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McLaren celebrates 20th anniversary of the legendary McLaren F1

Wed, 26 May 2010

McLaren Automotive celebrated the 20th anniversary of the start of the F1 program by inviting F1 owners past and present to a celebration dinner at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England. The owners were treated to a display of 21 McLaren F1 road and race cars, the largest number of F1 cars ever assembled in one place.

It all started in 1988, when McLaren made the decision to expand from Formula One and design and build what it called "the finest sports car the world had ever seen." In March 1990, the team created to build that car came together for the first time.

Just two years later, the McLaren F1 road car was launched on May 28, 1992, in Monaco, with the first production car delivered to its owner in December 1993.

Now in its 20th-anniversary year, many still consider the McLaren F1 one of the greatest cars of all time. McLaren says its exclusivity, technical innovation, racing provenance, revolutionary packaging and extraordinary driving experience have made it an icon.

Hard to argue with that.

The F1 defined the McLaren road car DNA: low weight, efficient packaging, superb quality, innovative design and an outstanding driving experience. The car was launched at a price of about $750,000 in 1994, and over the course of the next four years 64 F1, five F1 LM and three F1 GT road cars were produced, together with 28 F1 GTR race cars. An additional six prototypes were produced.

In 1994, after pressure from owners, McLaren developed a racing version of the F1 road car to run in the FIA's GT1 class. The F1 GTR won the 1995 GT1 Championship as well as Le Mans. In fact, McLaren not only won but dominated the rain-soaked endurance race, finishing in first, third, fourth, fifth and 13th.

The F1 GTR secured for McLaren a unique position in racing history, as the only manufacturer to win the Formula One world championship, the Indianapolis 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours.

McLaren decided to celebrate the extraordinary Le Mans result by creating five F1 LM road cars, one for each F1 that finished. Launched in McLaren Orange, as used on Bruce McLaren's race cars the 1960s and '70s and with a derestricted race engine, the LM is not only the most powerful of all F1 variants, but also the most valuable. F1 fans will recognize this as the car which Lewis Hamilton has set his heart on owning.

By 1998, there were a total of 106 built, and its production run was complete.

McLaren's celebration of the 20th anniversary of the F1 will continue throughout the year. McLaren enthusiasts will have the opportunity to see more F1s at this summer's Goodwood Festival of Speed, which takes place at the famous English motorsport venue July 2-4.

By Wes Raynal