Sultan of Brunei’s McLaren F1 GT Emerges From the Shadows

One of the rarest, most expensive cars in the world was seen being transported in a Boeing 787 allegedly destined to London.

The McLaren F1 is a legend in its own right. Of the 106 cars that were built, only three F1 GTs (commonly referred to as “Longtails” due to their stretched bodywork) were made to comply with FIA requirements for the F1 GTR race cars that competed in the GT1 class at Le Mans. One of these three cars ended up in the hands of one of the world’s most prolific car collectors: The Sultan of Brunei.

Recently, @brunei_car_collection on Instagram—an account dedicated to tracking the movements of former and current Brunei-owned cars—posted a photo of a known McLaren F1 GT being loaded onto a Boeing 787 in Brunei, allegedly bound for London’s Heathrow Airport. This McLaren F1 GT is rarely seen and usually only appears once every few years, according to the poster. According to the Instagram caption, the car is reportedly being brought to McLaren HQ in Woking for restoration and maintenance work. While a car being transported for service may not seem significant at first glance, it is the car’s owner and the car itself that makes this so intriguing.

Of the 106 McLaren F1s manufactured in the early 1990s, the sultan reportedly owns 10. The collection is estimated to have between 2,500 to 7,000 cars comprising nearly all luxury and exotic cars, as the video below shows (including the F1 GT in question here). There are allegedly over 600 Rolls-Royces in his collection, including a special $14-million, six-door, gold-plated Rolls-Royce Silver Spur II. However, the McLaren F1 GT represents one of the rarest and most expensive. The collection was rumored to have begun to rot away in the humid tropical weather due to poor maintenance and storage conditions. Expensive exotics and even one-off supercars were allegedly beginning to fall apart and grow mold.

This photo of the car reportedly on its way to England shows that the Sultan (or someone acting on his behalf) is involved in maintaining his car collection, and proof that maybe not all is lost. McLaren F1 maintenance is notoriously expensive (shocker) and quite difficult as all maintenance is done through McLaren’s factory team directly and only a handful of mechanics are trained to repair these. How expensive can repairing an F1 be? Well, actor Rowan Atkinson had a repair bill of his regular road-going McLaren F1 in a 2011 accident for $1.2 million. Despite this and another smaller accident, he sold the car in 2015 for $12.2 million, which shows that the value of these cars is so astronomically high, that the maintenance cost is worth it.

The Drive reached out to the original poster of the photographs as well as a McLaren spokesperson to find out more information, though we’ve yet to hear back.

The Sultan of Brunei is one of the wealthiest men on the planet. As the political leader of Brunei, the small nation state’s economy is comprised nearly entirely of oil exports. While the country has a relatively high GDP per capita of $27,442 in 2020 according to the World Bank, most of the wealth of the country of nearly half a million citizens is concentrated with the Sultan and his family. Forbes lists his total net worth at over $20 billion and one of the things the Sultan spends that money on the most is his infamous car collection. Like most oil states of this sort, Brunei’s human rights record is poor, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Hopefully, some information about this beautiful example will surface during its alleged stay in Europe.

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