Living with supercars such as the McLaren F1

Living with supercars such as the McLaren F1

Living with supercars such as the McLaren F1 need not be as expensive as people make it out to be. I’m constantly amazed at the huge bills a lot of people seem to rack up, some justified, some not. I recently watched a video on YouTube of a man who had bought an F1 a while back. He seemed like a nice enough fellow, but his problem, at least in my opinion, stemmed more from his lack ofknowledge than from the car itself.

He said it was designed as a racing car and it had been modified for the street but in reality nothing could have been further from the truth. Gordon Murray has consistently stated that the F1 was always designed to be a street car. the owner also stated in the video that the car was made of glassfibre; imagine Gordon pulling his hair out at that one.

Look, the McLaren F1 is an expensive piece of equipment but nowhere near what this man was quoting. If you were to crash it, yes, the repair would be eye-watering, because with only 64 road cars being built, each replacement part has to be remanufactured and there just aren’t a lot of spares around.

So, it’s crazy, but not that crazy. For example, he says that the clutch needs to be replaced every two or three years, whether you use the car or not. Why? How does a clutch that’s not being used wear out? My F1 is on its second clutch in 21 years of ownership and that car has about 12,000 miles on it.

He also suggested that tyre replacement was around $50,000. that was not my experience. I checked the proper tyres for the F1 and ordered directly from Michelin; the total cost of the tyres was less than $2000 and I mounted them myself in my garage… and balanced them.


The F1 may be exotic but it’s still a car, and I would argue that its analogue nature, in many ways, makes it easier to deal with. In fact, at one point of its life, a shifter fork broke and we took it out and repaired it. Try doing that with a modern hybrid hypercar.

Battery replacement is easier than on a lot of everyday hatchbacks. I took the battery out, went down to my local battery replacement guy, he measured it and gave me a sealed gel cell that worked perfectly well. I’ve replaced headlamps, as well as other regular maintenance items, and enjoyed every minute of it.

What makes it even cooler is that I’m using the original Facom tool-set that came with the McLaren. We’ve even had the engine out about three times to replace the fuel cells, as well as to fix the VANOS unit, all under the watchful eye of Pani, McLaren’s globetrotting F1 master mechanic. OK, that part was not cheap, but certainly a lot less that what the YouTube guy paid for tyres.

I don’t track my F1 but I drive it a lot, and although I don’t beat on it I certainly don’t baby it either. Let’s face it, if a ’shop sees you coming, they’re probably going to take advantage of you. I have a friend who paid something like $200 to have nitrogen put in his tyres. First of all, if you just have air in your tyres they’re already 78% nitrogen. I use nitrogen in all my tyres but (and I know I’m one of few people in this respect) that’s only because I happen to have a nitrogen generator at the garage.

Of course, nitrogen will always have its use in Formula 1 and the like, because it’s far more stable than air as tyre temperatures change, and racers need stable pressures. My solution is to suggest that you get a really accurate tyre pressure gauge and check the tyres each time you take out your car for any kind of high- performance run or journey.

here’s an exotic car shop here in LA that advertises a 29-point inspection for your exotic car. 28 of those you could do yourself, they check the wiper fluid. Really? How hard is that? Battery inspection. I asked the guy, do you put a meter on it and check the voltage? He said, no we just check the battery. For what? To see if it’s still there? they check the oil. Well, most supercars these days do this electronically from the driver’s seat but you’d be surprised how many people I meet at cars-and-coffee events don’t know this.

One guy I met proudly showed me his owner’s manual, still in the original wrapper with the unopened seal intact. He said he was saving it to impress the next owner with how original his car was. First of all, if my car has a next owner I will have been dead already for quite a while. And second, I hope the next owner of my McLaren F1 is impressed with my owner’s manual, because my greasy handprints are on every page, and any good fingerprint expert will be able to prove that it was mine

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