Nice garage (McLaren F1) + interesting story about #69
About #69Pardon my newbie status here, Peloton or Mini Magic can attest to the fact that I have at least some idea of what I am talking about, but reading through some of the posts on chassis #69, there seems to be some questions as to the exact history of the car. Well, lucky for me, I had a chance to see that specific car as well as talk to the co owner (Paul Cherry). I posted an account of my experience with #69, as well as with Mr. Cherry and Fox Valley Motorcars on supercars.net sometime ago, but am fairly new to these forums. Anyhow, here is a summary of my experience with that car, as well as copied emails from my communication with the owner. As you will see, the owner was either misled, or misleading, and the disappearence of #69 (which is either sitting in a warehouse somewhere or is in Canada) is related to this car's bizarre and shady history that sounds almost like the shortened history of Cobra Daytona Coupe 2289 or the lost XK-SS:
I found the McLaren for sale in Hinsdale almost two years ago. I was originally looking for Lamborghinis (my mom's finace and I have started a small hobby of pretending to want certain cars, and going to the length to test drive them), which was why I was on the Fox Valley Motor Cars website. The car they had listed there was a Charcoal/black 1998 McLaren F1, chassis #69 (originally painted britlliant silver). It had both full tool sets and had only 1500 miles on the odo. The car was owned by Tom Wieringa and Paul Cherry (pictured below), the owner and former race program director (repsectively) of Sigma Auto Sport ( http://www.sigmaautosport.com/ ).
The car was purchased new, in May of 1998 by the chief account of a New York based publishing company with moeny that he had embezzeled by the company. While he was a criminal, he was smart enough to lock up the funds in solid investment to reduce the ability for it to be tracked, hence the McLaren. When he was caught, the car along with what ever else he had stolen was taken by the insurance company to be liquidated to pay the publisher the dmamages. The insurance company was smart enough to do some research on the car, so there was no deal to be had when Mr. Wieringa and Mr. Cherry bought the car, they paid full price (my guess, $1.2 million since the car was brand new and it was during the internet bubble). I found the car for sale for $1.6 million in mid December of 2000 at Fox Valley and decided to investigate, after all, a Lamborghini is nice, but a McLaren is far better, so set the ball rolling toward going to see the car (I wanted a test drive, but knew that was unlikely).
I had my mom's finace begin an email conversation with the dealership. As we soon learned, the car was not at the dealership, insurance costs would have been to high, but rather at Paul Cherry's home. To see the car, we would have to organize everything with Harry Osborne, the dealer, and Paul Cherry the owner. The dealership was only acting as an outlet to promote the car. To make our inquery seem realistic, I drafted a list of reasonable questions that would give the dealer (and owner) the preception that we were serious and knew what we were talking about (I know plenty about the McLaren, so this was no stretch). We went under the idea that the car was being bought as an investment, allowing us to be 'restrained buyers' with an easy out, should we find the investment a bad one (or if we were short on cash, which we certainly were). Here is the conversation that was made about the car, all taking place in the first two weeks of February:
I have some pertinent questions regarding this 1998 McLaren F1:
1) Was the vehicle imported under the DOT’s ‘Show and Display’ Law (August 13, 1999) or made US legal by an outfitter such as Ameritech? As I assume you understand, ‘show and display’ cars have a short leash attached to them, such as limited miles, use, and what not. The McLaren F1 was never manufactured US legal and I understand that the vehicle is here under government approval, but depending on what ‘approval’ this can limit usage on American roads.
2) What is the chassis number out of the 100 built (and 64 made road legal)? I understand that only 5 were 1998 models, however, I’m interested in the chassis number for the entire production run.
3) Aside from the LM body kit, does it have any other significant modifications, inside or out, such as the Kenwood 10-disc CD changer, or an intercom system? Also, has anything else changed since it left the factory (both service wise and upgrade/modification wise)
4) Are all service records with the car?
5) Are tool chests, both onboard and garage, with the vehicle?
6) Due to the legality surrounding passenger airbags in cars (which this vehicle most definitely lacks), are the passenger seats both in permanent housings or are they removable? Are the seat belts 3-point, 4-point or 5-point systems?
7) Is the flat undertray, as well as, front spoiler and rear diffuser all clean, with no rock chips or scrapes?
8) Have the headlights been modified at all for importation (as the stock headlights are not US legal)?
9) Is the onboard diagnostics system and modem connection in working order?
10) What was done to the McLaren (I assume in Woking, England) in the service on April, 2000, how many miles were on the car at the time of the service, and what is its pervious service record?
Given the nature of investment required for this vehicle, your reply is appreciated.
The response from Mr. Cherry:
Harry has asked me to reply to your Email and answer the questions...Ok hear goes.
