Here’s something you don’t see down at the used car lot very much: A McLaren F1 GTR Long Tail, that would be the racing version of the Gordon Murray-designed, BMW-powered three seater that redefined what the concept of “supercar” is. Not only is it the race version, but it’s all laid out in Gulf Oil colors.
For the uninitiated, the McLaren F1 was the brainchild of Gordon Murray. Murray is from South Africa, and as a kid, and like a lot of us gearheads, he spent a lot of time drawing racecars on the covers of various notebooks. One concept that you could see him draw over and over again was a radical, three seat sports car. The driver sat in the middle, and was flanked by his two passengers.
Fast forward a few decades, and Gordon Murray is now one of the senior and most respected designers in all of Formula One racing. Championship winning cars for the likes of Brabham, and his then-current employer, McLaren, innovations up the ying-yang (go look up “Brabham fan car” on Google and see what you get), but he still ha that three-seater idea rattling around upstairs.
So he somehow convinced the head dude at McLaren, Ron Dennis, to not only build the thing, but fund it (and prying money out of Ron’s hand is like opening up a clam with a popsicle stick).
By the time Murray was done the automotive benchmarks had been considerable moved. The F1 was light, way under 3000 pounds, motivated by a 6 liter BMW V12, and everything that could be was carbon fiber, not just the body-work, but the chassis itself. The performance numbers were huge, but the one that stuck out the most was the F1’s top speed: 243 MPH
Now, at those speeds the F1’s handling was dodgy at best. No less a driver than Mario Andretti described the handling as “spooky” and used phrases like “I think there’s some serious aero problems at those speeds,” but still, if you had the room and the attachments, you could get it to go over 240.
Aero problems you say Mario? Well funny he should mention that, because around the same time he was speaking, McLaren were modifying the F1 to go Le Mans racing … and the first thing that Murray did was add on a long, aero streamlined tail and a big honkin’ wing (the original F1 had an active aero flap at the back, but that sort of stuff is strictly verboten on the race track, so it had to go).
Which leads us to the extremely rare McLaren F1 GTR long tail in Gulf team livery that we now see up for sale.
How rare, you ask? Well McLaren only made 100 F1s to begin with, and out of those, only 28 were F1 GTR race cars built for private customers competing in the FIA GT series and the 24 Heures du Mans. The one that’s up for sale is supposedly the last model of the series with chassis number #28R, and belonged to the ‘Gulf Team Davidoff’ outfit and features the characteristic stretched bodywork of the ‘Long Tail’ F1 GTR, which McLaren only made ten of in 1997.
In addition to the long tail aerodynamic treatment and the wider rear wing, the ’97 models also featured improvements to the 600HP BMW Motorsport V12 mill, an all-new sequential transmission and they lopped off enough weight to get the beast tipping the scales at a Miata-like 2,017 lbs.
One word: ee-YOW!!!!
If you’ve got the scratch, then dig deeper, cause it’s up for sale … and if you’ve got that kind of money, and a hankering for cars like this, give me a call, cause you just became my new best friend.
Photo from Flickr user Evil Monkey Ali