- If high-school reunions were half as fun we'd go every year.
This past May, a handful of McLaren F1's
secretly gathered in northern Italy to commemorate the fabled supercar
's 20th anniversary. Nineteen of the legendary Formula 1 constructor's first production cars were flown in from as far as Australia, New Zealand and Montana. The meeting was the largest reunion in the iconic hyper-car's history. The event, organized by the McLaren Owners Club, brought together an esitmated $45 million worth of gleaming carbon fiber together on the shores of Lake Garda in Northern Italy.
The McLaren F1
is undoubtedly one of the rarest cars ever made, yet it's instantly recognizable by anyone who's flipped through a car magazine in the last two decades. Only 108 were ever produced from 1992-1998. At a cost of nearly $1 million, it attracted a very special kind of buyer. Owners include Ralph Lauren (who owns three), Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), Jay Leno, Wyclef Jean and the Sultan of Brunei, who owns a grand total of eight. Though the event organizers tried to keep the meeting a secret, there's no easy way to hide 19 McLaren F1's and their respective posses of Audi R8
's and Noble M600
- The Harrods McLaren F1 GTR with Nick Mason's GTR in tow
The event, which took place in the Dolomite foothills, commemorated the launch of the McLaren F1
, 20 years ago, at the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix
. Though rumors surrounding the event suggested it's organization was to preview the eagerly anticipated follow up to the McLaren F1, the event was hosted by the McLaren Owners Club and had no official association to the car manufacturer itself. However, the boys from Woking
were nice enough to provide a handful of MP4-12c's
from their press/marketing fleet to F1 owners who couldn't bring their own cars to the epic drive.
The first production McLaren F1 (chassis #001) arriving by truck.
Getting nearly a quarter of all the McLaren's F1's in the world together was a challenge that required lots of logistical planning, and commitment. The McLaren F1's that made the pilgrimage were esepcially rare, and represented the owners who were most devoted to their cars. It was a once in a lifetime experience for both the owners, McLaren
support staff and local residents along the 458 kilometers of Northern Italian countryside. The tour began on the scenic shores of Lake Garda
, continued through the Valpolicella wine region, and then north to the Dolomites on the Swiss border. There, the McLarens were able to unleash their 618 hp on the beautiful Sella Runde.
The Sella Runde, when not being over run by supercars, is a ski route that twists and turns for 40 kilometers around one of Europe's most iconic massifs. After the snow has melted, the Sella Runde becomes a top destination for cyclists and drivers from all over Europe. Being able to unleash the BMW sourced V12 against the backdrop of the Alps must have been a joy for all in attendance. For local car fans, being able to hear 19 McLaren F1's racing from corner to corner was undoubtably a truly religious experience.
Pictured above is the very famous Harrods livery 1995 McLaren F1 GTR
#06R which was converted for street use after its retirement. It placed third in the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans with Andy Wallace, and the father and son duo of Derek and Justin Bell, at the wheel.
Among the rarest and most coveted McLaren F1
models are the experimental prototypes. Of the five road going cars originally produced, only three remain. Two of them, the XP3 and XP4, took part in this year's McLaren F1 tour. The XP3 (not pictured) is owned by the F1's chief designer Gordon Murray. Murray requested in his contract that he be given one of the prototype cars as part of his compensation package for completing the project. The XP4, which was used for stress testing the gearbox, traveled all the way from the UK to California where it is currently registered.
- California has to be car heaven.
We'd be lying if we said we didn't love the cobalt blue over tan interior of the XP4 , but maybe it's just the uniqueness of the this particular F1 that's clouding our judgement.
Photographer Simone Caldirola's favorite car was this McLaren F1 GTR #10R owned by Pink Floyd's Nick Mason. Probably more for the outrageous paint scheme than the story surrounding the car or the owner.
The McLaren F1 GTR
#10R was the first 1996-spec GTR built. It showed up at Le Mans in 1996 and turned a few laps in a pre-qualifying race, but that was it. In 1997, the FIA GT rules were changed and the #10R was converted to road use and sold to Nick Mason.
As quickly and as quietly as they arrived, these ultra-rare McLaren's were driven back onto their trailers, and prepped for the long journey home. It may be another 10 to 20 years before they reunite again in celebration of automotive excellence. We'll be waiting patiently.
We also stumbled on this video from the last day of the tour that includes a few delicious sound bites:
Many thanks to Simone Caldirola for providing us with outstanding photographs and exclusive coverage of the McLaren F1 tour.
See more of Simone's work here