McLaren 720S Le Mans Celebrates 25 Years Since Famous 24 Hour Win

Automotive News 16 June 17, 2020 by

McLaren has revealed a limited edition model of the 720S supercar, to celebrate a quarter of a century since a rather unusual and remarkable feat. Known as the 720S Le Mans, it marks McLaren’s win at the famous 24 hour race, at its first attempt, in a car that wasn’t even in the top category.

The race ran from 17-18 June 1995, so today would be 25 years since the race start. McLaren ran a gaggle of F1 GTRs, adapted from the original 1991 F1 road car for the race track. The adaptations more or less ran to the addition of a roll cage, extra ducts for cooling, and a detuned engine — from 627hp down to 600hp — to suit class requirements.

In terms of raw pace, the F1 was outclassed. Sitting in the LMGT1 class, several top-class WSC cars outqualified the best-placed F1, as did three Ferrari F40s. The ninth place #59 F1 was some 11 seconds away from pole position. However on one of the wettest, and slowest, Le Mans races ever recorded, the F1 achieved not only an overall win — ahead of a WSC prototype Courage — but a 1-3-4-5 result for its four cars.

The 720S Le Mans commemorates that famous result. McLaren will only build 50 cars in total, and it’s littered with references to the event. That starts with the most obvious exterior paint scheme, which is McLaren Orange or Sarthe Grey, over a lower Ueno Grey section — named for the cosmetic surgery clinic which sponsored the winning car.

There’s a few other exterior touches too. At the front you’ll find carbon fiber louvers over the front fenders, matching the F1 GTR’s design and reducing front-end lift. There’s also a fully functional roof scoop, feeding through the polycarbonate rear screen to provide additional engine cooling.

It’s difficult to miss the five-spoke wheels, which are also a nod to the original OZ items on the race-winning #59. They’re unique to the 720S LM, and feature “Le Mans” etching. Look behind them and you’ll see gold-colored brake calipers, just like the 1995 car.

In the cabin you get a choice of two custom themes, with black Alcantara accented with McLaren Orange or Dove Grey. The seats are upgraded carbon fiber items from the regular 720S options list, but feature embroidered headrests with the McLaren 25 Anniversary Le Mans logo. You’ll find that logo spread around the cabin, as well as on the exterior.

When it comes to more subtle nods, McLaren has it covered. The VIN for each of the 50 cars will start with the numbers 298. That’s because the winning car covered 298 laps of the Circuit de la Sarthe back in 1995.

One thing owners will be glad that McLaren hasn’t replicated is the power drop. The 720S Le Mans retains the 710hp output of the standard 720S, and performance is unchanged. 60mph comes up in 2.7 seconds, with a 212mph top speed possible. Although the regular F1 is much quicker, the F1 GTR managed just 174mph at Le Mans.

Of course with the McLaren Special Operations (MSO) program, you can further customize your 720S LM should you so wish. There’s additional option packs available if necessary, from visual changes to items like six-point harnesses to really drive the race car image home. You can also head to the Bespoke department to make whatever personalization features you wish.

If you fancy picking up one of the 50 cars, they’re available to order now and start at around $320,000 (£254,500). First deliveries will take place in September.

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