StormBringer - Apologies for not getting back to your PM sooner - this might be a better venue anyway since there are a lot of people who are interested and some who might be able to contribute additional details as well.
Now - for those looking for a Brunei F1 history lesson, here it is to the best of my knowledge after years of many people gathering and sharing the details.
The Brunei Royal Family originally acquired a total of 10 McLaren F1s. The cars are of course typically attributed to "The Sultan" but there were other family members buying cars and so I typically generalize the entire collection as belonging to the "Royal Family" since it is hard to know who actually did what and from here on out, let's go with the abbreviation "BRF" to make things easier.
We got our biggest break in the "Brunei F1 story" in August 2006 when a user named 'Citronella' on FerrariChat published a massive list he suggested had been obtained while working in Brunei of many of the cars located in "Garage #5". The list included 9 F1s - their types, their Brunei registration plates, and then their VINs. Here are the details:
MCL F1 GTR NONE FIGTR009
MCL F1 BN3388 SA9AB5AC3R1048005
MCL F1 BN2008 SA9AB5AC4R1048014
MCL F1 LM KF90 SA9AB5AC9T1048LM1
MCL F1 LM BP75 SA9AB5AC4T1048LM4
MCL F1 BN73 SA9AB5AC9R1048008
MCL F1 LM BM2208 SA9AB5AC6T1048LM5
MCL F1 BN1954 SA9AB5AC1P1048002
MCL F1 GT BQ7551 SA9AR5BC8T1048054
There wasn't much more from this mysterious Citronella character besides a few never-before-seen photos of a couple of the F1s that confirmed he wasn't making these things up. After that he disappeared - and hopefully not because "they got to him".
Taking a giant decade-long leap forward, here's what I can say of things today:
So far there are just two F1s known to have left the collection - and we might as well cover their known histories in brief while we are here.
The first was chassis 014
which had been painted yellow. In 2002 it appeared for sale through Taylor & Crawley in London - run by the former McLaren Cars Sales Director, David Clark. There were a number of legal proceedings taking place due to the financial misdeeds of Prince Jefri who had been exiled from the country and I suspect that the judgement against him was what forced the sale in this instance.
Chassis 014 had made a previous appearance at some Salon Prive-type event in the UK presented by David, so it isn't entirely clear how long it had been out of Brunei before it was offered for sale. Rumors that the BRF kept cars in key location around the world mean it could have been in London for quite a while actually. Another indicator of that being the case is a story from someone who visited the collection in the late 1990s and reported that they did not see a Yellow F1. Given that the BRF have acquired thousands of cars over the years, perhaps it was just overlooked?
The car was purchased by a New York collector who has since owned a total of 3 F1s. It arrived in the USA and was spotted at Wide World of Cars in early 2003. Then it was not seen again much at all until he sold the car to a California exotic car dealer called Silicon Valley Auto Group in December 2005. SVAG put the car in their showroom and tried to find a buyer at ~$1.8M, as they had recently sold another F1 for a similar amount.
I'm sure if I asked for a show of hands of current people interested in buying any McLaren F1 for $1.8M we could fill a room, but in 2005/2006 no one wanted this F1.
I've been made aware 014 had some paperwork issues which was really the impetus for the NY collector to part with it. When I later saw the car there were some small areas in the paint that needed correction, as well as some of the materials in the interior that appeared to be stretched out/sagging - particularly the alcantara on the upper dashboard and along the tops of the interior door panels. At least as far as the interior was concerned, an overhaul was already required. SVAG held onto the car for the next 8 months, declining a couple of fairly legit offers from what I was told, and at some point chose to take their chances and enter the car in RM's Monterey auction in August 2006. It had been three years since an F1 appeared for sale at auction and the market was creeping upwards - I think they were hopeful of some drama and a great result.
I was there in the room for the bidding and things kind of stalled in the $1.5M range. At that point, my impression is that the Reserve on the car was lifted and the final bid of $1.55M brought it to a final selling price of $1.705M with the Premium. Certainly not the result that SVAG desired since they likely didn't collect all of the $1.55M either, but nevertheless it was the highest public sale price for any McLaren F1 up to that point. The car was acquired by a different New York collector and the following winter was sent back to McLaren Customer Care for them to overhaul the car with new paint, new interior and the addition of the optional High Downforce Kit - I've heard the invoices totaled $600K, all in. The result was a white car with the "LM-look" both outside and inside which has been retained by the same family ever since. It's a frequent attendee to Monterey Car Week and enthusiastically driven - a real crowd pleaser.
= = =
The second F1 known to have been sold by the BRF just left late last year and is chassis 005
. It first surfaced in a couple of photos online that were taken in transit at the Hong Kong airport cargo area in November 2015. It was a black car with tinted windows, black wheels and the headlamp covers were severely fogged over. I saw these photos and immediately I was convinced that what I was looking at was a Brunei car. I quickly shared them with one contact and he suggested it was best that I not publicize anything about the car as he was aware of its movement and that the transaction was very sensitive. This wasn't my preferred approach with a piece of news this BIG, but it became clear that the photos from Hong Kong had the potential to be very disruptive to the process so I did keep my mouth shut.
