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25 Years On, Gordon Murray Remembers The McLaren F1

Would you believe that a quarter of a century later, the McLaren F1 is still the fastest naturally aspirated road car in the world? It is, and provided the rev limiter is disconnected from the BMW S70/2 V12 engine, the three-seat supercar can go up to 231 miles per hour (372 km/h). Curiously enough, when Gordon Murray set to create the F1, he didn’t set a target top speed.
Gordon Murray Talks About The McLaren F1 38 photos
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In a four-minute video uploaded by the Woking-based automaker on YouTube, the man responsible for many Brabham and a handful of McLaren Formula 1 cars takes the time to recall the vision behind the company’s magnum opus. “It was purely Formula 1 technology applied to a road car,” Murray says, and he’s right. The most obvious case in point is the driving position.

The driver sits centrally for a couple of reasons, chief among which is pedal positioning. With no potential offset, the driver feels more in control of his footwork when driving hard. Then there’s inertia, with the central position offering more input as the vehicle rotates around its axis. Think about driving a go-kart. The control is superlative, even on the raggedy edge of grip.

Beyond the unconventional yet uncannily natural driving position, the McLaren F1 is the first road-legal car with ground effects. Active aero is another big part of the F1 experience, thanks to the likes of rear wings that pop up to provide more downforce. Active brake cooling ducts are also on the menu, as is a small frontal area and a very low drag coefficient (0.32).

The huge intake integrated into the roof? Yeah, that’s there to provide the V12 with ram air effect. Murray says that taking the air filter off reveals the inlet valves; that’s how direct the passage from the intake to the engine is.

On a slight tangent to the subject, somebody paid $15.6 million for an F1 at a recent auction, a car that can be admired in this story's photo gallery.

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