In 1966, a new form of racing started in the US and Canada. This was the famous Can-Am series, short for the Canadian-American Trophy. John Surtees won the first Can-Am title in a Lola T-70 in 1966 but after this, McLarens in the hands of Bruce McLaren himself and Denny Hulme, ruled the series. Like Lola, McLaren depended for financial survival on selling copies of its winning cars to private customers who would then go have fun in the series and if the leading cars broke, stand a chance of winning. The M8D, which preceded the "E" was the factory car of 1970. Featuring a monocoque "tub" or chassis, these cars had independent suspension front and rear with twin wishbone setup and angled shock absorbers inside coil-springs. The rear suspension comprised the classic British single upper link with reversed bottom wishbones and coil-spring/shock absorber units. Massive magnesium alloy uprights connected the wishbones and mounted the ventilated disc brake/caliper assemblies. A big-block Chevrolet engine with Reynolds aluminum block (for lightness), a Hewland LG 600 five-speed gearbox and glass reinforced plastic bodywork completed the missile. It was during this period that the use of down-force was beginning to be appreciated and the M8 series was not alone in featuring a sharply raked nose and a large rear wing to hold the car to the ground. Although this particular M8 E/F does not have its original McLaren chassis tag, which likely ended up on some mechanic's tool box, it is a genuine McLaren with continuous ownership history from new. The car's identity is thus 73CA-04, the number stamped into the original SCCA 1973 logbook when the first owner, Pete Sherman passed technical inspection at the Mosport Can-Am race on June 19, 1973. After Mosport, Sherman ran four more Can-Ams-Road Atlanta (14th), Mid Ohio (17th) and Road America (DNF), seemingly having "peaked early" with his Mosport result. In 1974, Jim Lockheart took over the M8 F and ran a half dozen SCCA Nationals and the 1974 Mid-Ohio Can-Am, according to the log book. By 1975, Larry Matteo bought the car and did four more nationals. The McLaren sat in Matteo's basement until purchased by Harley Cluxton in the late '70s via dealer Bill Kontes. (Billy Wonder remembers picking up the M8 F from Matteo and trucking it to Cluxton in Phoenix.) The McLaren then entered a period of California-based historic racing, ending-up with David Kopf, who sold it to the current owner. With a recent $40,000 overhaul of the tub, suspension and running gear, including a new Keith Black aluminum 509 CID, fuel-injected motor, he qualified the M8 F on the pole at Road Atlanta (1:22.192) and finished 3rd overall at the 1977 Road America Can-Am Reunion while turning a new lap record time of 2:12.93, an average speed of 108.325 mph.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1972 McLaren M8 E/F Can-Am
Years Produced:1970-73
Number Produced:approx. 12-15 (M8 E); 12-13 (M8 F)
Original List Price:$20,000 rolling chassis
SCM Valuation:N/A
Tune Up Cost:$500-$2000
Distributor Caps:$20 if fitted
Chassis Number Location:metal plate on tub near steering rack
Engine Number Location:right front of original Chevy block on top
Club Info:McLaren Club 11515 9th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98125
Alternatives:Shadow DN-2, Lola T-260

This car sold for $192,500 when it crossed the block at the RM Monterey Auction on August 27-28, 1999.
There is a funny truism about serious race machinery. If you want a car with glorious history you have to sacrifice a fair amount of originality. Any front-runner or works entry typically receives the latest modifications and any other massaging that will result in a podium finish. Not-so-well funded efforts usually can’t afford the latest bits and have to make do with what they’ve got. They also can’t afford a lot of spares, so they go more slowly and try to avoid crashing. That probably explains why this car has survived several seasons of racing; it was usually ten laps in arrears at the finish but a survivor nonetheless.
A Can-Am car that was also a winner in 1973 was the Porsche 917/30. By the time 1973 rolled around, the Can-Am series was in fact a Porsche 917/30 stranglehold. Team McLaren didn’t field a factory Can-Am effort after 1972 and didn’t run a “works” M8 of any flavor after 1970. Still if you wanted a new McLaren in 1973 and didn’t want to get in line for the three used M20s that they sold that year, an M8 E/F is what you got. The M8 series were good cars and were good enough to hold together even when they squeezed tons of horsepower out of their Chevies. Today in historic racing, few of the later M20s appear on the grid and even fewer Porsche 917s, hence the pole position for this M8 at the Can-Am reunion. A big block M8 with a more successful past and a few more spares (this car had only a spare set of wheels) is worth closer to $200K. This car sold for an appropriate price given its history, specs and spares.

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