I personally responded to your email when you were so kind to point out errors in our text panel next to our F1.
Here is my actual response cut and paste from the email:
"Erik , Thank you for your comments and interest. Please do come by and visit if you get to our
area. Actually the F1 details are essentially accurate as written, however, the length of the text won’t
allow for a deeper explanation regarding the F1 prototypes. Doug Nye helped us create that text and
stands by the condensed version. We would be pleased to talk with you more on this subject as time
allows." If you never received it then I sincerely apologize.
Nope, only the brief thank you from Fernando.
I do wish I had received your reply then as it would have been great to continue this dialogue at that time and hopefully have been able to convince you to make the correction already. Definitely appreciate the time you have taken to piece this together here now and I'll try to address each point you have supplied as clearly as possible below.
My response to Fernando was:
"I do remember his email. The funny part about it is the fact that he quotes Doug Nye as saying in his book, Doug Nye wrote our text panel for our McLaren F1.
When dealing with prototypes, production cars , race cars, test cars the waters can get murky pretty quick especially when it comes to what constitutes a prototype vs a production car. Especially since the company can easily re-badge or serial number a prototype to become a production car. "
I will agree that those things do happen when it comes to automobiles, but state unequivocally that they have certainly not happened with the structure of chassis sequencing on the McLaren F1. The only F1 prototype that was upgraded to full production spec was XP5, but that activity did not in any way change its original designation as a "prototype" and the car still carries its prototype chassis identifier, and VIN, as well as the sticker along its flanks that reads "XP5 - Experimental Prototype". If you were to contact MSO's Heritage group today and inquire about XP5 they would no doubt confirm it remains a "prototype" in their eyes as well.
Most of your information you said came from the book written by Doug Nye, well he also is the one who wrote our history and text panels as you can see in my above response when Fernando questioned it. So I talked with Doug because of course we want to be accurate as possible, but we do not just change history and text when written by one of the world's foremost authorities on automobile history because one person sends an email claiming they know the facts. Nothing personal, but we receive emails every day with people telling us "facts" when they typically have the story wrong, or with automotive history, it can be so murky when researching, so before we ever change a thing we do an enormous amount of research which is extremely time-consuming. It does help that we have one of the world's most complete automotive libraries but even then some of the facts are obscure or unclear, usually because of manufacturers doing shady stuff like switching serial numbers. They did that with Enzo's Superamerica that we own along with our GT-40 which raced under two different serial numbers. Actual Enzo's personal Ferrari had the serial number changed three times, Once when he owned it, then a new one when he sold it, and yet again back to the original number when he got the car back again.
This was straight from Doug Nye when asked about your email, bear in mind most of Doug's information came directly from Gordon Murray, plus we are really good friends with him and Peter Stevens. (I just spent a week with Peter in Montana this past August):
I think in trying to simplify that McLaren F1 description I must have just over-simplified the line with which your irritating - but entirely justified - complainant is taking issue.
Just re-checking my own work in 'Driving Ambition' - which was, after all, confirmed and verified by my then friends at the factory, the detailed situation was as follows:
Prototype cars serialled XP1 to XP5 - so five cars, one destroyed in the Namibian desert, others effectively finished to production spec and still (as far as I know) in existence - eg Gordon Murray's personal car.
Doug Nye's efforts with "Driving Ambition" were certainly a major building block for the knowledge that I possess today, but on the back of that I've spent more than a decade pouring over every other detail I could find about these cars and continue to live/eat/sleep/breathe the F1, which I think it's very fair to say (with all due respect) is not true for Doug.
XP2 was also destroyed by the factory following the end of its useful life as a prototype. It had been used as the crash test car at MIRA in 1993 - the one Gordon Murray had hoped to be inside of when it impacted the barrier given he was so confident in the F1s safety. XP2 was a fairly crude example of the F1 and the factory have confirmed that it no longer exists today.
The F1 road car prototypes still remaining are XP3 with Gordon Murray; XP4 in private hands now in California with collector Craig McCaw; and XP5 which McLaren have kept in their own collection in Woking. Both XP3 and XP4 still retain very obvious visible clues that give reference to their prototype status, including stickers similar to the ones on XP5, so full production spec they are not.
