Page 1 of 2 Next >> Having finally sourced a competitive engine, McLaren could ready a serious Formula 1 effort for the 1968 season, after struggling for two seasons with exotic Ford and Serenissima V8s and BRM's V12 that had actually been designed for sports cars. The new engine was the Ford Cosworth V8, used exclusively in 1967 by Team Lotus, which was now also made available to McLaren and Matra.
Developed specifically for the new-for-1966 '3-litre' regulations, the DFV engine could be used as a fully stressed member of the chassis. This meant that the chassis only needed to hold the front suspension, fuel tank and driver. The engine was bolted directly to the bulkhead behind the driver and together with the gearbox shared the load of the rear suspension. With only half the chassis needed of a conventional design, the DFV powered Formula 1 cars were de facto lighter than the competition.
Responsible for the design of the new 'M7', or 'M7A' McLaren was Robin Herd, who had also penned the 1967 Can-Am winning 'M6' together with Bruce McLaren. He laid down a simple 'bathtub' style monocoque, unlike the DFV powered Lotus 49, which used a fully enclosed monocoque. Constructed from aluminium sheets, the chassis featured three steel bulkheads for additional rigidity. The rubber fuel tanks were housed inside the chassis, and fitted on either side of the driver.
Before the design was completed, Herd left to join Cosworth where he was tasked to design the engine builders first complete car. With guidance from Bruce McLaren, Gordon Coppuck was assigned to continue the work, particularly on the suspension. The end result was a conventional car but with some subtle novelties like the sports car inspired radiator exits on the nose that diverted the heat away from the chassis and driver, and the relocation of the oil tank and cooler to the rear of the car for a better weight balance. Page 1 of 2 Next >>