its own right and still has the ability to give modern supercars a run for their money thanks to its fantastic power-to-weight ratio.

  • Leave it
    • * Only five produced
    • * Incredibly expensive
    • * You can’t buy one even if you have the dough
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