There are several complications within the production list of road and racing variants, with the LM homologation models and five assorted 'specials'. BUT, excluding the five original XP prototypes of which four survived, the road car cumulative build number list totals 64 vehicles. Including the five XPs we get 69 - there were then 28 GTRs in varied form PLUS the five 'specials' built for assorted purposes (including favours to effective project sponsors, etc etc etc). So the total of McLaren F1 'entities' built overall is officially 5 + 64 + 5 + 28 + 5 oddballs. This gives us an overall total of:
One Hundred & Seven (107)
I don't believe it is accurate to say "There are several complications..." The listing of F1 chassis numbers and what purpose each of them were built for is very clear and has not been altered by any changes to the cars over the years or called into question by any "new" information uncovered in the over 15 years that I have spent researching these cars.
There are certainly not 5 "oddballs".
While I don't doubt your statement that those words have come from Doug, I struggle to believe that he'd be so vague there.
One of those five would be the F1 LM prototype, chassis 'XP1LM' which McLaren have kept.
Three of them are the F1 GT longtail road cars built to homologate the longtail F1 GTRs in 1997. These were built out of sequence by number - the prototype which McLaren have kept is 56XPGT, then 54F1GT was sold to Brunei and 58F1GT was sold to Japan. Both remain in those respective locations today.
The last "oddball" should not be counted at all as it was a spare chassis never intended to be completed into a finished F1. This spare chassis was later used to rebuild a damaged car, taking on that car's original chassis number. This is why New Britain
accurately suggests that we need to subtract 1 from the count that Doug has provided to you. There was never
a 107th F1 produced.
But then we get into the murky world of replacement bodyshells (as supplied to repair Rowan Atkinson's car (twice, I believe), and possibly also Tony Smith's, etc etc etc...
I would happily, for simplicity's sake, leave it more or less the way it was.
Best - Doug
A good number of F1s have been rebuilt - a few with new chassis as part of the process, but they have all retained their original chassis number in every instance. Atkinson's didn't need a chassis in its first crash, but certainly did the second time around. That car, now in the hands of a new owner, still carries chassis 061 as it did when it first left the factory in 1997.
Hopefully, that sheds some light on our text panel and history but I would love to further discuss this if you want and once again I am really sorry if you never saw my response to your original email. We always appreciate when people find new history or report something wrong with any of our vehicles, we strive to represent them in the most accurate fashion.
It certainly sheds light on the reasoning he used, but I'm going to be very stubborn in my insistence that it still doesn't accurately satisfy the facts of the matter or serve to correct the error that has been published on your sign.
Take for example the current situation with McLaren selling P1 prototypes. We all know the production car count was 375 units, and given all the currently available information McLaren had produced 22 P1 prototypes. They have now, in post-production, chosen to refurbish and sell 15 of those prototypes to private customers, but that action doesn't increase the production car count to 390, nor has it reduced the prototype count to 7.
I saw two of those P1 prototypes during the month of August - VP4 and XP10 - both still proudly referencing their prototype origins, including the Georgia license plate "VP4" on that chassis. If you asked the owners of those cars or even MSO whether these cars were production cars or prototypes I am certain the answer you receive would be clear, in spite of the fact that they have been upgraded to full production spec to make them saleable units.
As a last gasp effort to hopefully enlighten you beyond the words of the esteemed Doug Nye - here is an exact digital duplication I have created of the McLaren F1 Chassis History poster that is included with the book "Driving Ambition", covering each car in detail. This is the factory's data presented in a very concise format - the only changes necessary using present day knowledge would be to the colors listed for cars which have since been resprayed.
Of course you won't be able to read it at this resolution ^^^ but that image should be clickable for a Hi-Res version measuring 4415x1082 pixels. If you can't access the full version that way, hopefully you can through this secondary Dropbox link
Scrolling all the way to the end on the right you can clearly see the final F1 chassis breakdown and how that dubious "107" number was obtained. You can also reference the build slot for your own chassis 022 and see very clearly how falls very squarely into the the batch of cars produced in 1994, and not 1995.
I would be very happy to, for the sake of accuracy instead of simplicity, see you make the change to that sign. If you have any further questions/comments on this or any other topic related to the F1 I'm very pleased to help address them to the best of my knowledge.