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First road-legal McLaren F1 GTR Longtail on sale

One of ten now in the classifieds - just as Cosworth starts testing the GMA V12. It's Gordon Murray appreciation day!

By Sam Sheehan / Monday, March 23, 2020

The McLaren F1 set the bar so bloody high that even today, when the performances of other nineties supercars have been surpassed by super hatches, the record-breaking 627hp V12 holds its own. By 2020 measures, it very much remains a supercar. Barely a decade has passed since we still routinely compared the fastest new things to McLaren's 240mph machine; even now its top speed leaves most hypercars trumped, the racing pedigree that pumps through its veins is the envy of even more modern alternatives.

The GTR Longtail takes the F1 form to its extreme. It comes from that magical era of GT1 sports car racing - which you'll remember wasn't without its controversies - driven largely by enormous, unsustainable budgets. But good lord the cars looked spectacular, and fans adored them. So much so that the upcoming Le Mans Hypercar class is attempting to recreate the spirit of GT1. But we strongly doubt the current crop will be able to match the GTR Longtail for cool. It's surely one of the very greatest.

Here was a time when McLaren wanted to hone the already slender form of Gordon Murray's Le Mans-winning, BMW V12-powered rocket ship to make it even faster. It desperately needed to, of course, with the purpose-built Porsche 911 GT1, Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR and Lotus Elise GT1 all arriving in 1996 as new rivals. So engineers drastically altered the GTR's body, with a larger front section and extended rear deck, clearing space for a larger diffuser and wider wing. In a straight line, nothing was faster down the Mulsanne Straight.

More Le Mans success didn't follow, but several of the 10 F1 GTR Longtails did go on to achieve plenty of great things elsewhere, including a win at the coveted Suzuka 1,000km. With so few examples having ever been made, the Longtail remains the rarest original version of McLaren's F1 supercar, so it's unlikely to see one pop up for sale. Rarer still is to see the very first example, chassis 19R, change hands, but that's exactly what's about to happen. The car's even now road legal thanks to a conversion from Lanzante.

The first GTR Longtail has arguably seen the most action in recent years, following its debut at the 1996 Suzuka 1,000km where it ran with the much-loved Lark Livery. It's the first of only two prototype Longtails, the other being owned by Nick Mason, and has seen routine attendance at events including the Goodwood Festival of Speed - unlike most of the other nine Longtails, which live in collections. That, of course, means it's a turnkey example with spares and kit to keep it running.

Having been converted to road legality, you can quite literally drive it away. Although it's probably best to make sure you've pockets deep enough for an asking price of the eight-figure variety. If that proves too expensive, perhaps Murray's new V12 T.50 supercar will suffice...


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