Posted by: Paul | January 4, 2011

New Year, new…car?

I spent the afternoon yesterday recording an interview with motor racing and sports car expert Doug Nye at his home in Surrey. Doug is a journalist and author by trade and has spent much of his life around motorsport, and he is a renowned expert in the field, consulting for McLaren on the car in the photo above, the F1 LM. There are only five of these in the world (six if you count the prototype in the McLaren factory which Lewis Hamilton has his eye on), and the Sultan of Brunei owns three. One more is in the car collection of fashion designer Ralph Lauren, the audio tour for which is why I found myself at Doug’s dining table yesterday, chatting idly about supercars.

Doug has actually driven one of these monster machines, with a theoretical top speed of 243 mph. Under controlled and legal conditions, you understand! I say ‘monster’, but in size terms it’s not much bigger than a Honda Civic, Doug told told me. And imagine doing this in a Honda Civic:

‘You certainly notice the difference between 100 and 150 miles per hour,’ he said, ‘but from 150 to 200 everything’s happening so fast that you have no spare capacity to appreciate anything extra, so you don’t notice it as much.’

With it’s central driving position, the F1 is as close as you will find to a road-legal Formula One car. And I guess that’s the point, since McLaren designer Gordon Murray envisioned it as the ‘ultimate road car’. Despite not being designed for racing, modified versions of it won the 1995 Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race, and the very limited run ‘LM’ version was created in honour of those vehicles. So the LM version is a road version of a racing car which was a racing version of a road car, if you follow me!

You might read the above thinking I’m a car nut, but I’m not really. My little Focus will do for now, but I could really do with something which uses less fuel. At an average of 15mpg, there’s no McLaren F1 LM for me then! (I can dream…)


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