HomeCar CultureLifestyleSeven-figure McLaren P1 crossing block to benefit a college

Seven-figure McLaren P1 crossing block to benefit a college


McLaren P1 being sold to underwrite an academic chair at Rose-Hulman technical college | Gooding & Co. photos by Mark Hardymon
McLaren P1 being sold to underwrite an academic chair at Rose-Hulman technical college | Gooding & Co. photos by Mark Hardymon

A specially commissioned 2015 McLaren P1, the British supercar-maker’s hybrid technology showpiece, will be sold without reserve at Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island auction to benefit the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. If the car sells for its pre-auction estimated value, it will mean somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million to $2.3 million for the Terre Haute, Indiana-based college.

Such generosity among collector car owners is to be praised, and is not all that unusual. Many auctions feature cars sold for charities — Barrett-Jackson alone does several million a year in such sales —  though not often to benefit colleges.

Last year, a car collecting benefactor sold a 1929 Duesenberg Model J “Disappearing Top” convertible coupe at RM Sotheby’s Motor City auction in Michigan with the $1.54 million going to Hillsdale College, a fiercely independent and highly regarded liberal arts school in Michigan.

Car wears special 'Professor 2 Blue' color
Car wears special ‘Professor 2 Blue’ color

According to Gooding & Company, the consignor of the McLaren P1 decided in 2013 to undertake such a project, buying and driving the car for a couple of years before donating the proceeds from its sale to his alma mater.

Gooding notes that U.S. News & World Reports annually rates Rose-Hulman as the nation’s top school in undergraduate engineering education. The money from the McLaren’s sale will establish a department chair at the college. Rose-Hulman was founded in 1874 as Rose Polytechnic Institute. The name was changed after significant financial support from the Hulman family (as in Tony Hulman of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and has an enrollment of around 2,175 undergrads and 100 graduate students in science, engineering and mathematics.

McLaren’s design team became involved with the project, creating the Professor 2 Blue color and metallic graining for the car, which also has special red accent stripes, unique matte black and silver wheels and McLaren badging.

The car was built with specially molded seats with upholstery inspired by the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona. Although McLaren usually doesn’t include a vanity mirror on the passenger side, this car has one, etched with a message for the original owner’s wife, “You look beautiful.”

Both designer Frank Stephenson and McLaren chief executive Ron Dennis signed the car before it was delivered. Delivery was done through the McLaren dealership in Philadelphia, where the consignor allowed the dealership to display the car provided that anyone younger than 12 was allowed to try out the McLaren’s seats.


The accelerator pedal of a P1 has been characterized as a hyperspace button,”

— Gooding & Co.


Only 375 P1s were built. The car has a twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter V8 engine plus a 176-horsepower electric motor, seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle, carbon-ceramic brakes and active hydropneumatic front and rear suspension, and specially created Pirelli tires. The powertrain is tuned so the electric motor supplies torque during the milliseconds between gear shifts and while the turbos are spooling up. The result is sensational power to take full advantage of the downforce provided by the active real spoiler and exhaust-activated rear diffuser.

Basically, the P1 is a road-legal Formula One car with a passenger seat.

“The accelerator pedal of a P1 has been characterized as a hyperspace button,” Gooding & Company notes in its auction catalog.

The car goes to auction with less than 1,200 miles on its odometer.

“Gooding & Company is proud to bring this truly magnificent automobile to market, and its sale represents the final page in an ambitious plan to further improve a leading 143-year-old engineering institution.”

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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