Now there’s a sight you don’t see very often. [credit:
Jonathan Gitlin ]
CARMEL, Calif.—Quick question: what’s the greatest car of all time? If, like me, you got into cars in the 1990s, that’s an easy one to answer—it’s the McLaren F1, of course. By the late 1980s, the McLaren Formula 1 team had won almost everything there was to win, and its head designer Gordon Murray was getting bored. To keep him on the payroll and entertained, McLaren approved his plan to build a road car without compromise. It would have three seats, with the driver in the middle. There would be a naturally aspirated V12, a six-speed manual transmission, and no driver aids at all. Along the way, Murray and co. created a car that managed to be leagues faster than anything that came before it, and almost everything that has come since. It even proved to be a pretty good racing car, winning Le Mans on its debut in 1995.
So you can imagine the size of my grin when I discovered not one but four McLaren F1s were basking in the sun at this year’s Quail Motorsports Gathering, which took place last Friday as part of Monterey Car Week. As you’ll see from the photos above, I even ran into Murray himself.
And as you’ll note from the photos immediately below this text, the F1s weren’t the only megastars of the mid-90s in attendance. There were also four Bugatti EB110s, a car that were it not for the McLaren would have worn the supercar crown throughout the decade. The EB110 also featured a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, a V12 engine, and a six-speed gearbox, but the V12 was a 3.5L affair with four turbochargers, and the transmission sent power to all four wheels. It’s a car that modern Bugatti has shied away from in the past, but as you’ll see that’s beginning to change. Did I mention there were a ton of photos in this post? You should definitely scroll through all of them because that’s where I’ve hidden the story.