Opinion: why the McLaren F1 still excites

Just how fast is a McLaren F1? In May 1994, an eager 14-year-old picked up a copy of Autocar that promised to reveal all. Inside, an in-depth road test – sorry, the only road test – of the F1 answered that question, and so much more. 

The mind-boggling performance statistics stole the headlines, but it was the detail that captured your attention. It left you in no doubt that the McLaren F1 wasn’t merely a car: it was an engineering milestone, a work of art (the review was very good, too). 

Twenty-five years later, a still-eager 39-year-old picked up a proof copy of the magazine version of an Autocar feature and quickly found himself lost in the majesty of the F1 – and Autocar’s incredibly talented writers – all over again. 

That the F1 still excites after 25 years is a tribute to its creators – and a reminder that the car industry must continue to build machines that inspire. The vast majority of people who read our F1 review will never have driven one, so having Autocar’s testers describe the experience helped them to understand the car’s true majesty, and inspire a love of the wider car industry.

It’s fitting that, as we mark 25 years of the McLaren F1, that it’s designer, Gordon Murray, recently revealed plans to build a ‘spiritual successor’. At the same time McLaren Automotive, the company that can trace its roots back to the F1, continues to produce an ever-widening range of hugely impressive machines. Aston Martin is further developing its brand with hyperscars such as the forthcoming Valkyrie. And that’s just in Britain: the likes of Ferrari and Lamborghini have long been masters in producing such machines.

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