1) The car was imported by me under a carnet whilst awaiting Show & Display approval, which has been granted. However as you rightly note there are some rules, most importantly maximum yearly mileage may not exceed 2500. Having said that there is a way of using it outside of these restrictions which I will be happy to explain to you should you wish to purchase the car. The only reason for selling this car is because we have a long tail being completed in the UK and will arrive in April.
2)This car is Number 69 (And all luggage is embossed with this also).71 was the last road car chassis.
3)The car has the full High Down force kit which is also referred to as LM kit, Larger OZ wheels As LM car) high capacity aircon,full embossed luggage together with the standard CD system made by Kenwood just for this car. It does not have intercom (Hey I can still hear my passengers at 185MPH).
4)All service books and manuals are with the car signed and dated.
5)The Facom tools are still in the correct cases together with the 4' toque wrench for the wheels.
6)The car has no air bags, the driver and passengers are equipped with point harnesses that meet FIA approval.
7)As of today there are no marks on the splitter or underwing or tunnels.
8) The lights are as factory fitted Zeon/Zeon
9)The onboard system is in full working order and the modem with all hardware is in the main Facom tool chest.
10) After purchasing the car from the previous owner , it was checked and oil changed together with road tested by a Mclaren engineer, at that point it had just 800 miles recorded, since that moment we have moved the miles up to 1450 , 3550 away from its first service!!
I hope this answers some of your quires ,
Paul F Cherry
The car seemed to check out, so we organized to see it on a cold, snowy Friday in February. We went to Fox Valley Motor Cars to rondevous Mr. Osborne, who drove us to Mr. Cherry's home in one of the dealership's Mercedes S-Class sedans. The home, in Oakbrook (hence your double counting of the same McLaren), was huge with a three car attached garage, 4 car double length garage with two lifts, and Cherry had recently purchased the house right next to him (which shared a driveway) for another 4 spots. The McLaren was held in the 4 car double length, a white, heated and heavily secured garage. The McLaren was on a lift, above a red 1967 Corvette Convertible, all behind a blue 2000 Corvette Convertible, and a Red 2000 Ferrari 360 Modena (aside from Jay Leno and J.B. Nethercutt, this was the most impressive private garage I have ever seen). Cherry had rooled out the garage tool kit and proceded to lower the McLaren (after moving the new Vette outside and the old one back). He opened the thing up and let us inspect the car and sit in it. I got to sit in the car (all three seats) handle the custom luggage set, and both tool sets. On a darker note, the we noticed that the windshield was cracked (no word on how that happened). Cherry started the car, revved the engine (can you say the strumming of an angles harp?) and described the insurance the car had (insured for $1.6 million at $35,000 a year, a special deal given to Mr. Wieringa who runs a trucking company and insures 200 trucks with the same company). We inquired about the price and Cherry told us it was firm, he would not go below $1.6 million (we would have bought it for $800,000 since we could have easily turned a good $50,000 profit on it), so we politely told him that under the condidtions, it would not be a profitable investment (remember, we were there for an investment, not a car). We figured that the inflated price of $1.6 million could never be gotten back, plus, insurance of at least $35K and the opportunity cost of not having that money in a risk-free money market fund (turning about $50,0000 a year interest) would entail making a minimum of $150,000 profit to make this worth while, and an ordinary road car is certainly not worth $1,750,000.
Only later did we learn the true history of the car. At the beginning of the following March, my mom's finace ran into Jay Leno after a comedy show and got to talking about the car. Leno had a lot of question, my mom's fiance couldn't answer them, so I sent Leno a letter based on what I had been told abou the conversation. Leno read the letter and called the factory to find out about the car for himself (McLaren keeps a full record on everyone of its cars, and being an owner, Leno had easy access). Leno quickly called me after calling the factory to tell me that the car had been illegally imported (so that Show and Display claim wasn't true) and that I shouldn't go through with purchasing the car unless we had a place in Canada (or anywhere outside the country) to store the car before the govt. could come and confiscate it. He also told me that the price was a rip off and that the windshield would probably be the most expensive piece of automotive glass you could buy (think $10,000+). This was the exchange that started my friendship with Leno and eventually led to my trip to his garage, so that charcoal McLaren holds a special place in my heart. After I learned this, I kept close track of the car on the website, and soon found that the car had dissappeared. I later inquired Fox Valley Motor Cars about what had happened to it, and all they had to say was that it was pulled off the market. I don't know where it is know, if Wieringa and Cherry ever did buy that uber-rare long tail (which was a race car, no a roadcar) or what happened to chassis #69.
Re: Nice garage (McLaren F1) + interesting story about #69
Interesting story, but I've always heard that chassis 69 was McLaren's own car that was on display in their showroom for many years (correct me if I'm wrong). It is silver with black interior (red inserts on driver seat). I read an article that they have it for sale for $2 million and it only has delivery miles on it.
Here are pictures of the one I took in the summer of 2002: