With the BPR Global GT Series reformed into the FIA GT Championship in 1997, rules regarding the cars used in the premier GT1 class were altered. Homologation specials like the Porsche 911 GT1 had already proven their worth in the final races of 1996, while newcomer Mercedes-Benz was showing the potential of their new CLK-GTR in testing. McLaren was therefore forced to give the F1 extensive modification in order to be able to compete against cars which had been meant as race cars first, and not road cars like the F1.

First and foremost, the F1 required extensive modification to its bodywork in order to gain as much aerodynamic downforce as possible. Although it retained the same carbon fibre monocoque as the road car, the entire exterior of the car was purpose built. A much longer nose and tail, as well as a wider rear wing, were designed in order to maximize the amount of aerodynamic downforce, while the wheel arches were widened in order to allow for the maximum amount of grip from the tyres allowed by the rules. Ground clearance was also changed to 70 millimetres (2.76 in) front and rear, rather than the 60 millimetres (2.36 in) front and 80 millimetres (3.15 in) rear clearance of the 1996-spec car.

The engine also saw extensive modification, with a stroke reduction bringing the BMW S70 V12 down to 5,990 cubic centimetres (366 cu in) in an attempt to prolong the life of the engines, while still maintaining the air restrictor-controlled 600 brake horsepower (447 kW). The stock gearbox was replaced with a new X-trac 6-speed sequential transmission.

A total of ten more GTRs were built, with none of the previous cars being upgraded to the 1997-spec. In order to be allowed to construct cars that were so radically different from the F1 road car, McLaren was forced to build production cars using the GTR ‘97's bodywork. These cars became known as the F1 GT, of which only three were built. The 1997-spec cars are commonly referred to as the “Long Tail” version due to their stretched bodywork, most noticeably in the rear.

At Le Mans 1997, the car reached 317 kilometres per hour (196.97 mph) on the Mulsanne straight. This was still slightly slower than some of the field (Porsche 911 GT1 Evo - 326 kilometres per hour (202.57 mph), Nissan R390 GT1 - 319 kilometres per hour (198.22 mph), TWR Porsche Joest LMP - 320 kilometres per hour (198.84 mph).

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And today we have the long tail GTR. What a beautiful car this is in both street and racing livery. This rare bird has been captured pretty well by Kyosho. All the hall marks have been covered here paint proportions details and graphics. I absolutely love these cars and am happy to have them in the McLaren collection.

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P.S.