Big things with little cars

Mystery McLaren Monday: The curious case of the short long tail

Team Davidoff ran a team of Gulf-liveried McLaren F1 GTRs at Le Mans in 1997. This was a golden time in sports car racing, as the GT1s were coming to their full potential, and the proper prototypes were still on the grid, though their days were numbered. The #41 McLaren achieved second place overall, behind only the magical TWR-Porsche WSC-95, a car that could trace its roots to the evergreen 956/962.

ACO GT1 placards, correct number and graphics... this is clearly the 1997 Le Mans entry. But something is missing... below is pictured the #41 Davidoff/Gulf GTR at Le Mans in 1997 (photo from


Note the extra bit at the back. Now look at the model again:

Hmmmmm. No long tail. Thus, this is a car that did not exist as shown.


Normally I would hate this little detail, and would not spend my own money on this. So I didn’t. I found this little thing upside down in the dirt at Laguna Seca some years back. I looked around for a distraught little boy or girl who likely (sadly) dropped their new toy, to no avail. So I ended up with an F1 in Gulf Livery, which correct or not could be worse. It’s by High Speed, approximately 1:43, and other than not being a long tail is not bad for a cheapie little toy. The wheelbase is a little funny, the wheels are heavily inset, the rear wing is a bit cattywampus, and the rollcage appears to use 6" OD tubing, but other than that, it’s pretty good. I’ll probably let my kids give it a little patina, for that battle-worn look, and find myself a properly nice 1:43 of the real car, because that’s one I need in my life.

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