McLaren F1 value soars

Qualifying values of the McLaren F1 vs Jaguar D-Type

Dave Bentson Expert Insight

In the last ten years or so, McLaren F1s have shot up in value. Median values hovered around $2.5 million through 2012. Today? $18 million.

There are a host of factors, as well as plenty of other considerations to unpack the context around this huge spike. There’s so much here, in fact, that I humbly seek your permission for the bittersweet musing and perhaps rambling stream-of-consciousness style that follows.

It wasn’t too long ago, really, when a McLaren F1 could be had for less than $3 million. When Gooding & Company sold this 2-owner 3,500-mile car for $3,575,000, it was a record-setting price at the time.

Most F1 sales today are private. But we know from our associates that the median value is now in the $18 to $20 million range. The record holder today is this car, an “LM-Spec” sold during Pebble Beach 2019 by RM Sotheby’s at their Monterey sale. It will almost certainly be exceeded once the hammer drops on this 387km car in Monterey later this year.

Comparing McLaren F1 & Jaguar D-Type Values

Next, let’s compare McLaren F1 values with that of the Jaguar D-Type. Before my industry colleagues cry foul, consider this: in the context of “the most expensive cars sold at auction,” nearly all of the top 30 are Jaguars, Ferraris and Aston Martins from the 1950s and ‘60s.

Sure, there are three cars from the 1930s. But there are also three cars from the ‘90s—and all three happen to be one model, the McLaren F1.

Furthermore, about the same number were produced (lets agree to 71 D-Types and 106 F1s). Both models achieved extraordinary results at Le Mans. And both cars, for decades after the final one was built, were known as the pinnacle of the sports car, the benchmark by which all others are compared.

With that out of the way, now let us consider D-Type values.

This Le Mans winning car sits atop the rest of the heap at $21.78 million sold by RM Monterey 2016. In 2018, “OKV 2” didn’t sell, and had trouble achieving a high bid of $10 million. Quite surprising for a car with such a known history. I was offered OKV 2 in the midst of the pandemic and called three clients encouraging them to consider the car. I shared this Petrolicious video, which is worth viewing more than once.

Still, I cannot explain how the car has not sold. As I write, here in July 2021, OKV 2 remains on MM Garage for sale.

McLaren F1s have shot up in value. Granted, they had a wonderful motorsports history. But D-Types dominated, too: their Le Mans record is historic, specifically 2nd in 1954, 1st in 1955, 1st in 1956 and in 1957, D-Types placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th.

What’s Going On?

So, why are D-Type values going down?

What is the historical significance of these two models? How could we possibly quantify what values for these two models will be 20 years from now?

On one level, it doesn’t make any sense—people have turned down $25 million for a D-Type.

We cannot say with precision, but it’s worth taking a 30,000-foot view of the situation. We can see, plain as day, that the world has fallen in love with McLaren F1s. Or more precisely, the changing tastes of car collectors continue to evolve.

The next generation of car collectors don’t value that of the Old Guard. However, I believe with time, the next generation of collectors will 

It’s unlikely we will see a car as great as a D-Type or an F-1 again. Unfortunately, I foresee 100 percent of future production of hypercars (aka supercars) being fast appliances that lack the heart and soul evident when you get behind the wheel of a McLaren F1.

Down the Road: A Reckoning of Values

I believe the next generation of epic car collectors, specifically those with the means to buy what they want – their value criteria is different than that of the Old Guard of collectors. I also believe that the next generation of car collectors will affect values tomorrow.

Their knowledge will grow. Their tastes will evolve to propertly value historically significant cars that came along prior to their birth. And their level of sophistication will force a reckoning of values, both for Le Mans winning cars of the ‘50s, the McLaren F1 and everything in between.

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