While Gordan Murray prepares his hoping-to-be-revolutionary T.25 City Car, we thought it fitting to take an in-depth look at the development of his previous revolution — the awe-inspiring McLaren F1 supercar.
The McLaren F1 is considered one of the greatest (if not, the greatest) supercars of all time. It's quirky, driver-focused and fast. With a top speed of 242 mph, central driving position and complete carbon fiber reinforced plastic monocoque chassis structure set it apart from all other production road cars when it was released in 1992 and stills manages to stand tall in the crowd of almost cookie-cutter supercars today.
Its stunning BMW-sourced 6.1-liter 60-degree V12 featured an aluminum block and heads with an 86mm x 87mm bore/stroke, quad-overhead camshafts controlling four valves per-cylinder and a dry sump oil system. The bespoke engine was officially designated the BMW S70/2 and weighed in at 586 lbs while producing 627 horsepower at 7400 rpm and 480 lb-ft of torque at 5600 rpm. This same engine was used to power the BMW V12 LMR prototypes from 1998 to 2000.
A little known fact from the developmental story was that the famous BMW V12 may not have actually powered the McLaren F1, instead Murray looked to both Honda and then Isuzu to power his new supercar.
"During this time, we were able to visit with Ayrton Senna (the late F1 Champion) and Honda's Tochigi Research Center. The visit related to the fact that at the time, McLaren's F1 Grand Prix cars were using Honda engines. Although it's true I had thought it would have been better to put a larger engine, the moment I drove the Honda NSX, all the benchmark cars-Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini-I had been using as references in the development of my car vanished from my mind. Of course the car we would create, the McLaren F1, needed to be faster than the NSX, but the NSX's ride quality and handling would become our new design target. Being a fan of Honda engines, I later went to Honda's Tochigi Research Center on two occasions and requested that they consider building for the McLaren F1 a 4.5 liter V10 or V12. I asked, I tried to persuade them, but in the end could not convince them to do it, and the McLaren F1 ended up equipped with a BMW engine."
What better way to celebrate Gordon Murray's new venture than with a little history of one of his greatest achievements of his career. Enjoy!