Go behind the scenes as RM Sotheby’s checks out a pre-sale McLaren F1

Of all the places where you can meet your hero, the dusty restoration shop in Seaside, California, is among the most underrated. Nothing seems more outdated than a scene of a lightly disassembled McLaren F1 in a nondescript warehouse space, similar to stumbling upon a great Hollywood beauty going under the knife in a modern setting; The back roads of Monterey Car Week are a long way from Woking, England. This 1998 F1 number is number 059, which happens to be the F1 race number that Le Mans won, and will be up for auction in a sealed bid with RM Sotheby’s on Saturday, August 20.

RM Sotheby’s

With only 64 road models and 106 cars in total, F1 is, according to many, the supercar to end all supercars. Continuous appreciation in value has supported this theory, with the last sale (chassis #029) at Gooding & Company selling for $20.5 million at auction in 2021. This sale was a recent to death, 243 mile specimen still wearing a Goodyear Eagle F1s The original and paired with a matching TAG Heuer watch – a platonic ideal for the obsessive-compulsive types, the suffering of those who actually enjoy driving.

A McLaren F1 authority known as the Peloton25 (first name: Erik) says there’s room for more, noting that “Gooding has been pointing out the car’s ultra-high-powered blue LEDs for several days, and a lot of people have been given the impression that its nice brown color was some kind of Purple color. He also says that Formula 1 cars tend to sell in private transactions more than at auction, noting when Lewis Hamilton bought chassis #044 in 2017 for $15.6 million, while in the same year Gordon Murray’s F1—admittedly, the unique XP3 prototype from His Kind – Made $25 Million in a Private Sale. As he adds, George Harrison’s hands in Formula One traded privately last year for a known heavenly sum. “I can’t see the wire transfer, but I’ve been told that car is over $35 million in price. It’s a one-off auction, a bit like Steve McQueen’s premium that everyone else doesn’t make. [F1] valued at more than $35 million. But that’s the direction the market is heading.”

1998 McLaren F1 Inspection

Forest Casey

RM’s newly executed sealed bid arrangement brings some ambiguity into the equation, as the amount of the sale will not be revealed when the auction closes on Saturday, August 20, 4 p.m. PT. This time around, the F1 in question (chassis #059) has few more questions than direct #029 history, given its sparse use recently despite 16,327 miles on the clock. F1 has only accumulated about 100 miles over 10 years of ownership, some of which were required under the EPA certification process that occurred when the car was certified federal in Texas in early 2013. Not exactly a reassuring number for what some consider the best driver’s car of all time.

1998 McLaren F1 Inspection

Forest Casey

As a potential bidder pushed for additional insights beyond McLaren Philadelphia’s documented “spot observations” on July 29, 2022, RM Sotheby’s decided to fly in a technician from F1 specialist Lanzante Limited for closer examination. For this private investigation Jonathan Webb, a senior technologist at Lanzante, brought two log bags full of gear (zipped with a small change of clothing) from the UK for rating #059.

The skinny Briton knows his way around in Formula 1 racing, having pondered the many examples of road and gear racing over the years. While his personal kit covers most of the necessities (including some F1-specific bits like an adapter to connect it to the car’s now old OBD system, and avoid the popular Compaq LTE 5280 laptop), he’s had to borrow bulky items like the massive torque wrench for two-wheel nuts. Central locking from Beverly Hills McLaren.

Forest Casey

Webb efficiently moves around the eight-shape Magnesium Silver F1, measures tolerances with the caliper, peeks through cracks with a flashlight, chasing signs of wear, neglect or irregularity while documenting every nook and cranny with mobile phone footage. Almost all of the needs listed in the 2012 report are still present, with 17 areas requiring attention, including the suspension dampers that need restoration, faulty Pirelli tires (335mm lower rear, not the 345 as planned), and the air conditioner. No cold blowing, miscellaneous mechanical concerns.

Forest Casey

At the top of the lift, the F1’s underside appears predictably flat, with a fine line between the carbon trough at the front and the carbon-fiber tray at the rear which is held in place by 13 steel bolts because the titanium would be too soft for the torque to be replicated. Four small rectangular wooden blocks, like the ones you find under Formula 1 and Le Mans racers, make up for the understated novelty. A closer look reveals details such as small circular indents where the original owner’s pedal boxes were fixed based on personal specs.

