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  McLaren M6B 'McLeagle' Ford
 

  Article Image gallery (16) Chassis (1) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1968
Numbers built:One-Off
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 08, 2013
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Click here to download printer friendly versionHaving raced against McLarens in the first two seasons of the Can-Am championship in increasingly uncompetitive Lolas, Californian Dan Gurney switched 'sides' in 1968 by acquiring a customer M6B. This was effectively a one-year old design and to be really competitive Gurney knew that car could not be raced as it was delivered. So before the season, he had his company All American Racers (AAR) upgrade the M6B. AAR was best known for building and racing the Eagle single seaters, and accordingly, Gurney's new M6B was quickly nick-named the 'McLeagle'.

Retaining the McLaren's aluminium monocoque chassis, the AAR engineers initially focused on the front and rear suspension. They used the knowledge gathered by building the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix winning Eagle, which used a plethora of exotic metals, the engineers recreated many of the suspension in titanium. The geometry was also slightly adjusted. Gurney maintained his allegiance to Ford by equipping the M6B with a small-block V8. This was stretched to its limits in displacement and fitted with the latest aluminium heads developed for Gurney by Weslake in England.

Gurney debuted the modified M6B at round two of the Canadian-American Challenge Cup at Bridgehampton. Once again the McLaren factory team were favourites for the title, running hugely powerful big-block Chevrolet V8s in 1968. Gurney did well to qualify sixth and he also finished sixth. His team-mate Swede Savage placed fourth, running a Ford-engined Lola T160. Development work continued, now focusing mainly on the aerodynamics with an eye on reducing drag. Sadly, the results did not reflect the work done and Gurney retired twice before handing the car to Savage for the final two rounds, who could do no better than eighth.

Now fitted with high downforce wings, the lightweight McLeagle was back in 1969 and with Gurney himself at the wheel. As Ford could not supply AAR with a suitable big-block engine, the M6B was still fitted with a relatively small V8, which effectively rendered all pre-season modifications moot. Following several more disappointing results, Gurney reluctantly re-engined the chassis with the superior big block V8 for the final three rounds of the 1969. The engine switch was not instantly awarded as an oil leak and a blown piston respectively ended the first two prematurely. At Riverside, however, Gurney concluded the season with a well-deserved fourth.

After two fruitless seasons, the 'McLeagle' project was abandoned. Gurney later explained to author Pete Lyons that they never managed to get the car to handle quite right despite the best efforts. For the 1970 season, Gurney joined the works team to replace Bruce McLaren after his fatal crash. Still fitted with a Chevrolet engine, the ex-AAR McLaren M6B continued to be raced by privateers well into the 1972 season.

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  Article Image gallery (16) Chassis (1) Specifications