Of the 106 McLaren F1s ever made, only six have been destroyed so far, to the best of our knowledge. McLaren Special Operations boss Paul Mackenzie told me how they intend to keep it that way.
The first prototype burned to the ground in the Namibian desert while XP2 was used for crash tests. According to our resident F1 expert, the four lost customer cars were damaged "beyond repair" when the values were at or below the original MSRP, which was £650,000. Today, F1s sell for $12+ million.
The first time I talked to McLaren's Paul MacKenzie, he was at the Geneva Motor Show as the leader of the P1 development program. Last week, I sat down with him to talk about how MSO keeps McLaren's fastest alive. By looking for stuff on eBay, for example.
McLaren Special Operations is busier than ever. Most P1s were customized by their buyers, and 650S owners are also willing to spend more in return for something tailored to their taste. Since the X-1 was launched, it's clear that their engineering department is big enough to make almost anything happen, but another important part of their business is maintenance.
When somebody wants a new color on their P1, the car has to be shipped back to Woking and stripped back to the bare chassis. That has happened already, but the Texan car crashed on day one also went straight back to MSO.
Repairing P1s is almost easy at this point. The car is so fresh that they have all the parts right at hand to bring them back in after an accident. Doing the same with the now 23-years-old F1s is a bit more challenging.
See those headlight covers? Well, they don't have any more of those. The side windows also ran out of stock, so for these parts, they had to remake the tooling. Even with the blueprints on the shelf, that's one expensive hobby to have, but $1.4 million repair bills keep the business more than viable.
Ending up with a cracked carbon tub like Mr. Atkinson is no problem either. Paul told me they just knock on the material like wheeltappers at a railway station, listen to the sounds, cut out the ill part and glue in a new one. The chassis remains just as rigid as before.
Chassis number 072 that got flipped badly last summer in Italy is currently undergoing such a full restoration. They hit a tree, crashed the roof and one side of the car completely, but MSO will take car of that. So, where is the point of no return now?
For starters, I wouldn't recommend driving your F1 into a lake of acid.
That's because while engines can be rebuilt, glass can be recut and interiors can be re-trimmed, MSO's next big challenge is fixing the F1's electronics. While the F1 doesn't use as many computers as a Toyota Camry nowadays, those few chips are already almost impossible to get.
The good news is that since McLaren developed its own software back in the day, the coding part is covered. For housings and other hardware though, they even have browse through Ebay. You know, "for those big laptopy things".
You don't want to think into how hard will it be to fix a P1 in 23 years...
Photo credit: Máté Petrány/Jalopnik, Creatini via Facebook.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.