November 13, 2009

Most Expensive Cars: Mclaren F1

As one of the world’s most expensive cars, the McLaren F1 street car’s statistics are amazing and performance is awesome. Yet more important perhaps is the man behind the McLaren F1 car: famed designer Gordon Murray. Murray created and built F1 (Formula One) cars for both Brabham and McLaren, winning six driver’s championships and four constructor’s championships. Murray, who had become tired of the drama in the sport of top-tier automobile racing, decided it was time to move on, and he set his sights on revolutionizing streetcars in the McLaren F1.

Murray’s first unusual step with the McLaren was with the design of the cockpit. At the time of the McLaren’s design, most sports cars had only two seats. Murray saw the potential for another layout: three seats. So the McLaren was designed as a three-seater. It has a lone seat in the middle for the driver, and two aft seats on either side for the passengers. The design optimizes the central location and balance for a driver, yet makes it possible for two other people to ride along without either being cramped or forcing the driver to move his seat forward to accommodate them.

Murray insisted the McLaren be as fast and nimble as possible. To achieve this, he used cutting-edge materials in the car. Carbon fiber, titanium, magnesium, kevlar and even gold were utilized in the manufacturing of this vehicle. The McLaren became the first car to use a monocoque chassis, meaning the car was built as one structure and all the components – including the engine, drive train and wheels – were hung off the cockpit. It is neither turbocharged nor supercharged, but employs eight cams and variable timing to maximize power and torque at the low end of the power band. This car is equipped with a huge 6.1-liter V-12 engine that develops 627 horsepower. It’s capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in just over three seconds, and 0 to 100 mph in just over six.

The public first saw the car – priced at just under $1 million – in May 1991. After only eight years, production ceased in 1998. Only 106 cars were ever manufactured, 64 of which were the standard street version. The others were either specialty orders or racecars. The final few cars were produced purely as racecars, with the final car reportedly promised by McLaren to the 2008 F1 World Champion driver Lewis Hamilton. If he can win three Formula One World Championship titles for McLaren, the story goes, he keeps the last car. In 2008, one model sold for a record $4.1 million dollars – placing the McLaren F1 on the list of the world’s most expensive cars.