When McLaren won the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans with the F1 GTR entered in the GT1 class, Porsche decided to challenge it a year later with the 911 GT1. Porsche succeeded in beating the McLaren F1; however, that was short-lived because Mercedes-Benz’s CLK GTR essentially killed the class. Carfection has gathered all three legendary street-legal race cars for a group test with the help of some very, very generous owners and DK Engineering.
Racing in the GT1 class required a road-going version of the race car. All three brands did exactly that. The McLaren F1 was already based on a production car while Porsche and Mercedes eventually created a small number of 911 GT1s and CLK-GTRs. Porsche’s 911 GT1 is rarer than the McLaren with only 22 cars built in total. The first two prototypes featured 993-style headlights. One was used for emissions testing while the second ended up in the hands of Bahrain-based car collector Khalid Abdulrahim. Dubbed the Straßenversion, the 20 production models were built in 1997 with 996-style headlights. While most cars wore Arctic Silver or Fern White exterior colors, three outliers wore Polar Silver, Indian Red, and Pastel Yellow respectively. Porsche also built one 911 GT1 Straßenversion in 1998 to comply with new FIA regulations.
Powering the Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion was a de-tuned 3.2-liter twin-turbo flat-six with 536 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Strict emissions regulations were the reason for the engine’s power getting dropped. The McLaren F1’s 6.1-liter V12 sourced from BMW makes 617 hp and 479 lb-ft.
Part 1 of the series focuses on the McLaren F1 and its mind-blowing performance for the period. The three-seat cockpit with the driver right at the center provides the visceral experience you expect out of the supercar considered the best of its era. This particular F1 is on its second owner and has spent time in the U.K., Germany, the U.S., and South Africa, and is the only one to come out of the factory with an Alcantara interior. The next part of the series will focus more on the Porsche 911 GT1 Straßenversion, one of the few supercars that rivaled the McLaren F1 in terms of performance.