Friday, July 8, 2016

McLaren F1 at the Petersen

On a recent trip to visit my parents, my dad an I took the opportunity to visit the Petersen Automotive Museum. I haven't been there in a few years, and it recently reopened after an extensive remodel for its 20th anniversary. Our first priority was the Vault tour, which took us below the museum to its underground storage facilities. Unfortunately, no photography was permitted, so I can only try and remember seeing the 1903 Cadillac or the 1923 Mercedes, before Mercedes-Benz was born. Other notable cars in vault were a 1967 Toyota 2000 GT, a 1937 Jaguar SS 100, a 1933 Duesenberg SJ,  and a 1959 Scaglietti-designed Corvette, one of three commissioned by race-car drivers Gary Laughlin, Jim Hall and Carroll Shelby (who would later design the AC Cobra). 

After the vault tour we wandered around the other floors - seeing 

The Precious Metals exhibit was what I was really waiting for. I knew that on display was a 1995 McLaren F1, a car that, in spite of the many shows and events I've attended over the years, has eluded me. I think I first became aware of the F1 when I was in high school, playing the 2002 video game "Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2", and more so after Youtube arrived in 2005 and old Top Gear clips started being posted online.

I've been wanting to see this car for at least 10 years, and was thrilled at the prospect. It looks incredibly modern for something build 20 years ago, and yet stands in stark opposition to some of the more recent supercars that have been released. I was especially taken by the size of the tires, which have a nice contrast to the super low-profile rubber I see on things like the P1, LaFerrari, or Aventador. My guess from observation is that the F1 is actually a very comfortable car to drive on the road. I could have spent all day just in this room, at this one podium. 

I will say that my dad and I finished out our afternoon by trying out the full-scale driving simulators, and racing (read: just barely not crashing) around the famous Top Gear test track in an Ariel Atom was also a ton of fun.

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