Lotus Driving Academy

Lotus Driving Academy


250 MPH 2020 McLaren Speedtail to be Offered at RM Sotheby’s Monterey Auction

When unveiled to the global public at Monaco’s Sporting Club on 28 May 1992, the McLaren F1 was heralded as the ultimate development of a roadgoing supercar. Collectors and critics alike fawned over the F1’s distinctive design, revolutionary construction, and record-breaking performance. Nearly 30 years on, the McLaren F1 is still the undisputed pinnacle of any collection fortunate enough to retain one of its 106 examples produced between 1992 and 1998.

Yet technology is constantly progressing, and a company like McLaren certainly cannot afford to rest on its laurels; to do so would not be in its character, to say nothing of its long-term interest. Drawing on the spirit of the F1, and incorporating everything the Woking, England-based automaker has learned in the intervening decades, the 2020 McLaren Speedtail once again pushes the automotive envelope. Limited to just 106 units, the same as its predecessor the F1, the futuristic Speedtail is an exclusive offering on the cutting edge of 21st century hypercar performance.

2020 McLaren Speedtail offered at RM Sotheby's Monterey Auction
2020 McLaren Speedtail Strikingly finished in blue carbon fiber with MSO Contour Paint Effect offered at RM Sotheby’s Monterey Auction


Like the F1, the Speedtail is built around a lightweight, carbon fiber tub. This time, the composite material is reinforced with titanium strands and sculpted into a more dramatic “teardrop” shape surmounted by a one-piece glass canopy. The F1’s signature three-person seating configuration and vertical-dihedral doors have also carried over to the 2020 design, this time making full use of lighter materials unavailable to McLaren in 1992.

Despite the reverence for its predecessor, the Speedtail is unreservedly a car of the 21st century. Nowhere is this revelation more evident than its hybrid powertrain. The 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine is an evolution of the McLaren P1’s engine and features a revised piston design along with enhanced cylinder head cooling, enabling it to produce over 750 horsepower. The Speedtail’s electric motor and battery, meanwhile, are both units developed by McLaren’s Formula E technology group. The motor smooths out power delivery at low engine speeds, providing an additional 312 horsepower; the dielectric cooled and insulated 1.647-kWh battery was, at its debut, the most power-dense unit ever fitted to a production vehicle. The innovative inductive charging pad charges the battery system wirelessly from underneath the car. Total system output is a formidable 1,035 horsepower, propelling the Speedtail to a reported top speed of 250 mph.

2020 McLaren Speedtail offered at RM Sotheby's Monterey Auction
2020 McLaren Speedtail Strikingly finished in blue carbon fiber with MSO Contour Paint Effect offered at RM Sotheby’s Monterey Auction

The Speedtail’s sleek, elongated carbon fiber bodywork is underpinned by an adjustable, multi-link suspension composed of aluminum alloy. This system works in tandem with the Speedtail’s cutting-edge active aerodynamics (which include remarkable deformable carbon fiber ailerons), distinctive static wheel covers, bespoke Pirelli tires, and carbon ceramic brakes to keep the 16.8-foot-long vehicle glued to the ground. The design’s incredibly low drag coefficient maximizes the Speedtail’s fuel efficiency, especially when paired with its regenerative braking system.

As with the F1, the central driving position of the Speedtail offers an uncompromised driving experience unlike anything else on the road. From the central seat, the driver has an unobstructed view of their surroundings; with both A-pillars out of their line of sight, they can more accurately place the car on the roadway. A defining feature of the F1, this central driving experience is uniquely implemented by McLaren and feels entirely natural. In addition to offering optimal visibility, the central driver’s seat allows for two additional passengers to enjoy the exhilarating ride of the Speedtail.

Further, the Speedtail replaces side mirrors with hideaway cameras, which retract back into their respective panels during activation of the Speedtail’s exclusive “Active Velocity” mode—which lowers the car several inches and changes the aerovane configuration, thus streamlining the silhouette for extreme stability at high speeds. The mode was on full display on 19 December 2019 with a McLaren Speedtail prototype reaching 250 mph over 30 times during testing at the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds—part of the NASA’s Space Shuttle Landing Facility in Orlando, Florida.

All told, the Speedtail is the fastest, most aerodynamic, and most technologically advanced McLaren ever made, pushing the frontier of what is possible in a road car. On public roads, its futuristic design and length of 16.8 feet give it a presence like nothing else. More than its exclusivity or any styling similarities, it is this that makes it a true successor to the legendary F1.


The Speedtail offered here, number 81, is a uniquely presented specimen with over £389,500 (~$539,540) of bespoke and optional equipment, as confirmed by the McLaren Automotive Order Confirmation document. In addition to these extras, the car has since been fitted with the MSO center roof scoop made available to Speedtail owners as a post-delivery upgrade. The functional carbon fiber roof scoop is reminiscent of the McLaren F1 and costs in excess of $100,000.

This chassis’ exterior is finished in blue stained carbon fiber with the dramatic MSO Contour Paint Effect at a cost of £80,000 (nearly $110,000). The blue carbon fiber fades to clear gloss carbon fiber in the side scoops, on the front bumper, and front hood scoops, nicely tying into the gloss carbon wheel covers, diffuser, and front splitter. The 10-spoke wheels are blue with a diamond cut, and the McLaren Orange brake calipers contrast well against the blue carbon fiber bodywork.

A comprehensive suite of Zircon trim, aluminum, and titanium flourishes add a uniform appeal to both exterior and interior. Inside, the Speedtail’s next-gen dashboard and distinctive three-seat cockpit are trimmed in stunning black and blue Aniline leather. The carbon fiber steering wheel is appointed in black leather; it fronts a suite of five digital displays, and the two elements are interceded by a pair of billet titanium paddle shifters. Included with Speedtail number 81 is a five-piece fitted luggage set finished in carbon fiber and leather matching the interior of the car.

It is safe to say that the revolutionary Speedtail’s saga is only getting started; like its predecessor the F1, the Speedtail is predicted to capture the public’s attention for decades to come. With each of the 106 examples being purchased by pre-selected customers before the model’s announcement, the availability of this Speedtail, number 81, offers an exciting opportunity to partake in the most advanced road going vehicle that McLaren has built to date. The Speedtail is an engineering triumph combining the best of McLaren’s past with extraordinary technology of the present. Its moment in the spotlight has just begun.

By: RM Sotheby's | Phtoos Courtesy of: RM Sotheby's

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