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Auction Block: 1998 McLaren F1 One-Off

Photo: Patrick Ernzen ©2022 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

By 1992, McLaren had earned a reputation in the racing world for its immense speed and performance. However, the British marque had yet to produce a road-ready vehicle. The F1 entered production that year, and until 1998, 106 examples were made in total. Lightning quick, the model also hit 240.1mph, setting a Guinness World Record for the fastest production car, which stood unbeaten for over a decade. The bodywork is equally as beautiful, featuring butterfly doors and a kinetic frame that gives the impression that it’s always in motion, even when sitting still. For most car lovers, the McLaren F1 isn’t just another historical curiosity, but the most phenomenal automobile ever built.

Of the 106 F1 cars ever produced, only 64 were made for the road, while others were either prototypes or used for racing. Of those 64, only one — yes, one — ever featured a unique headlight setup. You see, as spectacular as the F1 is for those looking at it from afar (or, heck, up close), those lucky enough to drive one of these cars noticed that they have one minor weakness: Their stock headlights are rather dim when driving at night. And so, to test out a solution to this issue, McLaren made one version that swapped the internal lights for those from a BMW Z1 Roadster, which also forced the factory to make the headlight housings slightly shorter.

This one-off McLaren F1, chassis number 059, is up for sale this month from RM Sotheby’s. Since it was first acquired in 1998, it’s had only two owners and reads only 16,400mi on the odometer. Everything else on the coupe is factory-correct, including the 6.1L V12 BMW S70/2 engine, silver coated carbon fiber body panels, and a center-placed driver’s seat.

There is no estimate given on this 1998 McLaren F1 one-off, but the car sold brand-new back in 1998 for over $1 million, making it the most expensive production car ever sold off the lot. Recent auction and private sale examples have hit well over $2 million, with LM-spec examples hitting upwards of $13 million. Bidding for chassis 059 commences on August 18 via RM Sotheby’s.

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Photo: Patrick Ernzen ©2022 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Photo: Patrick Ernzen ©2022 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Photo: Patrick Ernzen ©2022 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s