Before McLaren was a huge operation based in England and a technological partner with the likes of Mercedes and Porsche, it was a racing car company founded and run by two blokes from New Zealand. Together they built some damn fine racing cars.
The Can-Am cars built and raced by Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme were so dominant people took to calling the no-limits racing series “The Bruce & Denny Show.” Only combined might of Mark Donohue and Roger Penske with full support from Porsche could unseat the two Kiwis and their mighty McLaren M1C.
Forty years later the M1C remains an amazing car, and now a German outfit is making spot-on replicas and selling them to people like us.
Can-Am (formally known as the Canadian-American Challenge Cup) was big in the late 1960s. It was an anything-goes environment with little in the way of technical regulations or rules. Two seats, enclosed wheels and basic safety equipment were pretty much the only requirements. It wasn’t unusual to see cars with huge wings, sucker motors, semi-automatic gearboxes and even titanium frames. The most unbelievable technology was thrown at the age-old question of “How can we make it go faster,” and the results were amazing.
McLaren was the first, and most dominant, team in Can-Am. The cars were always Kiwi orange — the national racing color of New Zealand — and usually powered by Chevrolet V8 engines (though some had Ford or even Oldsmobile mills). They started with the venerable small block but later pushed big-block engines to power and torque levels so extreme that even the seemingly fearless Hulme was once heard to say of the McLaren M8, “Maybe we got too much.”
The M1C was the last of the McLaren tube-frame cars before the team moved on to monocoques. It had a small-block engine outfitted with four 48 IDA carburetors. It cranked out 500 horsepower — an ungodly amount for a 355 cubic-inch engine in the late 60s. The engine was a stressed stressed member of the chassis. Out of the box the M1C offered jaw-dropping performance thanks to its overall weight of just under 600 kilos. McLaren built 25 M1Cs in 1966 and ‘67 and sold them as the McLaren Elva Mark III.
And now, an outfit in Germany called LMP Engineering is recreating this sweet car to highlight its knowledge of 3D-CAD hybrid modeling software, CAD/CAM production technologies, 3D-Tube laser cutting, 3D-machining, surface scanning. They’ve built one already and will produce others “for interested fans of the Can-Am racing series.”
The LMP replica is a stunning work of art, the kind of car you enjoy looking at as much as driving. We’ll take one. In Kiwi orange, of course.
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