This is the first McLaren F1 to be restored and certified by McLaren’s new F1 certification program

McLaren Special Operations may be known for building exclusive one-off creations, but it’s now expanding its workload with the launch of a new certification program for the British automaker’s most iconic model, the F1. Part of the new program’s objectives is to authenticate the history and specification of a specific McLaren F1. Coinciding with the launch of the program is the first McLaren F1 to get fully certified: the 1997 F1 GTR Longtail “25R.”

What is special about the McLaren F1 GTR ‘25R’ restoration

2018 McLaren F1 GTR ‘25R' Restoration Exterior
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This certification program was a long time in the making. Now that it’s up and running, owners of the McLaren F1, without question the most famous McLaren model in history, can have their prized exotics certified, and if need be, restored. According to McLaren, the F1 Certified program was developed, specifically for the purpose of guaranteeing the “authenticity of both road and track versions of the Le Mans-winning supercar.” Not only does it give peace of mind to current owners of the F1, but it’s also a very useful document to have in the event of a transaction that specifically involves the F1.

Only 106 McLaren F1s — 64 road cars and 28 GTR race cars — were built from 1993 to 1998 so it’s not that big of a list to begin with.

To get the program rolling, McLaren showed off the first F1 model to get certified and restored by McLaren Special Operations.

The model, referred to as the McLaren F1 GTR “25R,” was one of three Longtail versions of the F1 GTR that competed for the Gulf-Davidoff team during the 1997 GT racing season. Notice the iconic Gulf Oil livery? Looks amazing, doesn’t it?

2018 McLaren F1 GTR ‘25R' Restoration
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In addition to competing in GT races that year, the F1 GTR “25R” also competed at that same year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans race where it was driven by Ray Bellm, Andrew Gilbert-Scott, and Masanori Sekiya. It didn’t end up finishing the race — a fractured oil line forced it to retire after 22 hours of racing — but the damages were repaired by the factory before it sold the car to a racing outfit in Japan, which, in turn, continued to race it until 2005.

Since its retirement from racing competition, the F1 GTR “25R” stayed in Japan until 2016, when it was bought by its current owner, who brought it back to the U.K. where it’s being curated by classic car consultancy Kidston SA.

Unfortunately, the F1 GTR “25R” had some rough years during its racing career. While it wasn’t completely dilapidated, it still needed a ground-up restoration to get it back to “as new “ condition. That’s where McLaren’s MSO division enters the picture.

“McLaren cherishes its rich heritage of iconic and world-beating cars such as the F1,” McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt said. “’25R’ presented us with a unique opportunity to demonstrate this by restoring it to precisely how it was when it raced at Le Mans in 1997, thus ensuring its future. Maintaining the integrity of these historically significant cars is paramount and F1 Certified will play a big role in allowing us to do that for the peace of mind of owners today as well as preserving a wonderful heritage for future generations of car lovers.”

2018 McLaren F1 GTR ‘25R' Restoration Exterior
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For the record, MSO used new, old-stock GTR parts that have been stored at the factory in containers, a lot of which haven’t been opened in 20 years. There’s nothing more “original” than unopened parts that have been unused and untouched in the last two decades. Even more impressive, at least in this case, is the fact that all the parts that are specific to the 1997 McLaren F1 GTR were built before June 1997.

MSO’s work also included dressing up the F1 GTR “25R” in the same exact Gulf-Davidoff livery, right down to the iconic colors of Gulf Oil.

A “39” livery was also added as a nod to the car’s official race number when it competed at the 1997 Le Mans 24 Hours.

2018 McLaren F1 GTR ‘25R' Restoration Exterior
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The restoration and certification process on the F1 GTR “25R’ also includes a certificate of authenticity, ensuring current and future owners that no less than McLaren itself has validated the race car’s legitimacy. As far as authorities on the subject are concerned, there’s nobody higher on that list than the company that built the car in the first place.

The COA, as it is, includes confirmation of the race car’s provenance, originality, service life, road and race history, and most importantly, condition.

Likewise, the COA also covers details of the car’s original specifications and details on past upgrades that were sanctioned by McLaren. There’s no going around what the F1 Certified program can do. It not only covers the legitimacy of the F1 GTR “25R,” it covers every detail of the car’s history, right down to the specifics.

