Arizona | Lot 258

1966 McLaren M1B Can-Am

$220,000 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona

29 January 2016

Identification no.
  • One of only 28 McLaren M1Bs sold in the U.S.
  • Ground-up restoration by veteran marque experts
  • Eligible for 50th Anniversary Can-Am events

500+ bhp, 5.7-liter OHV Ford V-8 engine with four Weber carburetors, Hewland LG500 transaxle, independent front suspension with adjustable coil springs/shocks and sway bar, independent rear suspension with lower wishbone, trailing links, adjustable coil springs and sway bar, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 91 in.

Bruce McLaren was one of the most successful Formula 1 drivers of the 1960s, but his legacy endures as a race car designer. His cars won 20 World Championships and dominated the Can-Am series between 1967 and 1972, winning 56 races, many at his hands. McLaren also won three Indy 500s, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

In 1961, 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. The M1 had independent suspension with coil springs and widely spaced wishbones. The multi-tube chassis was light and rigid, with aluminum panels bonded to the sides, stressed floor, and bulkhead; the main tubes doubled as oil and water pipes.

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 percent 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, who prepared McLarens when they were imported by Carl Haas, 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 before it was taken to Rick Hamlin for final assembly to fit the new body to the chassis. Hamlin, owner of Rick’s Restoration in Wellington, Kansas, has 45 years of experience in historic auto restoration and is also a multiple Pebble Beach winner.

The engine, built by Pantera Performance of Castle Rock, Colorado, is a bored and stroked, dry-sump, 348–cubic inch, aluminum-block Ford V-8 fitted with period-correct Weber carburetors and Edelbrock aluminum heads. More than 500 brake horsepower is delivered through a three-disc Can-Am-style clutch to a Hewland LG500 transaxle, which was rebuilt by the Matthews Collection in Colorado and has two sets of gears. The original Airheart brakes have been replaced by Wilwood units, and the 30-gallon fuel cell has new foam. The total time on the chassis and engine for track set-up, dyno, and testing is approximately three hours.

This car’s restoration is documented and photographed, and a substantial collection of spare parts are included. While the car’s appearance is impeccable, it has been properly prepared to be competitive and safe on the track. Armed with a vintage log book, it is eligible for the 50th Anniversary Can-Am events through HCCA, as well as the 2016 Goodwood Revival and USRRC events.

Please consult an RM Sotheby’s specialist for a complete list of specifications as well as equipment and spares that are included with this lot.

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