A lower, stiffer, track-oriented version of the revolutionary F1 road car, the F1 LM was built to celebrate McLaren’s astonishing debut victory at Le Mans. Appearing at Le Mans with seven F1 GTRs in six privateer teams, F1 GTRs stormed to an impressive victory, finishing in 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 13th places. The winning No. 59 Kokusai Kaihatsu McLaren, driven by Yannick Dalmas, Masanori Sekiya and JJ Lehto, finished one lap ahead of its closest rival, simultaneously becoming the first team and first car to win on debut at Le Mans. In addition, Lehto and Sekiya's involvement meant it was the first Le Mans win for a Finnish driver and a Japanese driver in the historic 24-hour race.
As a tribute to this immediate success, McLaren decided to build just five cars for sale, signifying the five racers that reached the end, and keeping the prototype. The cars were originally planned to be painted bright Papaya orange schemes as a homage to founder Bruce McLaren but only four were as the other two were customised for the Sultan of Brunei. It was reported that the prototype was promised by McLaren CEO Ron Dennis to his driver Lewis Hamilton should win two FIA Formula One World Championship® titles at McLaren. This car is still in possession of McLaren.
The F1 LM variants were 60kg lighter and more track-focused than the standard F1 and more powerful than the F1 GTR track cars, which were restricted at Le Mans as part of the regulations. It could reach 60mph (97km/h) in 3.9 seconds (which would have been quicker but for wheelspin) and 100mph (161km/h) in 6.7 seconds, going on to a top speed of 225mph (362km/h). It was once the holder of many world records, including the 0-100-0mph record that it completed in a mesmerising 11.5 seconds. As McLaren itself stated, the F1 LM was “an untamed Le Mans race car with number plates”.
Then Technical Director of McLaren Cars, Gordon Murray, remembers, ‘After Le Mans, and the win, and after the euphoria had died down, I started thinking we should do something to celebrate….And as the road car had gone to Le Mans and won, what about making a road version with the kit from Le Mans? We’ve got the kit, made the wing, made the bodywork, got the engine that revs higher, so why not put it into a limited edition?’
To create the McLaren F1 LM, we were kindly allowed to use our supremely accurate digital scanning technology on the edition LM3 by current owner Ralph Lauren, allowing us to perfectly recreate every detail at scale. This fine scale model has been handcrafted and finished in our workshops with the co-operation and assistance of the manufacturer regarding original finishes, materials, archive imagery and drawings. Furthermore, the prototype model has undergone detailed scrutiny by the manufacturer’s engineering and design teams to ensure complete accuracy of representation.