It’s hard not to get all giddy at the mere sight of this, isn’t it? What you’re looking at is as close to a ‘new’ McLaren F1 GTR Longtail as it’s possible to get, and it’s every bit as lovely as you’d expect.
The first car to emerge from McLaren Special Operation’s new ‘F1 certified’ programme - which “aims to safeguard originality of iconic car for future generations” - it’s been meticulously rebuilt and restored by Woking’s finest.
Throughout the process, McLaren used new, old-stock parts - including fresh body panels - stored in containers that hadn’t been opened for 20 years. To ensure maximum authenticity, all of the bits and pieces used in the rebuild were from before June 1997. So, that means it’s in 1997 24 Hours of Le Mans-spec, tall gearing and blue ‘roof identification lights’ included.
This particular GTR is sometimes known as ‘25R’, a machine originally built for the Gulf-Davidoff team. Its 1997 Le Mans outing didn’t go all that well, with the car retiring at the 22-hour mark due to a fire caused by an oil leak.
It was repaired by McLaren and went on to enjoy a long racing career in Japan, before being retired in 2005. 25R was the last ever GTR to compete in a non-historic race, with its final outing at Fuji Speedway.
The next 11 years were less exciting for 25R, with the veteran racing car remaining in the country, where it was put on display as part of a collection. It was sold in 2016 and transported back to its home country, at which point the GTR was handed over to MSO to be transformed into the car it was when it first left the factory. At the time it was “battle-scarred from years of racing,” McLaren says, requiring “extensive remedial work,” hence why the decision to put it through such an extensive rebuild was taken.
The reborn car will be on display at the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace this weekend. It’s a rather upscale affair, but even so, we’re expecting involuntary dribbling to occur…