Supercars

The McLaren F1 has jumped in value from £540,000 to over £16 million

McLaren F1 chassis no. 63 at Hampton Court during Salon Prive.

Photo courtesy of Salon Prive
When the McLaren F1 launched in 1992, it was priced at £540,000, the equivalent to £965,000 when adjusted to 2020 values. The price wasn't just extraordinary - so was the car.

The F1 wasn't like anything the world have ever seen before. It was a no-compromise model and is now one of the most sought-after cars in the world.

It's story starts in 1988 when then-McLaren designer Gordon Murray was flying back from the 1988 Italian Grand Prix. The flight was delayed so Murray took the opportunity to sketch some ideas for a high-performance three-seater car. He then went on toe persuade Ron Dennis and other McLaren managers at the time to build the most intriguing road car ever conceived.

McLaren F1 Salon Prive McLaren F1 chassis no. 63 at Hampton Court during Salon Prive.Photo courtesy of Sale Prive

The car's body was sculpted by designer Peter Stevens from Murray's sketches. It was shaped to cut through the air but remain stable without needed wings. Only the airbrake would deploy when necessary. Like Murray's later T.50, the car's three-seat arrangement put the driver at center stage.

The F1 has the world's first carbon-fiber tub chassis - something that is quite common among supercars these days. That tub took 3,000 man-hours to make. The car featured a titanium subframe and magnesium alloy wheels, which factored into the idea of making the car as light as possible. Even the toolkit was titanium, as a means of saving weight.

At the model's heart is a 620-brake horsepower 6.1-liter V12 engine that was developed by Paul Rosche and the team at BMW Motorsport. It's top speed was over 230 mph. The heat it put out was so hot, McLaren needed to line the engine bay. What material did they choose? Pure gold, of course.

The engine is paired with a manual gearbox. The steering and brakes are unassisted.

Big brother was always watching. On-board diagnostics transferred data to the factory so every single one of the 64 road cars made could be monitored for performance.

McLaren made a promise. If a customer had a problem with their F1, McLaren would fly out a technician to fix it. Alternately, there were eight official service centres worldwide.

Even priced at £540,000, McLaren didn't profit from the car.

However, for owners, purchasing the F1 became a solid investment, if they were willing to play the long game. According to the Hagerty Price Guide, until 2006 F1s were changing hands for just over the original asking price, but by 2008 prices began to rise and the F1 was valued at £1.5 million.

It's only gone up from there. By 2014 the cost was over £5 million. In 2015, Mr. Bean actor Rowan Atkinson sold his F1 for £8 million, despite crashing it twice and making what was at the time possibly the world's biggest auto insurance claim.

In 2017 chassis no. 44 sold at Bonham's Quail Lodge Auction for $15.6 million (£12.1 million at the time), while the Hagerty Price Guide now values the cars at in excess of £16 million.

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The Bugatti Chiron Sport "Les Légendes du Ciel" edition pays homage to vintage aircraft.

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

In the aftermath of World War I, company founder Ettore Bugatti showcased the first three vehicles made by the company that bore his name. They were race cars and Bugatti found itself at the pinnacle of the sport very quickly.

By 1930, the company would begin its relationship with the aerospace industry, first with the Bugatti 100P, which never actually flew due to World War II, but served as the inspiration for a number of patents that are filed by the company. The plane went into storage as the Second World War kicked off and Mr. Bugatti would never again work on it during his lifetime.

Bugatti Chiron Sport "Les Légendes du Ciel" edition

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

Bugatti is honoring its racing and aviation past with a new series of Chiron Sport models dubbed "Les Légendes du Ciel". The drivers who piloted the Bugattis to success in the early 1900s were often time multitalented with resumes declaring them flying aces, daredevils, and technically skilled pilots.

"Bugatti has had close associations with aviation since the company was established more than 110 years ago. Many successful Bugatti racing drivers, such as Albert Divo, Robert Benoist and Bartolomeo 'Meo' Costantini, flew for the French Air Force, the French aviator legend Roland Garros privately drove a Bugatti Type 18 to be as fast on the road as in the air," says Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti. "It is therefore almost an obligation for us today to pay tribute to the legends of that time and dedicate a special edition to them."

