A 1995 McLaren F1 Just Set a $20.5 Million World Auction Record

Even today, there aren’t many cars that command the star power of a McLaren F1. The fastest naturally-aspirated car in the world still looms large even over more modern supercars. And it’s valuable enough that F1s basically can’t be totaled. The 1995 F1 that recently sold at auction, though, is expensive enough to set records.

This 1995 McLaren F1 is now the most expensive F1 sold at auction

The Creighton Brown 1995 McLaren F1 parked by some pine trees
Creighton Brown 1995 McLaren F1 | Gooding & Company

While it’s not the most expensive car ever sold at auction, the 1995 McLaren F1 that recently crossed Gooding & Company’s auction block is now a record-holder. No. 29 of the 64 road-going F1s built, it sold at this year’s Pebble Beach auction for $20,465,000.  Officially, that makes it the most expensive F1 ever sold at auction, Hagerty reports.

To put that number into context, the previous record-holder was the first McLaren F1 imported into the US. The 1996 car sold at a 2017 Bonhams auction for a ‘mere’ $15,966,000. Technically, Hagerty notes, that its record was beaten in 2019 by an LM-spec F1 that sold for $19,805,000. However, that was a road car converted into a commemoration of the track-spec F1 GTR. As such, this 1995 McLaren F1 is the most expensive original-spec F1 ever sold at auction.

Why did this 1995 McLaren F1 sell for $20,465,000?

Setting records is impressive, but what made someone pay almost $20.5 million for this 1995 McLaren F1? That price boils down to several factors.

Firstly, it’s a 1995 McLaren F1. As noted earlier, these are iconic supercars with technology that in the 1990s was considered space-age stuff. This is a car with a carbon-fiber chassis, gold-leaf-lined engine bay, a built-in modem, and an electrically powered plasma-sprayed resistive defroster film. And if you’re a US owner, there’s literally one mechanic certified to work on it.

Secondly, McLaren F1 prices as a whole have risen significantly over the last few years. Autoweek points out that a genuine F1 GTR Longtail sold at Gooding & Co.’s 2014 Monterey auction for ‘just’ $5.28 million. Original GTR Longtails are even rarer than ‘standard’ F1s, which shows how high the market has climbed.

Thirdly, this 1995 McLaren F1 is in pristine condition. It has its original tires, TAG Heuer watch, matched luggage set, and both a complete roadside tool kit and tool chest, Autoblog says. And it only has 242 miles on the clock. Though given what low mileage does to cars, the new owner may want to call the US mechanic.

Finally, this record-setting F1 is a 1-of-1-spec car. It’s the only F1 painted ‘Creighton Brown,’ a shade named after McLaren’s creative director at the time of development. And the brown theme continues inside with the two-tone tan-and-brown interior. So, even in the rarified world of F1s, this car is unique.

Was it worth it?

The tan-and-brown-leather interior of the Creighton Brown 1995 McLaren F1
Creighton Brown 1995 McLaren F1 interior | Gooding & Company

It’s difficult to assign ‘worth’ to a car that costs almost $20.5 million. That price puts this F1 above even the Bugatti Voiture Noire, the single most expensive brand-new car.

Looking at the F1 market, though, this seemingly exorbitant price isn’t that far-fetched. An excellent-condition 1995 F1 typically goes for $18.5 million, Hagerty reports. And a Concours-level, pristine one is valued at up to $21.5 million. So, in a way, this unique-spec car is arguably a slight bargain.

Let’s hope the new owner puts some miles on it, though. If only to hear that V12 engine sing.

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