It hasn’t aged a bit.
While the name Longtail may sound like a rare bird, it was a term coined by the chaps at McLaren when they needed to give a name to the completely reworked McLaren F1 GTR. The original F1 GTR made it’s debut in 1995 and for that year it was king of the track, racking up poles and wins, even taking the prestigious top spot at that year’s LeMans. This spurred the competition on and in the following season the McLaren fought hard but didn’t manage to replicate its inaugural season’s success.
To return to winning ways, big changes needed to be done, especially with rival teams taking the rules to the limits. The redesigned bits on the car gave it more downforce enabling it to eat up corners at a much higher rate. McLaren engineers were calling the car the F1 GT, but it soon adopted the name Longtail name we know and love today. It’s pretty easy to see why with the redesigned tail extending much further back. While this was easy to get away with on track, according to the rules a streetcar needed to exist too, but luckily the LT kept the original F1 underpinnings.
We were determined to do it all precisely to the letter of the regulations, in the spirit that their original authors had plainly intended,” reminisced chief designer, Gordon Murray. The first competition version of the Longtail, chassis 19R, was finished on 18 November 1996 along with three versions. Race teams took delivery at the start of ’97 to compete in the final two seasons of McLaren’s campaign in FIA GTC. Nine more Longtails were built which includes chassis 20R that was given to the Gulf-Davidoff GTC Motorsport team who took the car to a second place on the podium at Le Mans in 1997. This spectacular car is back in the hands of McLaren and is on show at the McLaren Technology Center in Woking, UK.