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McLaren F1 price: what they're worth now

This 1995 McLaren F1 sold for US$20.46m at auction, marking a new record price.

Paying $1 million for a supercar and then not driving it for 26 years may seem like a bad idea - until you sell that same car in 2021 for $27.8 million.

That’s what happened to an unnamed Japanese car enthusiast who just set the record for a McLaren sold at auction. 

The car in question obviously isn’t just any old supercar, it’s an extremely low kilometre example of the McLaren F1, a car considered by many amongst the greatest ever made.

It’s certainly amongst the fastest, with a top speed of 389km/h when it was launched in 1992, thanks to its 467kW 6.1-litre BMW V12 engine. 

It’s three-seat layout, with a central driver’s seat, only added to its reputation as an uncompromised driving machine. As did its win in the 1995 Le Mans 24-hours after some owners decided to take it racing.

With a reputation like that it’s little wonder the F1 has become such an in-demand classic, regularly fetching huge dollars at auction. It helps that the F1 is incredibly rare, McLaren only built 106 examples, and only 64 of those were road cars. 

Ironically the British car maker famous for motor racing didn’t make it so exclusive on purpose, it was a lack of demand that meant so few were built.

That rarity has driven the market up substantially with even the 2020 global pandemic having no impact on their value. 

When we last reported on the prices of McLaren F1 in early 2019 the record for an auction price sat at US$15.6m for a 2017 sale of chassis #044. 

By the end of 2019 that figure had leapt to US$19.8m, when an investor bought a special F1 that had been converted to ‘LM’ (Le Mans) specification by New Zealand entrepreneur and part-time Australian touring car racer, Andrew Bagnell.

Now the record for an auction price has been raised again with the sale of chassis #029 for US$20.46m ($27.8m) at the recent Gooding & Company auction at the Pebble Beach car week celebrations. 

This particular F1 was in particularly good condition, with the owner clearly thinking of the future when he bought it because it has only been driven less than 390km since new. It also came with all of its original accessories, including specially-designed luggage, a TAG Heuer watch and a tool chest.

There is another factor in the value of McLaren F1 - celebrities.

Some of the world’s most famous rev-heads have been F1 owners, including Black Adder and Mr Bean star, Rowan Atkinson. Despite crashing his purple F1 twice during his ownership, Atkinson managed to sell it in 2015 for US$12.2m; a healthy profit given he bought his new for around $1m.

As for the previously mentioned chassis #044, which sold for US$15.6m back in 2017, the winning bidder was reportedly seven-time Formula One champion, Sir Lewis Hamilton. 

As a kid growing up as a fan of the McLaren race team, Hamilton reportedly always dreamed of owning an F1 road car, and if the rumours are true he got his wish - for a price.

There’s reportedly only a single McLaren F1 in Australia - chassis #009 - which has been through several pairs of hands since it was first imported in the mid ‘90s. 

It was infamously damaged in a crash in 2016, during a McLaren organised drive through New Zealand - the homeland of the company’s original founder, Bruce McLaren. 

The good news for the owner is there’s no such thing as a McLaren F1 write-off, because the company is able to repair anything as the value of a functional car effectively outweighs any potential insurance pay-out.

But, as the recent record sale of chassis #029 shows, perhaps leaving it in the garage is the best thing you can do for its value.