McLaren Automotive is celebrating 20 years of the legendary McLaren F1 supercar. It is therefore quite fitting that the next chapter of this illustrious company starts writing itself in 2010 when its next supercar, the MP4-12C, is officially launched.

Back in March 1990 a team of engineers came together for the first time to execute its mandate, which was to produce the most innovative, technically advanced and revolutionary car ever built for the segment.

The result was a 4.2 metre long, 1.8m wide and 1.1m high three-seat sports car with scissor-style doors. Power came from a BMW-sourced naturally aspirated V12 pushing out 447 kW (600 bhp/ 608 PS) in the standard car.

A major innovation was the central driving position with two extra seats mounted behind it. McLaren had been the first Formula One team to use a carbon fibre chassis in 1981 and its experience with the material was manifested when the McLaren F1 employed a lightweight carbon monocoque structure. So light was the car that the two passenger doors weighed only 7 kg each.

A number of F1 variations were built over the course of its lifecycle, including a racing version called the F1 GTR which won the 1995 GT1 Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans on its debut. Another special version was the F1 LM of which only five were built as a celebration of the Le Mans win. The F1 LM remains the most powerful and valuable variant of the range.

The F1's launch price in 1994 was £540,000 but there was a good-as-new model sold at auction in October 2008 for £2.53 million.

Check out the press release below for more history and specifications of each variant.

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