Image credits: © McLaren.

1995 McLaren F1 GTR

In 1995, the McLaren F1 GTR achieved its place in history by winning the Le Mans endurance race at the first attempt. Not only did the F1 GTR finish first, it also occupied 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th places when the flag came down after 24 gruelling hours.

To celebrate this extraordinary feat, McLaren Cars created a limited edition of just five LM's - one for every F1 GTR which finished the race. Whilst the LM is a model in its own right, the concept was that it should be a 1995 F1 GTR, with the minimum modifications to make it usable on the road.

Thus the LM runs the most powerful engine of any F1, road or race, by using an 1995 GTR engine without the air restrictors. It also features the race car aerodynamics, gearbox and 18' inch wheels.

1995 McLaren F1 GTRAs a tribute to the memory of Bruce McLaren, all the F1 LM's were painted in the same Papaya Orange that was used on his contemporary Formula One and Can Am cars.

Inside the LM, the driver sits in an all carbon fibre race seat, and the passenger seats are moulded into the moncoque. With minimal trim, the interior carbon is beautifully finished in high gloss lacquer.

With 680 bhp and weighing some 60kg less than the F1 road car, the F1 LM is the fastest accelerating F1 of all.

Source - McLaren Cars Ltd
In 1995, seven McLaren F1 GTR's were entered into the grueling and prestigious LeMans 24 Hours race. When the checkered flag fell, the GTR had captured an astonishing 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th overall and 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the GT class. McLaren became the first manufacturer to score four of the top five places with a vehicle debut. The winning GTR had never been raced prior to the race and has not been raced since.

The F1 GTR cars were built by McLaren cars LTD which is a subsidiary of the McLaren Formula One Team. At the time of its development, it was the most expensive, most powerful and fastest production car in the world. This unique vehicle had a modified BMW 6.1 liter 12-cylinder engine placed in the rear to capitalize on weight-distribution. With nearly 630 horsepower, the F1 GTR could race from zero-to-sixty in just over three seconds and had a reported top speed of over 230 mph. It holds the record for the highest top speed of 240.1 mph.

There were three seats with the driver sitting in the middle. The purpose was to once again capitalize on weight distribution and provided the driver with optimal viewing capabilities of the road. The draw back was that it is difficult to enter and exit this vehicle. The driver had to negotiate their body into this very low vehicle and then climb over a passenger seat. To be in command of these highly capable machines is well worth the obstacle course.

During the production lifespan, lasting from 1991 to 1998, only 100 cars were created, making this a very exclusive automobile. The McLaren F1 production began in 1991 and resulted in a total of 64 examples being created. There were five LM cars created to celebrate the historical achievements accomplished at LeMans, one for each of the F1 GTR's that finished the LeMans race. The F1 LM was very similar to the LeMans cars but they were modified to achieve street legal status. The engine was tuned slightly to produce an astonishing 680 horsepower. There were three GT models created. The GT cars were built to capitalize on down-force, much like the LeMans cars had done. The bodywork was extended and a redesign of the rear deck helped achieve this low drag goal.

From 1995 through 1998, twenty-eight examples of the GTR were created. The F1 GTR's varied slightly from year to year. Some were designed to race in 4 hour races while others were built for 24 hour endurance races. Specifications often varied based on the race and on the buyer.

In 1996, the BPR GT Series created regulations that limited to the maximum engine output to no more than 600 horsepower and must have a minimum weight of 1000kg. McLaren responded by shedding around 100KG and achieving the minimum weight requirements. The engine was detuned to produce 600 horsepower. Aerodynamics and down-force were improved by the adaptation of a larger rear wing. At the 1996 LeMans, the F1 GTR finished in fourth-place overall.

The changes continued in 1997 when stricter regulations were placed on the FIA GT Series and the LeMans 24 Hour race. Weight reduction, aerodynamic changes, engine improvements, and a new sequential transmission were a few of the necessary modifications to the vehicle. When all was said-and-done, the vehicle weighed in at just over 910 kg.


By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2006

Related Reading : McLaren F1 History

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