1966 McLaren M1B Can-Am

1966 McLaren M1B Can-Am
Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

In 1961, Bruce McLaren applied his design skills to the M1 sports racer, developed at the same time as the Lola T70. The two mid-engine cars would fiercely contest the new Canadian-American race series.

McLaren launched the M1 at the Mosport Grand Prix for sports cars in September 1964, where he led the race until throttle problems dropped him to 3rd. McLaren contested the rest of the season, and the car attracted customers. The first customer car was delivered in 1965, and Graham Hill won at Silverstone. Meanwhile engineer Robin Herd designed the M1B, with Tyler Alexander and Michael Turner. The chassis weighed the same but was 20% stronger. Eventually, 28 M1Bs were built for the American market.

This project began in 2008, when the owner purchased an M1B chassis to restore. He was then fortunate to locate and hire Bill Moir in Oregon to help reconstruct the car. Moir determined that the chassis had a few usable parts, though the balance was not sound for racing. The original parts retained were the steering rack, rear axles, transaxle and the left-hand fuel cell (which was sent to Aerotech Services for refurbishing). He then spent four years building the car.

The engine, built by Pantera Performance of Castle Rock, CO, is a bored-and-stroked, dry-sump, 348-cubic-inch, aluminum-block Ford V8 fitted with period-correct Weber carburetors and Edelbrock aluminum heads. The original Airheart brakes have been replaced by Wilwood units. The total time on the chassis and engine for track setup, dyno and testing is approximately three hours.

Thor Thorson

SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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