The Racy M1B Married Chevrolet Muscle and McLaren Design
These days, the world-beating street and track cars hailing from McLaren are fully in-house built machines. The storied British automaker not only designs the bodies, but also the chassis, the running gear, and crucially—the engines, a myriad of modern turbocharged V8s. This hasn’t always been the case though, as seen here. This stunning sports car is a 1966 McLaren M1B, a race car purpose-built for competing in Group 7 racing, most famously in the legendary Can-Am series. While its body is a McLaren design, penned by artist Michael Turner and built by Trojan, its engine is Chevrolet… and quite potent too, cranking out in excess of 500 horsepower. A rarity in its day, this historic McLaren-Chevrolet M1B is coming to market once again, crossing the auction block at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK, and expected to fetch top dollars for its pedigree. RELATED: See More of the '66 McLaren-Chevrolet M1B
The M1B was McLaren’s debut entry into the inaugural 1966 Can-Am championship (Canadian-American Challenge Cup), and a rebodied version of 1965’s McLaren-Elva M1A sports car. Underneath, the roadster featured the same McLaren designed tubular space frame and standard Oldsmobile powerplant, however the handsome, finely proportioned body was all-new.
28 cars are said to have been built in total; it was up to the customer to decide which engine would be outfitted—the smaller Oldsmobile V8 or larger yet heavier “big block” V8s from Ford and Chevrolet.
This car, originally purchased by Pacesetter Homes owner John Klug, was fitted with the larger 6.0-liter Chevrolet V8, and campaigned for 1966 by famed racer Masten Gregory, who at the time had just won at Le Mans in 1965 in a Ferrari. Unfortunately, Gregory didn’t have the best season and this McLaren-Chevrolet M1B tallied a few non-finishes.
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The two “works” M1B cars, piloted by teammates Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, finished the season a bit better, tallying a 2-3 finish in the Can-Am opening round, followed by another 2nd and 3rd at Bridgehampton, a 3rd and 4th at Mosport Park, and a 2nd place for Bruce in the final round in Las Vegas. McLaren’s racing outfit would win the Can-Am championship five years straight from 1967 through 1971.
Today, this #88 McLaren M1B is said to be in fine condition, with great care taken to preserve its originality and racing history, without a full concours-level restoration. According to the Bonhams auction house, its expected to gavel for upwards of $410,000.
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Photo Credit: Bonhams