Sale of the Week

A McLaren F1 is (once again) the top sale at the Monterey auctions

by Andrew Newton
15 August 2021 2 min read
Photo by Evan Klein

This past week there were four auctions during Monterey Car Week, and that means expensive cars. Lots of expensive cars. In fact, 82 automobiles sold for $1M or more at Monterey 2021. Only one could be the sale of the week, however, and that was without a doubt Gooding & Company’s 1995 McLaren F1. One of the two most anticipated cars of the auctions, the brown-on-brown hypercar sold for $20,465,000. A lot of brown for a lot of green, but also a world record price for the model at auction (others may have sold for more privately), just shy of its condition #1 (“concours”) value in the Hagerty Price Guide, and by far the highest price in a week of high prices.

Any McLaren F1 is a special car. It was packed with the most advanced materials of the day, brilliantly engineered, configured in a radical triple-seat layout, and able to reach a top speed that no other street car could match for many years. Oh, and McLaren only ever screwed together 106 F1s of all types, race cars included. The original sticker price was somewhere around $800,000 when McLaren unleashed the F1 way back in 1992. Big money at the time, but that number looks like an absolute steal today.

That’s because the F1’s legend and status have only grown since then. Today, this king of the 1990s is one of the most valuable cars in the world. F1s officially became eight-figure cars in the mid-2010s, and their condition #2 values in the Hagerty Price Guide have risen 497 percent over the past decade. That appreciation is evident even if you narrow your focus to Monterey: In 2019 the high sale of the week brought “just” $19.805M, even though it was arguably a more special LeMans-spec car.

That said, the F1 that just sold here is plenty special. Chassis number 029 (and Gooding Lot 29, by the way) is one of the most well preserved and lowest mileage examples around, and it is the only one finished in “Creighton Brown.” Now, Creighton Brown may not exactly be a household name, but Mr. Brown was a McLaren shareholder/commercial director for the company during the F1’s formative years, and an important enough chap to get a color named after him. It’s not just brown on the outside, either. The interior is finished in Light Tan and Dark Brown.

Chassis 029 first went to a private collection in Japan, until the consignor moved it to the United States, and in the last 25 years it has covered just 390 km (242 miles). As you’d expect on an eight-figure car with a gold-laden engine bay, it also came with its original tool chest, fitted luggage, and TAG Heuer 6000 McLaren F1 chronometer. In other words, it’s just about perfect—and a fitting capstone to a week when many of us were happy to be back to watching exceptional cars selling on the Monterey Peninsula.

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