Hooniverse Weekend Edition: 1971 McLaren M8FP

With the sad image of the TTTO Corvair on a hook going to its final resting place possibly forever burnished in my brain, this olelongrooffan thought we should attempt to lighten our hearts and take a look at another rear engine, rear drive, also powered by Chevrolet race car.

This one, while never being in contention for the IOE award, is certainly a good looking race car. 1972 was the final year the McLaren team raced in the Can-Am Series after having won it the previous five seasons.

A couple guys, namely Roger Penske and Mark Donohue, along with a fairly famous automobile company, Porsche, put together a challenge to the McLaren dominance and won the ’72 series. Rather than dump a bunch of money in turbocharging this car, the powers that be at McLaren decided to concentrate their efforts in Formula 1.

The engine in this race car is an 8.1 litre Chevrolet with an aluminum block sourced through sponsor Reynolds Aluminum.

The fins along each side of this car were engineered, along with the rear wing, after a rules change after the 1970 the season outlawed freestanding wings on struts at the rear of these race cars.

It definitely is an eye catching orange here in the bright Florida sunshine. The owner started it up as I was looking at some other cars nearby. I was startled and briefly thought there was an accident closeby due to the gears crunching together. Once he revved that baby up though, I knew what it was.

And I meandered off to see a whole bunch of other cool stuff but not before looking back at it and thinking that old race car possesses just beautiful lines when viewed from any direction.

As I was heading back up the street a little later, this olelongrooffan noticed the owners had been nice enough to remove the bodywork from the chassis of that McLaren so I could check it out and get some images of it for my fellow Hoons. Wasn’t that thoughtful of them?

I’m not sure of the back in the day racing provenance of this particular race car. However, based on the multitude of decals located in the passenger compartment and this one on the windscreen, this car has been around.

The aforementioned decals in that cockpit and check out the dryer vent sized tubes providing cooling air to the front discs!

As I mentioned this is a Chevrolet 8.1 litre putting out something like 740 bhp on a naturally aspirated engine! This particular car was mostly likely campaigned by Trojan Racing with McLaren factory assistance. The McLaren team’s cars had switched to inbound rear brakes in 1971.

Those rear tires measure a cool 17″ wide with just over 14″ hitting the street.

Those rear brakes require considerably smaller air vents than the discs out front.

That Bowtie engine was mated to a Hewland transaxle and I can only wonder at the imagination those engineers must have had to pull that one off, successfully might I add.

And those pods on each side of the cockpit? Those, my fellow Hoons, are fuel tanks. Yeah, back when racing was dangerous and sex was safe.

And after lusting after those McLaren doors, one would look absolutely beautiful on the wall of my Taj Mahal, and a wistful look back at that wonderful race car, this olelongrooffan headed off to check out some more cool shit.
more at bruce-mclaren.com

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  1. crinklesmith Avatar

    I saw a bunch of those Can Am and Trans Am cars running at the Coronado Festival of Speed in San Diego a few years ago. We were able to stand about 20 feet from the middle of the front straight, and I still tear up remembering the roar those big v8s made blasting past at WOT. Just an absolutely thunderous assault of sound. Many racecars sound good, but those big block Can Am cars are in another dimension.

  2. MadKaw Avatar

    I swear, no induction system looks more badass than mechanical injection with calliope stacks!

    1. dmilligan Avatar

      Yeah, that stack setup is killer.

  3. Sudden1 Avatar

    As a kind of irony, IIRC, Sport Car Graphic magazine had a cover picture and article about the time that Doug Roe's early model turbo Corvair beat a Group 7 McClaren…

  4. parkwood60 Avatar

    "That Bowtie engine was mated to a Hewland transaxle and I can only wonder at the imagination those engineers must have had to pull that one off, successfully might I add."
    I doubt it really takes much imagination when you are running in a money is no object series and can have Hewland or whomever just cast you a bell housing, or spec the bolt pattern on the back of the custom cast engine block to fit a readily available bell housing.

  5. muthalovin Avatar

    Trumpets! And orange! So awesome!