This unique McLaren F1 borrowed more than a V-12 from BMW

RM Sotheby's

A one-off 1998 McLaren F1 with prototype, factory-upgraded headlamps is headed for sale at RM Sotheby’s during Monterey Car Week.

The story of the F1’s uncompromising development has been told time and again, with highlights including the custom-designed BMW V-12 in its gold-lined engine bay, the central driving position and, of course, its 240-mph top speed. However, one aspect that wasn’t quite so well considered was the car’s lighting system.

Despite its exotic styling, performance, and million-dollar price, the F1 was always designed to be a very usable car, and many owners soon began to pile on the miles, just as Gordon Murray intended. However, when driving at speed at night the original headlamps were found somewhat lacking. McLaren’s solution was to fit the lights from a BMW Z1 instead, and chassis #059 was the first car to have them. In fitting the new beams the headlight surrounds were made slightly shorter, distinguishing this example from the rest of the run of 64 F1 road cars.

BMW-sourced lighting aside, #059 was finished in Magnesium Silver with a black Alcantara interior and delivered to typewriter-cassette kingpin John Studholme from Lincolnshire, U.K. Studholme was a serious F1 aficionado, trading in chassis #017 for #059 and then later acquiring F1 GT4 14R. Seven months after taking delivery Studholme had #059 fitted with 18-inch OZ wheels and a High Downforce Kit. He put the car to great use, racking up 4676 miles by the time of its first service, and over 11,000 more during his ownership.

In 2012 the F1 was sold to its current keeper in the U.S.A. and has been hidden away in a private collection, covering less than 300 miles in a decade to bring the odometer reading to 16,400 miles. It was imported under the show or display exemption and can’t be road registered until 2023 when it hits 25 years of age.

With a current #1 (Concours) condition value of $22.6 million for an F1 road car, the chances of this one-off ever seeing the road again are sadly rather slim, but we can hope. The auction by sealed bid takes place between August 18–20.

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