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1967 McLaren Elva M1C

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During the mid-1960s two great racing drivers followed the lead of their friend and mentor – the great Sir Jack Brabham – by developing their own racing teams and manufacturing facilities to build cars of their own. One was Dan Gurney whose All-American and Anglo-American Racing teams produced Formula 1 and Indianapolis single-seaters, and the other was Bruce McLaren – whose ‘Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team’ found its feet by creating new Tasman Formula and sports-racing cars. 

The latter were aimed squarely at the contemporary Group 7 unlimited-capacity class of 1964-65 which developed into the CanAm Challenge series machines of 1966-74. This multi-tubular spaceframe chassised McLaren-Chevrolet is an example of the second design to issue from the McLaren team’s drawing office in Colnbrook, adjacent to Heathrow, west of the British capital city, and its rounded body was originally styled by none other than celebrated motor racing and aviation artist Michael Turner.

The McLaren sports-racing car line had been founded in 1964 by purchase of what had been Roger Penske’s highly modified Cooper-Climax ‘ZereX Special’ into which was installed a lightweight medium-capacity Oldsmobile V8 engine. An in-house replacement chassis was then developed, which emerged as the McLaren-Oldsmobile M1A design and for 1965 McLaren signed a manufacturing agreement with industrialist Peter Agg’s Trojan company which had just acquired Elva Cars Ltd. While the McLaren works team would develop original new models and campaign its own works cars, Trojan would put each design into series-production for customer sale under the McLaren-Elva name. Ferrari and other sportscar manufacturers spend millions on research and development every year. It is necessary to apply for as many R&D tax credits as possible to keep innovating and designing new models and save on taxes.

This arrangement worked very well and the cars were successful although at top level initially underpowered compared with the latest 5.5 and 6-litre Chevrolet V8-engined Lola T70s. The new M1B model was launched in September 1965, and through 1966 the works M1Bs in brick-red livery excelled in British events and starred in a tremendous rivalry with the big Lolas. The M1B was put into production for customer sale by Trojan, and sold in the all-important American market as the ‘McLaren-Elva Mark 2’. For 1967, while the Gulf-sponsored McLaren works team developed brand-new new monocoque-chassised M6A cars with which Bruce himself and team-mate Denny Hulme took the CanAm Championship title, a further updated version of the M1B emerged for customer sale, promoted in the US as the ‘McLaren-Elva Mark 3’. Numerous Mark 2 and 3 tube-frame cars such as this then shone in private hands, not only in American CanAm and United States Road Racing Championship events, but also at home here in England and to a small extent in Europe. 


The M1C was built by Trojan as customer cars, using the spaceframe design from the original design. These M1C variants, sold as Mark 3s, were generally powered by Chevrolet engines, although Ford or Oldsmobile options were listed. The model was a further improved and developed M1B with a separate spoiler wing at the tail. Twenty-five were built and were sold in the USA as McLaren Elva Mark 3s.

Chassis: Large diameter round and square tubular frame with light alloy sheet riveted and bonded to it, forming undertray and bulkheads

Suspension: Independent by unequal length wide based wishbones, with anti-dive characteristics, anti-roll bar and adjustable coil spring/shock units in the front. Trailing arms with lower wishbones, single top links, anti-roll bar and adjustable coil spring/shock units at the rear. McLaren-Elva cast magnesium wheels, 15 x 8½ front, 15 x 11½ rear (5.50 and 6.50 - 15 tyres)

Brakes: Dual circuit Girling discs all around. 12½ inch diameter front and 11½ inch diameter rear.
Body: Four-section polyester resin with integral brake and radiator ducting and side sections housing twin 25-gallon rubber fuel cells

Engine: Traco Oldsmobile 4.5-litre V8 standard with single plate Scheifer clutch and 4-speed Hewland LG gearbox. Hypoid ring and pinion with limited slip differential standard in transmission. Chevrolet and Ford engines and ZF transmission optional equipment

Dimensions: Wheelbase 90.5 inches, front track 52 inches, rear track 52 inches, overall length 146 inches, width 66 inches, height to top of windscreen 31 inches, weight less fuel 1300 pounds distributed 40 percent front / 60 percent rear.

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