When F1 chassis 073 was sold for $13.8 million at last year's Pebble Beach auctions, a lucky person got as close to buying a McLaren F1 LM as possible without having to convince somebody to put up one of the six real ones for sale. Not only did 073 come with the High Downforce Kit already fitted, but it's also one of only two additional road cars that have the LM's engine, which produces 680 horsepower in this unrestricted form thanks to having different cams and pistons, optimized air intakes, larger radiators and a sports exhaust.
The story goes that after Le Mans, Gordon Murray decided to build just five customer LMs because McLaren simply wasn't sure how many they could sell given the premium and the state of the economy at the time. So, since five GTRs finished the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it made sense to produce one for each.
While the 95 GTRs were basically road cars made race legal, the LMs were done the other way around, resulting in significant weight savings, various aerodynamic modifications, and an upgraded engine and gearbox setup. Because of the additional drag created by their massive fixed carbon wings, they didn't have a higher top speed than regular F1s, but with a weight of 2341 pounds and 680 horses, they got there much quicker, and also cornered like a dream.
he quite liked the idea of offering the car in one color only, but it's widely known that since the Sultan of Brunei ordered three of the five on the spot, the Papaya Orange rule got broken in no time.
After hiding his two grey (and one orange) LMs where nobody could see them, the Sultan went even further, buying a 1995 GTR just so that he could turn the never raced 09R chassis into an exact replica of 01R.
As for the remaining 2+1 LMs, the prototype, XP1 LM was retained by McLaren, while the other two are now in America, with LM3 famously being one of the crown jewels of Ralph Lauren's collection, parked next to his two silver F1s with their pillar-mounted mirrors.
Since McLaren only built 5+1 of the LMs, there were many people that wanted an LM that just couldn't get one. That's when McLaren decided to offer a High Downforce Kit that nearly replicated the LM's aero kit along with the option to tune the engine to LM levels.
Throughout the years, many F1 owners opted for these upgrades, but while the fixed wing and the front splitter can be misleading, the lack of LM side skirts should give the HDF cars away soon enough. The cars that have been fitted with the optional extras are often called LMs, but in reality they are LM-esque. They're just 'regular' McLaren F1s with some extra aero and power. Lame. . .
Of course, I know this matters less once we take the now road legal '95 and '96 GTRs into consideration as well, but one thing is for sure:
If you happen to own a stock McLaren F1 and want to aim for its highest downforce evolution, try to save time with their CLK-GTR development. That had more downforce, no doubt.