It's almost a defining characteristic of supercars to be ephemeral. When it first appeared, the Ferarri F40 was so ludicrously extreme that it scarcely seemed possible—478 hp! Who could believe that? Then, all of a sudden, 25 years have passed and a $30,000 Mustang GT can make 420 hp.
The McLaren F1 is only five years younger than the F40 and, by all rights, should have suffered the same fate; yet, somehow, it hasn't. Maybe it's that a 627-hp V12 is still hairy in anyone's book, especially in a 2425-pound car. Or that 3.4 seconds to 60 mph is still supercar territory, as is a quarter-mile time that's deep into the 11s. And yet, it's totally civilized when you want it to be: As Steve Millen told us in an interview a while back, "It's surprising that you can call this a road car because it's really a race car. I never thought I would drive a street vehicle so technically sophisticated. I love the smooth and broad powerband. This is the ultimate road car."
Gooding's consignment is the 54th civilian car built and was legally imported into the U.S., which takes care of one enormous heap of trouble. And unlike, say, , it's never been damaged. The two owners of this one have had it serviced only by the factory, as all McLarens are supposed to be.
It's a testament less to their expense than to their excellence that they don't sell often, because those few fortunate enough to own one tend to hold onto them. As Atkinson said, "It's not just the quality of construction but quality of thinking that owners admire. My advice is unequivocal: If you have the money, buy one." This week, someone will.