10 Interesting Facts About The McLaren F1

What is considered to many as the greatest supercar every built, the McLaren F1 was like nothing anybody had seen before. Conceived by Ron Dennis and F1 designer Gordon Murray, the car turned out to be one of the most legendary vehicles every built and is still the benchmark for many cars today. We’ve created a list of 10 interesting facts about the F1 below.

10 – The inspiration for the doors came from a Toyota 

The McLaren F1 was not only designed to be the world’s fastest production car, but it was also designed to provide a certain spectacle that all supercars should have. Strangely the inspiration for the McLaren’s dihedral doors didn’t came from another supercar, but a Toyota. Apparently Murray drove past a Toyota Sera every day and took inspiration from that.

He said “Eventually we borrowed a Sera and the design started from there. The final design was fixed with Bruce Mackintosh and myself late one night when we mocked up the doors in a wireframe on the seating buck. It was necessary to remove part of the roof and part of the floor to give the driver access to the central seat so a conventional door wouldn’t work.”

9 – The three-seat layout was not for looks, but to be more practical

The decision to go with the F1’s three seat layout was to be more practical. The design team wanted to solve two big problems with supercars: visibility and pedal offset.

8 – The world speed record was six years in the making 

The McLaren F1’s production started in 1992 and ended in 1998, however it wasn’t until the last year of production that McLaren set the production car world speed record. The McLaren F1 reached a speed of 240.1 mph (386.4 km/hr) on the 31 March 1998.

7 – Only 106 cars were produced

From 1992 to 1998 only 106 McLaren F1’s were produced, making it one of the rarest cars in existence. There were also two McLaren F1’s created with a extra high downforce package, making them even more rare.

6 – The lift-flap cover was inspired by a WWII fighter plane

Starting a car such as the McLaren F1 would be a spectacle in itself, but the British company decided to go the extra mile with the starting ceremony. They put a cover that lifted up over the starter motor, which was inspired by a WWII fighter plane.

Murray said, “I really wanted the start to be an event. We cancelled the electronic signal to the starter for two full rpm so that the driver could hear that starter engage (something I remember being special in my air-cooled 911 Porsche). I had to delay the start because a 60deg V12 is a perfect firing-up machine.”

5 – The gold engine bay wasn’t just for show

As cool as a gold engine may be, the McLaren’s use of gold foil wasn’t just for show. The gold foil was used as a heat shield in the exhaust compartment.

4 – Honda or Isuzu could have supplied the engine 

The 6.1-litre S70/2 V12 engine made its way  into the McLaren F1, but that’s not what Gordon Murray wanted. Murray initially approached Honda (partners with McLaren in Formula One at the time) to provide the engine for the F1. Honda refused and then Isuzu propositioned McLaren with there 3.5-litre V12 engine that they planned to use in Formula One. McLaren declined Isuzu’s offer and went with the BMW engine due to the Isuzu engine being proven and having a racing pedigree.

3 – The F1 started the trend of swept dial needles

In keeping with the trend of making the F1’s startup a spectacle, Ron Dennis suggested that the needles for the dials could sweep upon startup. This was included and now many other manufacturers do the same.

2 – The leather used in the interior was shaved to save weight

To create the world’s fastest car the designers went to extremes to make the car lightweight. The leather used in the interior of the car was shaved to half its usual thickness. The weight saving from this task saved a mere 5kg. All in the name of speed though.

1 – It was the first production car to use a carbon fibre monocoque chassis 

The weight saving didn’t stop at the interior leather, the McLaren F1 was the first production car to use a complete carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) monocoque chassis structure. The attachment points for the suspension were made from aluminium and magnesuim and were inserted directly into the carbon fibre structure.


  • Ben

    From his early days playing the original Gran Turismo and with his Hot Wheels car set, Ben has had a long interest in all things automotive. His first foray into the world of automotive journalism was way back in 2009 and since then he has only grown more interested in the industry. Ben also runs and heads up the video production side of Garage Dreams, focusing on small informative documentaries about some of the world's most legendary cars.

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