The car was delivered to the UK and was extensively detailed almost immediately. It's black wheels were swapped with silver ones and the broker who had arranged to purchase the car began quietly offering it to potential buyers. MSO then made some time available in their schedule a couple months later to overhaul the necessary items on the car. From one insider in the process I am told that when it landed in workshop was in far better condition than McLaren had been expecting. That could be good news for the other F1s that remain in Brunei, but probably not in every single case.
In July a story appeared online by LoveCars outlining most of the details that had previously been kept under wraps. You can read that and see some photos of the car right here
. In the days that followed this F1 made an appearance at CarFest North in the UK - an event that is sponsored/organized by DJ and former new-Top Gear host Chris Evans, parked beside Evans La Ferrari and his Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang car. It took just one day for someone to confirm him as the buyer of the black F1, and later sources confirmed the same.
For many years I was unsure if chassis 005 still existed in Brunei as during a visit in 2009 by one contact it was not one of the cars he was shown. All the others assumed to be still in Brunei at that time were confirmed besides this car, so it was great to finally see it resurface and I am happy that it has a new home.
Just to be clear, there was a black F1 road car featured in Episode 2 of the new Top Gear show with Chris Evans behind the wheel and that was not
chassis 005, but rather 069 which McLaren recently brokered the sale of for a different owner.
= = =
Moving along, there was one McLaren F1 that met a very tragic end at the hands of a mechanic employed by McLaren, who was living in Brunei during the heyday. For many years it was unclear which car this could have been. The story of the crash was not a well guarded secret and at one point more than a decade ago I even exchanged a couple of emails with the driver involved in the crash. He confirmed the car was written off but would not confirm which chassis it had been or supply further details.
There was always speculation that chassis 004
had gone to Brunei. This was stoked by one report of someone seeing a red F1 on the road there and the fact that it had never been known to have been spotted anywhere else in the world over the period of more than a decade. Because of 005's absence in Brunei during that 2009 visit it also remained on the MIA list, so for a large number of years we were left to suggest the F1 involved in the Brunei crash was either chassis 004 or 005.
In July 2014 a representative from MSO essentially confirmed that 004 was the Brunei crash car when he wrote "F1/004 is not lost, it is no longer in existence
". What I've heard from another McLaren source was that the car returned to Woking after the accident and was dismantled, with only the few salvagable parts returned to Brunei to be used as spares. I would hope that the rest was properly disposed of, and if anyone tries to sell you McLaren F1 chassis 004 today I'd advise taking a pass on it.
= = =
So that leaves us with 7 F1s that should still remain in Brunei. I can only be certain that they were all there in 2009 during and seen by the visitor I spoke with. He stated that all the cars he was shown were generally in fairly good condition, noting just one that had a flat tire needing attention. Those 7 cars consist of:
, the very first production F1 road car, completed December 1993. It was painted Dorchester Grey with a Red stripe on the door ventline. The few photos that exist of this car appeared inside an AutoCar supplement on the McLaren F1 published early in 1994.
, which was the only F1 road car painted in Cobalt Blue. In studio photos taken in Brunei it would appear this car wears polished wheels.
= = =
, the last 1995-spec F1 GTR. This car was finished as replica of the Le Mans winning GTR because thankfully Ron Dennis was unwilling to part with the actual car that won. There have been stories that this car wears race number '60' instead of '59' but there's been no visual proof to support this. This GTR was never raced and may even have never been driven after its shakedown runs at the factory. It was this car that was said to have the flat tire in 2009.
= = =
- I mention these two together as they are the infamous and mythical "Black F1 LMs". There was enough repeated misinformation published by McLaren (intentionally or just out of convenience perhaps) stating that all five F1 LMs would be painted in McLaren's traditional orange that most people probably believe that to be the case.
What actually occurred with these two cars is they were painted in a treatment similar to the Le Mans winning GTR, with Black over Silver paint (the winning GTR is Black/Grey in case you are scratching your head there) and then some fairly awkward looking yellow and blue graphics were painted around the nose under the headlamps and in stripes down the side of the car. If you have seen any of the few images that exist in the public domain of these things you will definitely be left wondering what the heck the BRF were thinking on these two. They also have black wheels with some yellow or orange marks painted on the curve of each wheel spoke. While they are very unique, and I am normally a champion of originality, I would seriously hope that whoever gets their hands on either one of these two next will rectify the situation with something else; really anything else.
, the last of the production F1 LMs and the only one that the BRF chose to have painted in McLaren's traditional orange paint. Sadly zero photos exist of this one in the public domain. I would judge this one as probably the most desirable F1 in the BRF's collection assuming that it has been well cared. It is the final example and as an added bonus it wouldn't have the stigma associated with the creative color scheme chosen on the other two.
= = =
, one of three longtail F1 GT road cars produced. These were the homolgation specials for the 1997 F1 GTR longtail and only two examples were produced for customers. The BRF's example is Black over Black with some orange interior accents. Just one photo exists of it in the public domain.
= = =
That just about covers it - the post would have been better if I inserted some images samples, but I am typing this without connectivity just to get it done and can add some samples later. If you have anything to add to (or subtract from) this story at all, I'm of course always eager to hear it. Especially important are any early details since it is so difficult to go back in time without a DeLorean. If there are any questions I'll field those as soon as I have the time.
10 F1s purchased, 2 F1s sold, 1 F1 destroyed, now (probably) 7 F1s left.
The cars that remain are 2 road cars , 3 LMs, 1 GTR and 1 GT.