1995 McLaren F1 – The Most Expensive McLaren Ever Sold at Public Auction

A 1995 McLaren F1 sold for $20,465,000 at the Gooding Pebble Beach 2021 sale as the most expensive McLaren car ever sold in a public auction.

A 1995 McLaren F1 sold for $20,465,000 at the Gooding Pebble Beach 2021 sale as the most expensive McLaren car ever sold in a public auction.
1995 McLaren F1. — © Gooding

A low-mileage 1995 McLaren F1 in metallic increased the McLaren marque record when it sold for $20,465,000 as the most expensive McLaren ever sold at public auction and the top result in the Gooding Pebble Beach 2021 classic car auction and the most valuable car sold in the Monterey Car Week 2021 sales. It became the 13th car and the first McLaren to sell for more than $20 million in a public auction.

The Most Expensive 1995 McLaren F1 Ever

1995 McLaren F1 -- Most expensive McLaren ever sold in a public auction
© McLaren Media

A rare 1995 McLaren F1 with only 390 km (242 miles) on the clock increased the marque record to $20,465,000 at the Gooding Pebble Beach 2021 classic car auction on the Monterey Peninsula in California, USA. It became the 13th most expensive car ever sold at public auction and only the 13th car to achieve over $20 million. The presale estimate was “in excess of $15 million”.

The record McLaren is one of only 106 F1s produced, of which only 68 are road-going vehicles. It was the only one finished in metallic brown.

This F1, chassis 029, has rarely been seen in public. This remarkable McLaren spent most of its existence hidden away in a private Japanese collection. While in Japan, it was carefully maintained and seldom driven, contributing to its exceptional present condition.

The US-based vendor continued to preserve the car in the same as-delivered state. It has covered less than 390 kilometers from new making the car the lowest-mile F1 ever presented at auction. The F1 remains in pristine, original condition, down to its date-coded Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, ranking it among the finest and best-preserved examples extant.

According to factory records, chassis 029 was the 25th road car built and is the only F1 delivered in Creighton Brown, a special color named after the executive who was instrumental in establishing the McLaren Cars company. This distinctive livery is perfectly complemented by Light Tan and Dark Brown leather upholstery inside the three-seater cockpit.

A true time capsule, chassis 029 was sold with important accessories including the McLaren service book, owner’s manual, FACOM tool chest, titanium tool kit, fitted luggage, TAG Heuer watch, and the official Driving Ambition book.

McLaren F1 — Development and Racing Success

open doors 1995 McLaren F1 -- Most expensive McLaren ever sold in a public auction
© McLaren Media

The brainchild of celebrated designer Gordon Murray, the McLaren F1 was envisioned as the ultimate road car – a true Formula 1 car for the road. The F1 project began in 1988, when Ron Dennis, Mansour Ojjeh, and Creighton Brown, the heads of McLaren’s dominant Formula 1 team, decided to put Murray’s unique three-seat, center-drive sports car concept into production.

When it was first unveiled in 1992, the F1 was immediately hailed as a mechanical masterpiece. The McLaren supercar was not only novel in its concept, but each F1 was hand-built to exacting standards, utilizing the finest state-of-the-art materials, including carbon fiber, Kevlar, titanium, and even gold. True to Murray’s uncompromising design ethos, the F1 featured elegant bodywork penned by the great Peter Stevens using Grand Prix technology, including ground effects, to generate downforce. Its naturally aspirated BMW Motorsport six-liter V-12 engine was a magnificent design that developed over 100 hp-per-liter and produced an intoxicating howl as it revved to its 7,500 rpm redline. The F1 also featured a revolutionary carbon fiber monocoque chassis, a six-speed manual transaxle, unassisted Brembo brakes, and bespoke high-speed tires. Although intended as a pure driver’s car, the F1 was designed for comfortable road use and is equipped with a clever air-conditioning system as well as a lightweight audio system specially designed by Kenwood. 

Between 1992 and 1998, McLaren built just 106 examples of the McLaren F1. A testament to the quality of its design and engineering, the F1 remains the fastest naturally aspirated production car, with a top speed of 240 mph. Though it was not designed as a racing car, the competition-specification F1 GTR dominated motor racing during the 1990s. In 1995, the original GTRs – a mildly modified version of the road-going F1 – placed 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 13th at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With the F1 GTR, McLaren went on to capture the BPR Global GT Series Championship in 1995 and 1996. As the most expensive production car when new, the McLaren F1 is now among the most desirable of all collector cars.

McLaren F1 Prices at Public Auction

1994 McLaren F1 'LM-Specification' Above Open Doors
Andrei Diomidov © 2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

McLaren F1s are rare and highly desirable cars that rarely make it to auction. Only a handful has sold at public auction in the past five years. Several have sold privately, including Rowan Atkinson’s (Mr Bean) twice-crashed F1 with almost 70,000 km on the clock for a claimed $12.5 million.

SOLD 1998 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification
1998 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’ © Daren Schnabel / RM Sotheby’s

The previous marque auction record of $19,805,000 was achieved by the 1994 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’, serial no. 018, at RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2019 sale. This McLaren was one of two that was upgraded by the factory to Le Mans specification.

The sister car in LM-Specification, the 1998 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’, serial no. 073, sold for $13,750,000 at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2015 sale to raise the marque record by more than $5 million.

1995 McLaren F1 Silver
© Bonhams

The previous highest price for a standard F1 was $15,620,000 achieved at the Bonhams Quail Lodge 2017 sale for the 1995 McLaren F1, number 044. This car was the very first McLaren F1 imported into the US and the very first of only a handful of F1s to become fully federalized as a US road-legal car.  Given that these cars are now older than 25 years, such registration is now somewhat less valuable than before.

The last two McLaren F1 sold by Gooding were at Scottsdale 2014 ($5,280,000) and Pebble Beach 2013 ($8,470,000).