Forest Casey

Noted in the 2012 UK report (when mileage was reported at 16202) are unique build features including a one-off factory headlight assembly, which addressed the limited brightness of the stock setup by implanting hardware from the BMW Z1, necessitating a period Longer, Love It- or Hate Brow Palette above. The F1 is also one of nine cars with the factory High Downforce package, which adds a fixed rear spoiler, larger 18-inch wheels (as found on the LM and 1995/1996 variants), brake cooling ducts in the spoiler shaft, and remote reservoirs added to the Bilstein shocks. Defects noted in the writing include windshield crack (covered with tape from the sun), some glass cracks, and many chips and scratches.

Forest Casey

Forest Casey

Crossing the McLaren F1 section by section reveals a seemingly endless string of Easter eggs that distract from the highly directed inspection task. Among the more conspicuous pieces is the rare spectacle of eroded gold foil, one of the most parodied metaphors embedded in an expensive stratospheric supercar. Webb notes that the gold insulating foil on the bonnet, across the firewall, on the catalytic converter housing, diffuser ducts, thermal guards, brake coolant ducts, and fender is falling off and will need replacement, indicating a recommended replacement period of 10 years or so . To the right of the center seat is an aluminum latch marked “E” and “L”, which opens the engine and luggage compartments – the latter releases a hinged door with a strut to facilitate the opening mechanism. Shown from under the car is a luggage compartment vent, which uses air drawn through Venturi tunnels to create a vacuum for airflow. Also inside the vacuum is a small, impossible-to-lock key with a central anodized; On the left side of the car there is another compartment with spare bulbs and fuses, as well as a first aid kit.

Forest Casey

Press the release button, and the dihedral door will release itself and slide upwards with ease, as light as a feather. The revealed cockpit is a masterpiece of minimalism, with cool-to-the-touch metallic surfaces, painted carbon fiber surfaces, and the iconic center-centered driver’s seat staring directly at the giant tachometer and through the deep, remarkably open windshield. The F1 #059 features GT-spec seats, whose black and red Daytona styling was an upgrade over the standard setup. The steering wheel was also non-standard, a removable Nardi unit sold commercially as the Tornado 200. The Peloton 25 believes it was on one of only seven or eight. The wheel removes through a spring-loaded collar and includes small index finger operated paddles, one for the blink, the other for the horn. The tiny paddles click with satisfying feedback and draw from an internal 9V battery to power the infrared transponder. As with many F1 proprietary components, the battery has a life span regardless of use, and requires replacement every two years.

Which brings us back to the wants and needs of this under-motivated example. As McLaren Philadelphia’s Kevin Haynes points out in his report, this Formula 1 car needs fuel systems service, which is an engine drain troublesome that is required every five years because the tank consists of a plastic bag, as in racing cars. Webb says that “while you’re there,” it’s also time to service the engine, pull the gearbox out, and measure things like the thickness of the clutch plate. Pulleys and belts need to be replaced, as well as check dimples, check for oil leaks, recharge the HVAC unit, and the like, not to mention refurbish those thermally protective gold foil. Incidentally, McLaren Special Operations now offers an aluminum tank replacement with no service requirements, as is the case with the supplier made available through Dean Lanzante.

If this all sounds like a lot, it is. But for a car potentially in the $20 million range, universal service is also a drop in the proverbial bucket, notes Peloton 25.

“In 2015, Temple 005 escaped the clutches of the Brunei royal family,” he says. “It needed a complete makeover, just like this car, and probably stayed longer than this car. The bill from MSO was around $120,000. That’s the price of a great BMW. But at the same time, it’s also less than 1 percent of its value.” The car is at this point.” Fair enough.

Speaking of value, one cannot speak of McLaren F1 cars without transaction prices creeping into the conversation, a trend that has tainted the simple joy of driving a supercar with abandon. The prime example is F1 designer and teacher himself Gordon Murray, who once said maximum speed He sold his F1 car because it “has become a bit difficult to own.”

Here’s another tragic point to chew on: Peloton25 says, “If you look back at 25The tenthAnniversary tour in 2017, there were 22 cars; This year for 30The tenth They had about ten.”

Forest Casey

After spending some time with Webb checking it out (and a few minutes sitting in the driver’s seat dreaming of the grandeur of a V-12 engine), we head back to the Monterey convention center where the F1 will be shown, and sit down to lunch on the sidewalk at a nearby restaurant. Although we’re surrounded by a typical array of classic and exotic cars at Car Week, one thing catches the public’s attention: a McLaren F1 #059, high on the flat bed of an outdoor tow truck as it rolls down the Boulevard. . The noise is immediate and tangible, passing through the crowd like a wave as it turns heads and utters expletives. “There are 20 million!” A spectator watches.

Or more. We may never know.

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