ONE OWNER, 9,600 MILES, 22 YEARS. F1s have always generated incredible numbers, and #044 is certainly destined to do so when it is auctioned by Bonhams on August 18th.
The car was purchased new in 1996 by Herb Chambers, and is being consigned by Herb and his advisor Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars. This will certainly increase interest in the car, but whether it is with just viewers of Wayne’s show or actual potential buyers remains to be seen. What is certain though is that #044 is one of the most original and desirable street F1s to come to market, and represents a very rare opportunity to own an icon.
McLaren Cars Ltd was formed by the TAG/McLaren Group in March 1989. Its purpose-built production facility was adjacent to McLaren International’s Woking, England, headquarters, and composite chassis production was set up in nearby Shalford – its showroom situated in London’s fashionable Park Lane. The three-year program to develop the prototypes took its first serious steps forward in 1990, a “finished” prototype was shown in 1992, and the first customer delivery was in January 1994.
I lived in London at the time, and was one of the dreamers pressed up to the glass of the McLaren Park Lane showrooms to look at the car – a silver example just like #044. I also vividly remember seeing the dark green XP4 drive past me in Sloane Square, no doubt with a potential customer in the passenger seat.
In total, 64 road cars were delivered to customers before production ended. McLaren F1 chassis number 044 is the thirty-seventh F1 off the assembly line, sporting the iconic, original Base Silver paint and a black/gray Connolly leather interior, which includes McLaren’s signature red colored panels for the central driver’s seat. The car was purchased new by Herb in July 1996. He then took two of his closest companions (surely the three-seat F1 configuration is a playboy’s dream) on the ultimate road trip as they toured the European countryside. Beginning at the factory, the trio went to France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium, before returning to the Woking based factory. A 4,000 mile trip!
The car was then shipped to New York and was one of only seven F1s to be legalized for the US, although all of the smog equipment has now been removed and the car returned to full original condition. It has resided in the US for 22 years. Accompanying the sale of 044 is its complete tool kit, including the modem used to connect to the factory, full luggage set, special Limited Edition of Doug Nye’s opus, Driving Ambition: The Complete Story of the McLaren F1, the F1 AUTO GLYM detailing kit, complete tool roll, mechanics gloves, detailing cloth, car cover, watch, owners books and manuals, a wide assortment of factory documents and materials, and major, original, components that were removed from the car during services such as the fuel cell and tires.
While many of the road cars have been returned to the factory for new aerodynamic packages or custom interiors, 044 remains unmodified and aside from the parts replaced during its scheduled services, essentially remains as it was when it left the factory. Rarely does one of the legendary 64 road cars become available, once an owner experiences its unmatched levels of performance, virtually everything else feels slow and plodding in comparison.
Given that Rowen Atkinson’s F1, which had been heavily crashed and rebuilt, was sold by a specialist for a reported $12.2 million, we expect that this incredible original example could be worth north of $17 million. This would be an auction record for a McLaren, for a British road car, and second only to the Le Mans winning D-type for all-time most valuable British cars sold at auction.
Whatever the outcome on August 18th, it is likely that there will never again be an opportunity to purchase a single owner F1 with the incredible provenance and history of 044.
The McLaren F1 044 was auctioned by Bonhams at their Quail Lodge Auction on August 18th, achieving a World Record price of $15,620,000.