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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1970
Numbers built:4
Designed by:Jo Marquart for McLaren
Predecessor:McLaren M8B Chevrolet
Successor:McLaren M8F Chevrolet
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:July 10, 2017
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn an incredibly short time Bruce McLaren had grown out from the youngest ever Grand Prix winner to a full fledged racing car manufacturer. The talented 'Kiwi' had joined the Cooper Works F1 team in the middle of 1959 and won the American Grand Prix not much later, just 22 years old. That record stood for over 40 years. He continued to serve as a Works racer for several seasons, but also developed an interest in sports car racing. In 1963 he purchased the Oldsmobile engined Cooper, better known as the 'Zerex Special' to race in the competitive and lucrative American sports car series. He continuously modified the car and eventually built a completely new spaceframe racer, dubbed the McLaren M1. It debuted in 1964 and was a staggering 3 seconds a lap faster around Goodwood. Needless to say, the McLaren attracted the attention of others and Bruce signed an agreement with Trojan/Elva to produce customer versions of the Oldsmobile engined racer.

By 1966, McLaren not only built sports racers, but also various single seaters, including a Formula 1 car. Thanks to the inception of the Canadian American Challenge, or Can-Am, started that year, the sports car business flourished. The M1 had been further developed, but the larger engined B-spec machine proved to be no match for the brand new Lola T70. The Group 7 class regulations these cars were built to, had very few limitations and the massive engines used, proved too much for the spaceframe chassis. The T70 on the other hand used a modern monocoque design that provided an abundance of rigidity with little to no weight penalty. Robin Herd was commissioned to help Bruce design the M1 replacement, dubbed the M6. Like the T70, it used an aluminium monocoque and a fiberglass body. Powered by a bored and stroked and fuel injected small-block Chevy V8, the new McLaren was more than a match for the competition and Bruce McLaren was crowned champion. The cars were painted that season in a very attractive 'pleasant' or 'papaya' orange, which would become the team's official colour.

While Trojan began the production of the M6B customer cars, the small McLaren engineers worked ferociously to keep the edge over the competition. The new for 1968 M8A was designed around the big block V8, which was to serve as a semi-stressed member, despite being cast completely from aluminium. The new engine produced a staggering 620 bhp as the Can-Am cars inched ever closer to the 1000 bhp/ton marque. One of the striking features of the Can-Am V8s were the huge intake trumpets, which greatly helped to smoothen out the power delivery. Like its predecessor, the M8A used independent suspension and vented discs all around. The fiberglass body was considerably wider to increase the aerodynamic performance and also to accommodate for the massive tires. Bruce McLaren was again joined by compatriot Denny Hulme, who piloted the second Works M8A to the championship. Together they won four of the six rounds that season, with the other two races won by customer McLarens. McLaren and Hulme also won a Formula 1 race each that season in the Cosworth engined McLaren M7.

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  Article Image gallery (37) M8D/1 Specifications User Comments (4)