Tension was thick in the air as the 1994 McLaren F1 rolled onto the auction block in Monterey on Friday. Bidders and spectators alike wondered if the car would fetch the $21 million to $23 million that auction house RM Sotheby’s estimated for the rare three-seater supercar. In the end, the hammer fell at $19.8 million including commission, which is still enough to set a new world record for most valuable McLaren F1 sold at auction.
The McLaren F1 in question is one of just 64 road-going versions of the model made (the remainder of the 106 produced were prototypes or race cars) and also one of just two to be converted to Le Mans (LM) spec by McLaren Special Operations. The car retained its fully trimmed interior despite the performance increases and is also fitted with the Extra High Downforce kit, uprated air conditioning, race-spec suspension, 18-inch GTR wheels, two extra radiators, and a transmission cooler, among other upgrades. RM Sotheby’s sold the other LM-uprated McLaren F1 in a private sale at an undisclosed price earlier this year.
Repainted in 2001 in Platinum Silver Metallic (originally delivered with Midnight Blue Pearl paint), the four-owner F1 has covered over 13,000 miles and is said to have been kept well serviced, with replacement fuel bladders among the routine items replaced. It has also completed three McLaren F1 Owner’s Club tours in Europe.
Previously, the most expensive McLaren F1 to sell at auction brought in $15.62 million at Bonhams’ 2017 Quail Lodge auction. The McLaren sale in Monterey with RM Sotheby’s this month makes it not just the most valuable F1 ever sold at auction, but also the most valuable car sold at auction this year. It eclipsed the 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta that sold at Artcurial’s Retromobile auction in Paris, France, for $18,997,883.