McLaren Unveils Le Mans Edition 720S To Celebrate 1995 Win
Alongside Audi’s first victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 20 years ago today, on that same weekend five years earlier, McLaren took its only overall victory to-date at the French endurance classic with the F1 GTR.
The Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing entry – race prepared and run by Lanzante Motorsport – was the first of four McLarens home inside the top five at a fortuitously wet 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans. As well as emulating company founder Bruce’s own event win in 1966, JJ Lehto and Masanori Sekiya became the first Finnish and Japanese drivers respectively to win outright at Le Mans, while teammate Yannick Dalmas took his third of an eventual four wins at La Sarthe, impressively, with four different manufacturers (’92, Peugeot; ’94, Porsche; ’95, McLaren; ’99, BMW).
To celebrate its biggest endurance race win to-date, McLaren has unveiled a special edition version of its 720S Coupé, albeit one that focuses on the cosmetics. While I’m sure we’d love to see a ’95-era 600bhp BMW 6-litre V12 mounted mid-ship in this particular homage, each 720S Le Mans Edition will retain the 4-litre ‘M840T’ twin-turbocharged V8, each chucking 720PS (710bhp) and 770Nm (568lb ft) to the rear wheels via a seven-speed SSG transmission.
Taking its Sports Super model to “to a new level of exclusivity”, the Le Mans Edition features a choice of two bespoke colour schemes – McLaren Orange or Sarthe Grey – each of which is complimented by ‘Ueno Grey’ paint on the lower flanks, rear bumper, and lower portion of the front bumper in homage to the ’95 winners’ principal sponsor.
Each special edition is also kitted out with unique five-spoke LM wheels, complete with “Le Mans etching” and behind which you’ll gold-coloured brake calipers. Gloss black body components, including the fully functional roof scoop, complete the look.
Inside, and to match the McLaren 25 anniversary Le Mans’ logo just in front of the rear wheels, the same decal adorns the floor mats and the headrests of the new carbon fibre racing seats. There’s also a dedication plate on the dashboard, the Alcantara of which can be finished in McLaren Orange or Dove Grey that’s also matched by the ’12 o’clock’ notch on the steering wheel.
In a neat touch, each VIN number for the 50 special edition models to be completed (why Woking didn’t up this to 59 to commemorate Kokusai Kaihatsu’s winning race number is unknown) will begin with ‘298’, a nod to the 298 laps completed by Lehto, Sekiya and Dalmas en-route to victory.
For the 16 of those 50 heading to Europe, McLaren is asking customers to fork over £254,500 (around $316 USD), or around £40K (or $50 USD) more than the ‘standard’ 720S. Which is odd. You’d think for a special edition paying tribute to the Ueno Clinic-sponsored original, McLaren would have taken a snip off the price…
*Images courtesy of McLaren Automotive