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Sixteen years ago, one McLaren customer had the foresight to buy the McLaren F1 GTR that finished fifth at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995. It proved to be a wise move, and he’s proudly held on to it ever since. Now, a rare McLaren P1™ XP joins his collection – and when the two came together at a Pure McLaren track day at Silverstone, it was too good an opportunity to miss...
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but foresight is even better. Which is why one McLaren customer is understandably pleased that, 16 years ago, he made the right decision to buy a rather special car: the McLaren F1 GTR that came fifth at the 1995 Le Mans.
‘It was the “Jacardi” car, run by the French Giroix team and driven by Délétraz, Giroix and Grouillard,’ explains the owner. ‘After the race it was sold to a new owner who sent it back to McLaren to be completely rebuilt and made road legal. That’s when it changed from its racing blue livery to orange.'
‘I guess the new owner didn’t need it or didn’t use it, and in 2000 it came up for sale. Let’s say it was reassuringly expensive! It was the first F1 to make seven figures. But mechanically it was [and still is] exactly as it was as a race car, and I just thought, “Where are you going to find another race car that came fifth at Le Mans, that you can drive on the road?”’
With the benefit of hindsight, that decision should have been obvious, but at the time the future of the car’s reputation and value was far from certain. ‘The value of the cars had struggled, and fallen at that time,’ the customer remembers. ‘And this was a race car. I had a friend who was McLaren’s biggest F1 customer – he had a road car, a race car, and he ultimately ended up with the commemorative F1 LM edition too . He told me categorically, “Don’t touch it!” He said, “If you want a McLaren, buy a road car!” I said, “But it’s got a history, it came fifth at Le Mans.” I remember the discussion – he said, “Who cares!”’
One of the greatest pleasures has been attending the events that such a car unlocks: ‘I drove it in the 20th anniversary track parade at Le Mans in 2015. It was unbelievable, what a day. We were given strict instructions: “80mph, it’s not a race, it’s a demo, take it easy, we want the crowd to see the cars.” Fine, I thought; but we got onto the circuit and went to 80mph pretty quick; we got to the Mulsanne Straight and I thought, “We’re going a bit faster than 80!” Then we got to the Kink, and [the leading cars] were gone! I had JJ Lehto behind me, probably thinking, “I want to overtake and drive 100mph faster!” but the rule was you couldn’t overtake.'
‘Where else can you drive round Le Mans with the likes of Derek Bell, JJ Lehto, Yannick Dalmas and Chris Goodwin? You might be much slower, but what an honour. Likewise, the F1 GTR display at the 2015 Members’ Meeting at Goodwood. That was brilliant too.’
Now the customer has added to his collection with another important car: a prototype McLaren P1™ XP: ‘I bought the original McLaren 12C, the 650S, and I was considering a McLaren P1™,’ he explains. ‘Then McLaren offered me a McLaren P1™ XP, which is even more special, and I took it like a shot. I prefer things with a bit of history, and the XP has that. Then we found an original orange XP to match the GTR.’
Seeing the two cars together in the Silverstone pit lane is quite a sight, and driving them together is clearly an experience too. ‘Both of them offer staggering speed and acceleration,’ says the customer after a few laps of the circuit in each car. ‘It’s a reminder of just how fast the F1 GTR is too. You can feel that shared McLaren DNA – they make a great pair.’
So does that mean he plans to keep his McLaren P1™ for 16 years too?
‘I don’t see why not,’ the customer replies. ‘There are only 15 McLaren P1™ XPs – if you’ve got one of 15, unless you have to, why would you ever sell it?’