For a car as important as the McLaren F1, nothing less is acceptable.

Further reading

1995 - 1997 McLaren F1 GTR High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 1995-1997 McLaren F1 GTR.

McLaren F1 GTR Long Tail for sale
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Read our full review on the 1997 Gulf McLaren F1 GTR Longtail.

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Read more McLaren news.

Press release

McLaren Automotive, the British manufacturer of luxury, high-performance sportscars and supercars, today introduces a new service to authenticate the heritage of iconic McLaren F1 supercars. The launch of the new programme is coincident with the unveiling of the first F1 to be approved for certification, the renowned ‘25R’ 1997 F1 GTR Longtail. Pristine after a full restoration to ‘as new’ condition by McLaren Special Operations, the last F1 GTR to compete in period is one of the stars of the Hampton Court Concours of Elegance (31 August – 2 September 2018).

“Even among F1 GTRs, this car, designated ‘25R’, is unique – and now it is as near to being new as we can make it,” commented Ansar Ali, Managing Director, McLaren Special Operations (MSO). “The car is the exemplar of everything that the new certification programme stands for and we are proud to have ‘25R’ as the very first McLaren F1 Certified car.”

Announced at Hampton Court with the unveiling of the chassis number 25 car, the F1 Certified programme has been developed to guarantee the authenticity of both road and track versions of the Le Mans-winning supercar, offering ultimate peace of mind for current and future owners. 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.

Along with the certificate, owners receive a bespoke illustrated book documenting the history of their car. In total 106 McLaren F1s were built between 1993-98, among them 64 road cars and 28 GTR race cars, and all are eligible for the scheme.

A veteran of many endurance events in period including the Le Mans 24 Hours, over the past 18 months ‘25R’ has been restored to ‘as new’ condition by McLaren Special Operations. Using original F1 GTR parts held by the factory, the restoration has returned the car to the same specification and livery it had when it ran at Le Mans in the first year it raced.

The top-level circuit career of F1 GTR ‘25R’ spanned eight years and several continents. It was built as one of three Longtail cars for the Gulf-Davidoff team to compete in GT racing in 1997 and driven at Le Mans that year by Ray Bellm, Andrew Gilbert-Scott and Masanori Sekiya. It was forced out two hours from the end of the race when an oil line fractured, causing a fire. Repaired by the factory, ‘25R’ was subsequently sold to a team in Japan where it continued racing until 2005. At the Fuji Speedway that year it became the last F1 GTR ever to compete in a contemporary race series.

After being on static display in a Japanese collection, it was sold to the current owner and brought back to the UK in 2016. The owner’s collection is curated by classic car consultancy Kidston SA, founded by McLaren owner Simon Kidston, also a leading international broker of McLaren F1 cars. Kidston SA entrusted the car to McLaren Special Operations in Woking as, battle-scarred from years of racing, ‘25R’ needed extensive remedial work. Refurbishment became a ground-up restoration to ‘as new’ condition using new, old-stock GTR parts stored at the factory in containers last opened 20 years ago.

The new parts used in ‘25R’ go further than being specific to the 1997 GTR; they are all pre-June 1997 parts, ensuring the car is exactly as it would have been in the run-up to Le Mans that year. This includes the ‘tall’ Le Mans gearing and the blue roof identification lights – taken from an aircraft’s wing, and the only non-McLaren part in the entire car – with which the car was fitted for Le Mans.

With the new body panels displaying the exact Gulf-Davidoff team livery and bearing the car’s 1997 Le Mans number 39, ‘25R’ is a true 21-years-old time-warp machine, as visitors to the Hampton Court Concours of Elegance will witness.

“McLaren cherishes its rich heritage of iconic and world-beating cars such as the F1,” said McLaren Automotive Chief Executive Officer Mike Flewitt. “’25R’ presented us with a unique opportunity to demonstrate this by restoring it to precisely how it was when it raced at Le Mans in 1997, thus ensuring its future. Maintaining the integrity of these historically significant cars is paramount and F1 Certified will play a big role in allowing us to do that for the peace of mind of owners today as well as preserving a wonderful heritage for future generations of car lovers.”

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