The news of the day: the maintenance of McLaren F1s. This laptop is called Compaq LTE 5280 and derives from the early 1990s. It runs a bespoke CA card. McLaren Automotive still uses it and its DOS-based software to service the remaining hundred McLaren F1s, each priced at $10 million or more.
McLaren Special Operations workshop is in an industrial multiuse building, less than 5 minutes from their Technology and Production Center in England. It’s a building where McLaren used to work on its F1 racing efforts before deciding to give it a go against Ferrari.
Let’s focus on the most challenging part of their job: the maintenance of McLaren F1s.
McLaren built 106 F1s, 100 of which those still exist today. The world’s greatest supercar was first to use a carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, designed by Gordon Murray, Formula One legend, and powered by a BMW Motorsport V12 that makes it the fastest naturally aspirated street legal car ever made. That record is set six years after the car was launched.
McLaren is a deeply special machine, and always will be. It used the most advanced and expensive materials and parts to build the F1s, like gold and kevlar. Early ‘90s technology means they were also equipped with early ‘90s microchips, despite all those motorsport-grade cables. The 630 horsepower comes thanks to a collection of Bosch, Lucas and TAG bits.
What that old Compaq laptop was needed for and why is McLaren spending thousands of dollars on a specific version of the LTE 5280 laptop? Isn’t that just a piece of ancient history you could grab on eBay for some money?
The reason they need those specific Compaq laptops is that they run a bespoke CA card which installs into them, said an employee from MSO. The CA card is an interface between the laptop software and the car. They are now working on a new interface, fitting the modern laptops as they old Compaqs are becoming less consistent and even harder to find.
MSO’s team knows that they can only remain the most desirable modern supercars if they work on keeping them both functional and drivable and just as fast as they were back in 1992. McLaren F1s might be worth north of $13 million nowadays, until that new interface gets done, they’ll need this for the job.