How Mr. Bean Crashed His McLaren F1 Twice And Still Sold It For Profit

Rowan Atkinson might have made a 10x profit when he sold his McLaren F1, but that wasn’t the real reason for the sale.

Celebrities and cars have always been an interesting combination. Taking someone who loves the spotlight and adding a flashy head-turning car is a recipe for success. Rowan Atkinson is famed for playing the calamitous comedy character Mr. Bean, but unfortunately for Atkinson, he has had his fair share of accidents off camera too.

He is a passionate car-lover, and in 1997, he got his hands on the iconic McLaren F1. Where Mr. Bean is known for driving a rinky-dink old Mini, Atkinson cruises the streets in one of the most legendary supercars of the past 25 years. He might have gotten carried away by the charm and insane performance of one of the most dramatic supercars ever made, as he has had more than one crash in it! Despite his brush with danger, Atkinson managed to come away from his accidents involving the McLaren relatively unscathed.

The actor finally sold the car in 2015 after owning it for 17 years and racking up 40,000 miles on it. Given Atkinson’s $150 million estimated net worth, the massive 10x plus appreciation on the value of the McLaren F1 couldn’t have been the motivation for the actor to sell it. Instead, the real reason the actor finally sold the car he’s named as his favorite out of all he’s owned is quite surprising!

Updated November 2022: We’ve updated this story with details from a recent interview where Rowan Atkinson reveals the McLaren F1 is still his favorite car, and why he sold it.

Rowan Atkinson Owning A Piece Of History

The McLaren F1 was built from 1992 to 1998 by the British car manufacturer. Its exclusivity meant only a handful of people have ever owned one, with a large portion of those being celebrities and entrepreneurs. Other well-known McLaren F1 owners include Jay Leno, Elon Musk, and Ralph Lauren. Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton is another famous McLaren F1 owner.

While he was best known for driving a Mini as Mr. Bean, Rowan Atkinson became a member of the exclusive McLaren F1 owners group in 1997. McLaren F1s were sold for anything up to $880,000 in 1997, but their value has shot up as time has gone by.

Only 106 McLaren F1s were made, with the car manufacturer focusing on quality over quantity. To McLaren, it was all about creating an insanely ahead-of-the-time car with the technology available. Thanks to the 6.1-liter V-12 engine, the F1 maxed out at 231 mph, though it was possible to increase this speed by removing the rev limiter.

Its three-seat interior meant that supercar drivers could share the experience with not one but two friends, something many others couldn’t offer. While Atkinson had to pay a lot of money for the car even by 1990s standards, the driving experience was surely worth it.

Selling The Two-Time Damaged McLaren F1 For Profit

There is no doubt that Atkinson had a ton of fun behind the wheel of his F1, but perhaps he enjoyed himself a little too much. The actor first crashed his McLaren in 1999 by rear-ending another vehicle which damaged the hood. Considering parts of the car were gold-plated, that repair bill must have been eye-watering, but it was nothing compared to another collision Atkinson had in 2011.

The British actor was fortunate to escape with relatively minor injuries after smashing into a tree and road sign. His F1 caught on fire, and Atkinson suffered a damaged shoulder in the incident. Despite the fire and damage to its bodywork, Atkinson managed to salvage his wreckage. The repair bill cost over $1 million, according to CNBC, which was more than the actor paid for the car in the first place.

After two driving incidents, Atkinson decided to say goodbye to his beloved McLaren in 2015. He sold it through a private dealership and is understood to have fetched $12.2 million for it.

Despite all the repairs on the F1 and the initial cost of just under $1 million, Atkinson sold it for a major profit. Most cars are worthless after such serious accidents, but because of their exclusivity, the F1’s value continues to grow.

You may be wondering if Atkinson finally sold his McLaren F1 because it got the better of him one time too many. But the real reason he decided to part ways with his favorite car is that the McLaren F1 just seemed to attract too much attention for the otherwise low-key actor. Apparently Atkinson preferred driving it around when not too many knew what it was actually worth. But once the McLaren had gone “from a millionaires’ car to a billionaires’ car”, he knew it was time to let it go.

Looking Back At The Iconic McLaren F1

The reason the F1 has such a cult status among gearheads is due to the attention to detail McLaren put into it. All the components barring the taillights were custom-made for the F1 with an obsession to drive the weight of the car down. No stone was left unturned in the quest for lightness, and the F1’s parts were made from carbon fiber, aluminum, or gold where possible.

The hype surrounding the F1’s build had been growing since the late 1980s, and when McLaren finally revealed what they had been working on in 1992, pulses were racing. The F1 was shown to the world at the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix, and would-be customers were quickly informed there would only be 100 made.

Its cost outweighed that of comparable Ferrari and Porsche supercars but anyone with over half a million dollars to burn wanted one. With a central driver’s seat, those behind the wheel had the best possible position to enjoy the ride. The McLaren F1 practically made a race driver out of its owners, and for that, people were willing to pay the big bucks.

With a 627 bhp engine to consider, McLaren plated the engine bay with gold to deflect the heat away from it. Upon release, the F1 was the fastest road car in the world and even by today’s supercar standards, the F1 is one of the fastest on the road.

Atkinson’s Love For Iconic Cars

There is no doubt that Rowan Atkinson is best known for his comedic role as Mr. Bean. He took his character from the small screen to the movies with the release of ‘Bean’ in 1997 and ‘Mr. Bean’s Holiday’ in 2007. The British actor has had further box-office success thanks to the Johnny English spoof spy franchise.

His success in the past has afforded him a car collection to be jealous of. Besides his F1, Atkinson owns a 1939 BMW 328, a 1977 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, a 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint, and a 2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead.

Credits: Connor Doyle / Hotcars

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