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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1968
Numbers built:26
Designed by:Robin Herd and Gordon Cuppock
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 10, 2018
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThe immediately popular and highly lucrative Canadian-American Challenge, or Can-Am, came one season too late for the McLaren M1. Originally designed in 1964, the company's first sports car was clearly outdated compared to the Lola T70 with its monocoque chassis. The McLaren built examples of the spaceframe M1 scored various podium finishes in the 1966 season, but no victories. There was great commercial success for McLaren though as many Can-Am privateers bought examples of the Elva built M1 customer cars.

Bruce McLaren knew what was needed to be competitive in 1967, but he had to balance his time and resources between Formula 1 and Can-Am. In the end there were just 11 weeks available to design and build two new McLarens and have sufficient time left to test the cars before the start of the Can-Am season in September. In charge of putting Bruce McLaren's ideas to paper was young designer Robin Herd, who was assisted by Gordon Coppuck. They had the daunting task of designing McLaren's very first monocoque sports racer.

Bettering the Lola T70 was needless to say the top priority. Herd and Coppuck however also tried to keep things as simple as possible for ease of maintenance as well as to have option of selling a customer version. A mix of aluminium and magnesium was used for the monocoque, which stretched from the front suspension to the rear wheels. Suspension was by top links with radius arms and lower wishbones at the front, and top links, lower wishbones and trailing links at the rear. Stopping power was provided by solid Girling dis brakes.

Mounted amidships behind the driver was a heavily modified version of Chevrolet's popular small-block V8. Years of racing had turned the engine into a real fire-breather, offering a stunning power to weight ratio. The version fitted in the McLaren displaced just under six litre and sported a Lucas Fuel Injection system, which helped boost power to in excess of 500 bhp. The engines were built by McLaren themselves to ensure every unit was up to their specification. The McLaren/Chevrolet V8 was bolted to a five speed Hewland gearbox.

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  Article Image gallery (69) Chassis (2) Specifications User Comments (1)