Published: 15 Mar 2018

Gold - making formula one cars faster and safer

McLaren F1 car and use of gold

The world’s fastest cars were relentless in the pursuit of speed and were sacrificing space to ride like wild animals on the roads until the formula one car. To fulfil the need for speed, everything about a formula one car including the design and precise materials used, differ from any other car.

Now let us compare your car to a formula one car. They both have gearboxes, use internal combustion engines, have wheels, tyres, brakes and suspensions. So fundamentally, they are quite similar. However, Formula one cars aren't really designed for tooling around on the motorway.

One of the best Formula One car is the McLaren F1 car, born from the legendary Bruce McLaren’s racing team and only 106 McLarens were built over a period of six years. Therefore, they command a king’s ransom with such rarity and iconic status. Experts speculate that the selling price should be $10 million USD and upwards. When you think king, you think gold and that is exactly the exotic material used to line the engine bay of the McLaren F1.

The concept behind the McLaren was like any other high-performance car: high power and low weight. Gordan Murray, the chief engineer wanted this car to be the finest performance machine in the world. He achieved this through use of expensive high-tech materials like gold, fibre, titanium, kevlar and magnesium, accompanied by an unconventional design and the science of formula one.

McLaren F1’s engine bay contains 16 grams of gold. The F1 is tightly packed to keep low weight however, there is a lot of heat generated because the engine is in the middle and the heat is capable of melting things. The mid-mounted BMW S70/2 engine is contained in the McLaren F1's engine compartment and the exhaust compartment therefore uses gold foil as a heat shield. The 24-carat gold was not used to up the wealth statement of this king like car, but because it reflects heat and is considered the best material for deflecting heat deflecting. The gold foil is used in a certain parts between the fuel tank and the engine in a way that it can stop heat transfer from the engine to the fuel tank. Thereby making the car faster and safer.