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Fancy buying one of the rarest, fastest and most desirable supercars ever? Then look no further than this McLaren F1 in ultimate LM form.
The 1994 example will cross the block in Monterey in August as the star of the RM Sotheby’s auction, and is sure to be in demand: it’s one of only eight McLaren F1s in LM guise.
However, there is a catch – it’s expected to sell for an astonishing $21-23m (£16.8-18.4m).
So, what’s so special about the F1 LM anyway?
Well, consider first that even in ‘standard’ form the F1 is an automotive legend thanks to its combination of sleek beauty, blistering performance, racing history and exclusivity.
Designed by Gordon Murray, it was always intended to be the ultimate road car and from the moment it launched in 1992 it was clear that it would achieve that ambition with ease.
On testing it, our sister magazine Autocar described it as "the finest driving machine yet built for the public road", and it has been voted the greatest car ever in more than one public poll. Oh, and for several years it also held the world speed record for a production car.
As if all that wasn't enough, McLaren decided to take it racing too, and in 1995 a modified F1 GTR duly won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with others finishing third, fourth, fifth and 13th.
To celebrate that success, McLaren created the track-oriented but road-legal F1 LM; the initials stand for Le Mans, obviously. Only six were initially built – one prototype plus five others – although two other F1s were later converted to LM spec by McLaren.
This car, chassis 018, is one of those two.
The LM cars differ from other McLaren F1s in two main ways.
Firstly, they received a High-Downforce Kit of aerodynamic effects, including a revised nose with front wing vents and a huge rear wing, to mirror those on the F1 GTR.
And secondly, they were fitted with a more powerful LM-spec engine which gave it a whopping 680bhp at 7800rpm thanks to upgraded cams and pistons, an increased compression ratio and the addition of air pressure sensors.
The two F1s upgraded to LM-spec by McLaren – of which this is one – were even more exclusive. They got an Extra-High Downforce Kit, making them even more aerodynamic than the others, plus a raft of other options.
For instance, whereas the original five LMs (and the prototype) were distinctly spartan inside, the two converted models got such treats as upgraded air-conditioning, a radio and CD player and a 14in steering wheel, plus bigger 18-inch GTR wheels.
As you might imagine, McLaren F1 LMs don’t come up for sale very often. The prototype is still owned by McLaren, and the Sultan of Brunei bought three of the other five. Ralph Lauren also owns one, with the final example being in a private collection in the United States.
That leaves the two converted LMs. One of them, chassis 073, sold for $13.75m (£11m) at auction in 2015 – again with RM Sotheby’s – and was also offered for private sale with RM last year, with an expected price tag of around $20m; we don’t know if it sold, but it’s no longer listed with the firm.
Chassis 018 has itself been sold several times over the past 25 years, ending up with its current owner, Andrew Bagnall, in 2007.
“Bruce McLaren was a hero of mine,” he says, “and I have had the pleasure of owning this amazing car for many years, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed driving it as intended throughout my entire period of ownership.
“I look forward to attending the auction in Monterey and hope the next owner will enjoy this truly extraordinary machine as much as I have.”
Now finished in platinum silver metallic with a cream leather interior offset by lashings of beige and brown Alcantara and cream Wilton carpets, chassis 018 goes to auction in perfect condition and with fewer than 21,500km (13,352 miles) on the clock.
Alexander Weaver, Car Specialist at RM Sotheby’s, said, “The McLaren F1 is the ultimate supercar and has long been regarded as the benchmark by which all others are compared.
“This particular example has always been my favourite and one that is widely regarded as the most desirable of all specifications. No other car stirs more emotions and evokes more excitement.
“Being the most highly evolved specification at a fraction of the price of an unobtanium LM, this is the one to buy and hold for many years of enjoyment to come. It truly is an opportunity not to be missed.”
The RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction takes place on 15-17 August. You can view a full lot list here.
Images: Andrei Diomidov/RM Sotheby’s