Page 1 of 2 Next >> Although still in his early 20s, Alain de Cadenet was an ambitious young man, who not only raced his own cars but also fielded them for even more talented drivers under the Ecurie Evergreen banner. During the 1969 season he competed in an ageing Ferrari 206 Dino S and later in the year also acquired an ex-works Porsche 908/02 Spyder to compete in international events. While this proved immediately successful in the hands of David Piper and Chris Craft, De Cadenet was already on the look out for an even more competitive machine.
He got in touch with McLaren with the request to build him a three-litre sports racer based on the all-conquering Can-Am cars and powered by the readily available Ford-Cosworth DFV engine. Bruce McLaren recognised this request as a possibility to expand into the lucrative European market and agreed to supply a car. Like all the customer cars, the McLaren sold to De Cadenet was actually built by Trojan. With the Can-Am cars not needed until the late summer, the project used the very first chassis of the run of the new-for-1970 M8C production cars.
Although its name suggests, that the M8C was based on the 1968 and 1969 Can-Am winning M8s, the aluminium chassis was far from identical. The most significant difference was the use of pontoon-like extensions to house the engine, whereas the works cars were designed to use the big-block Chevrolet V8 engine as a fully stressed member. The chassis extensions on the M8C gave customers a broader choice of engines, which certainly made it a lot easier to install the Cosworth DFV engine without requiring a substantial redesign of the chassis.
It was decided to build the chassis from slightly thinner, 20-gauge aluminium sheet as the car would not have to deal with the tremendous torque generated by the big American V8s. This also helped reduce the weight of what was already a relatively big and heavy machine. Although lighter brakes were available, the Can-Am specification system was fitted with an eye on durability in the long distance races. While the car was constructed at Trojan, McLaren kept close tabs on the progress with McLaren's Harry Pearce coming over an extra day per week. Page 1 of 2 Next >>