Typically, if we post a car video, it’s something new, to show off a car maybe you haven’t seen before or in a light you haven’t seen it in before. But sometimes, it’s nice to go back and watch some old videos. Oldies but goodies, I believe they’re called. That’s what we’re going to do today. In the spirit of the McLaren F1, which is celebrating its 25th birthday this year, we’re taking a look at Jay Leno driving his from awhile back.
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Jay Leno is one of the few celebrity owners of the McLaren F1 and he’s easily one of the most passionate owners. While many owners keep their F1s in hermetically sealed garages and never drive them, to preserve their immense value, that’s not so with Leno. He drives his and drives his often, as owners should.
The McLaren F1 may be the absolute finest driving automotive machine ever made. So it’s meant to be driven. Gordon Murray and his brilliant team didn’t work so hard so these could sit in garages. They’re meant to be driven and driven hard. In fact, the engine was built so robustly that Paul Rosche himself (the man from BMW who designed the engine) claimed it didn’t need to be serviced for at least 9,000 miles. That’s a lifetime in a 627 hp 6.1 liter V12 that revs to 7,500 rpm.
In this video, Leno really describes what it’s like to drive the McLaren F1. And it’s good to see because there’s a lot of theater to it. Just getting in and starting it is unique. The driver’s seat is in the center of the car, so you have to sort of step over the passenger seat to get in. It’s awkward but once you’re in, you get a fantastic panoramic view ahead.
And then there’s that V12. Paul Rosche was a legend before he designed the F1 engine but that V12 was his magnum opus. It sounds incredible and the amount of torque it had for being naturally-aspirated was absurd then and is even more so now, as we’re so used to torque coming from turbocharging. At one point in the video, Leno says he’s gonna punch it a little and you can see how violently it accelerates by the jolt of the camera man. It seems intoxicating.
The McLaren F1 turns 25 this year but in many ways it’s more impressive than any modern supercar. In fact, I’d rather have it than any modern supercar, value be damned.