For millions of gearheads who came of age in the ’90s, the McLaren F1 was more than just a car, it was mythical. It stunned the automotive world when it burst on the scene in 1992 and was unlike anything that came before it. For this writer, and for countless other American kids raised in a sea of Ford Tauruses and Dodge Caravans, it was pure science fiction. Everything about it was hyperbole, and what we knew about it seemed almost too good to be true. It sat three, with the driver in the middle, it cost over $1 million, its engine compartment was lined with gold for better heat dissipation, and with its BMW-built V12, it could top 230 miles per hour.
The dream car to end all dream cars
The ’90s were the final golden years of the poster car era. On top of the hand-me-down bedroom staples like the Lamborghini Countach, Ferrari F40, and Porsche 959, we had the Corvette ZR-1, Dodge Viper, and the Lamborghini Diablo to marvel at. But none of us kids had ever heard of McLaren before, and it seemed like it was in a class by itself — in most ways, it was. The F1 was nothing like the Countach or the Viper; cars that looked good on the wall, but left something to be desired on the road. The F1 was a true technological marvel, and over 25 years later, we’re still reckoning with how truly great it was.