In 1997, Rowan Atkinson paid more than half a million pounds for his dark maroon McLaren F1, and since then he's covered an incredible 40,000 miles in all weathers. However, in 2011 while driving on the A605 in Cambridgeshire, Atkinson lost control of the F1. Accelerating hard in fourth gear, the car ran over a damp patch of road, went into a spin, and crashed heavily against a tree. The engine and drivetrain ended up nearly 20 yards from the wreckage, while Atkinson suffered a broken shoulder blade.
The car was quickly transported to McLaren for their assessment, and after four weeks the bill was in: £910,000. Fortunately, thanks to the astronomical rise in F1 values, repairing the car was a no-brainer for the insurance company. What followed was one of the most extensive and painstaking restorations ever carried out by the firm.
C&SC was there every step of the way.
A concerned looking Atkinson inspects the damaged shell, now stripped of most of its trim and components.
The full force of the impact is clear to see – the engine and drivetrain were ripped from the car during the crash, tearing the carbon fibre bodywork.
Stripping away the interior reveals original markings from 1997, when the team that worked on Atkinson's F1 daubed their names behind the centre console.
After months of careful reconstruction, the car is finally ready for the paint shop. The dark maroon headlight covers hint at the McLaren's former life.
After the fresh paint is applied, the naturally aspirated 12 cylinder heart of the car is fitted.
Atkinson is well known for driving his McLaren in all weathers, even taking it to the local shops. Things are no different during our photo shoot, which took place in the pouring rain.
Following the F1's restoration, Atkinson told C&SC: "Getting back into it after 16 months was like putting on an old sweater."
The F1, which was originally sold by McLaren at a loss, is now worth as much as £8million – and it could be yours.