The car features numerous proprietary designs and technologies; it was designed and built with no compromises to the original design concept laid out by Gordon Murray. It is lighter and has a more streamlined structure than even most of its modern rivals and competitors despite having one seat more than most similar sports cars, with the driver's seat located in the middle (and slightly forward of the passengers seating position providing excellent driving visibility). It features a powerful engine and is somewhat track oriented, but not to the degree that it compromises everyday usability and comfort. It was conceived as an exercise in creating what its designers hoped would be considered the ultimate road car. Despite not having been designed as a track machine, a modified race car edition of the vehicle won several races, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995, where it faced purpose-built prototype race cars. Production began in 1992 and ended in 1998. In all, 106 cars were manufactured, with some variations in the design.
In 1994, the British car magazine AutoCar stated in a road test regarding the McLaren F1, "The McLaren F1 is the finest driving machine yet built for the public road." and that "The F1 will be remembered as one of the great events in the history of the car, and it may possibly be the fastest production road car the world will ever see.".