Each of the new models features a special, matte gray "Gris Serpent" paint job, which is inspired by the exterior color of aircrafts from the 1920s. The color extends front to rear with high-contrast, which gloss stripe running up the center. The front wings are adorned with the "Les Légendes du Ciel" logo. The "Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge" tricolor decorates the front area of the side sills made of exposed black carbon fiber.

At the front is Bugatti's traditional horseshoe radiator grille, finished in gloss black. The grille mesh is made of laser-cut and deep-drawn aluminum, and constructed in a dynamic pattern that that is repeated on the car's leather seats. Entry lights project the edition logo on the ground at entry while "Les Légendes du Ciel" logo on the middle console inlays.

Bugatti has covered the engine with black exposed carbon fiber with contrasting white lettering. The material continues at the back where black exposed carbon fibre and a black-coated exhaust trim cover made of 3D printed, high-temperature-resistant Inconel dominate.

The car's interior is almost entirely upholstered in leather. The leather's light brown color was chosen to be reminiscent of the natural leather in early aircrafts. On the door panels there is a hand-sketched racing scene between the Nieuport 17 aircraft and a Bugatti Type 13.

The new Bugatti Chiron Sport "Les Légendes du Ciel" edition is limited to 20 vehicles. Every model is independently numbered and costs $3.5 million.

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Bruce Pascal is one of the most devoted Hot Wheels collectors on the planet.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The first Hot Wheels arrived in stores in 1968 and it wasn't long until they became the number one toy. Bruce Pascal was seven years old at the time and remembers the toy immediately becoming popular with his circle of friends.

"It's hard to explain the craze today, but Hot Wheels was huge. All of my friends were saving up to buy all the Hot Wheels they could," Pascal said.

While he was growing up, Pascal, like kids across the country, kept his Hot Wheels in a cigar box. As he grew up, the cigar box gathered more dust, sitting on a shelf for 30 years until Pascal rediscovered the collection in 1999.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels The pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb is the most sought-after Hot Wheels car in the world. Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

"That excited feeling I had as a boy was rekindled instantly," said Pascal. "My friend offered to pay me $200 for the cigar box. I declined and held onto them, but it was his offer that made me start researching the value of Hot Wheels and pursuing collecting as an adult."

His search became a bit obsessive. Pascal began calling other collectors, taking out newspaper ads, and even used a 1969 telephone book of Mattel employees to see if any former workers had rare toys they would be willing to part with for a price. He collected everything he could, including Hot Wheels memorabilia like blueprints, original drawings, sales brochures, and wood models.

His collection grew from that cigar box to thousands of Hot Wheels. Yet Pascal was not satisfied. He still had not found the one Hot Wheels vehicle that was alluding him, the most valuable Volkswagen ever produced - the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb prototype.

The model was a bit of a folly. When VW and Hot Wheels initially created it, the car's narrow body and surf boards out the back window made the vehicle unable to stay upright when rolled. So, it was redesigned and the sides became more weighted and the surfboards were moved to the sides of the vehicle. This was the model that made it into production. The Beach Bomb was sold with a sticker sheet of flowers to decorate the vehicle, an offering that was very of its time.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels There are only two of the pink models in existence.Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The original prototypes with the surfboards out the back window are extremely rare, as only Hot Wheels employees had access to them. Of these prototypes, the pink ones are the rarest of all. There are only two known to be in existence.

"I already had heard about [the Beach Bomb] in purple, green, red, light blue and gold. I even had heard about an unpainted model," said Pascal. "But pink was extremely hard to find. Most Hot Wheels models were marketed to young boys, who the brand assumed didn't want to play with pink. They created just a few pink [Beach Bomb] models to market to their female audience."

Eventually, Pascal networked his way into purchasing both pink Beach Bombs models. He has since sold one of them to another friend and collector, but the one that is in the best condition has stayed with him.

Today, Pascal owns over 4,000 Hot Wheels models and about 3,000 pieces of memorabilia, but the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb remains his most prized possession.

"I won't say how much I purchased it for," said Pascal, "but it is worth an estimated $150,000 today."

To help prevent sun damage, the Beach Bomb remains in a dark, Plexiglass case. Pascal displays the model in his personal museum in Maryland, where he gives private tours to other Hot Wheels enthusiasts. He has also loaned the model out to other automotive museums and events for display.

"I want other people to experience the Beach Bomb. I've found so much joy in learning about classic cars and Hot Wheels, and I hope I can spark some of that in other people. It's a treasure to find these rare models," Pascal said.

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