2012 The Silverstone Classic Sale

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1972 McLaren M8F Can-Am Race Car

Lot No.: 208

Registration: n/a
Chassis Number: 09/72
Engine Number: Not Specified
Number of cylinders: 8
CC: 8800cc
Year of Manufacture: 1972
Sold for (£): Result to follow

The Canadian-American Challenge Cup or ‘CanAm' as it was called produced some truly awesome machinery and great racing. In the US, unlike in Europe, there were very few constraints in the FIA Group 7 Regulations, almost anything was allowed as far as engines and aerodynamics were concerned. The wheels needed to be covered and there had to be two seats and that was about it. It was almost ‘formula libre'. At its peak CanAm attracted a huge following plus all the top US drivers and many European Grand Prix drivers like Jackie Stewart, Jo Siffert, Pedro Rodriguez and Peter Gethin came to race in US. These monstrous cars became increasingly powerful and could put in lap times that would match those of the similar F1 cars of the day.

The racing only took place in the USA and Canada.

In 1965 one of the first people to spot the potential of CanAm racing was New Zealander, Bruce McLaren. He was a serious racing driver, a talented engineer and a brilliant businessman. He set up ‘Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd' in Colnbrook, near London´s Heathrow Airport. CanAm became the main focus for McLaren. He arrived with two cars at the very beginning of the championship, one for himself and the other for Chris Amon. Later, Denny Hulme drove the second car. McLaren's only condition was that the cars earned a lot of ‘start money' and a lot of ‘prize money', after all Bruce was a businessman. It didn't take long for McLaren to become the leading team in CanAm. The ‘Bruce and Denny' Show won four titles in a row between 1967 and 1970. Pete Revson, nephew of Charles Revson, of Revlon fame and son of billionaire Martin Revson, then won the Championship for McLaren again in 1971. This kind of success attracted healthy sponsorship from Gulf Oil and Reynolds Aluminum.

The McLaren Chevrolets in their yellow-orange livery became the symbol of CanAm racing and their success went on to finance the New Zealander's Formula One activities for a very long time.

McLaren went on to sell their ‘last year's' cars through Trojan, who subsequently entered Formula One with their own car driven by Tim Schenken.

McLaren finally met their match when Porsche entered CanAm with their massively powerful Porsche 917/30, driven by Mark Donahue and latterly George Follmer. The Porsche could call on over 1000bhp!

For McLaren the Can-Am programme was over. They had entered their first F1 Grand Prix at Monaco in 1966, the car driven by the founder Bruce McLaren. Their first win came in the Belgium Grand Prix in 1968. Sadly Bruce McLaren was killed testing an M8D at Goodwood in 1970. In 1974 Emerson Fittipaldi became World Champion, winning McLaren their first World Constructors Championship to accompany the five Canadian-American Challenge Cup Trophies.

This car is believed to have been owned originally by Bill Cuddy who sold it to Bud Romak. Then in 1976 it went off, caught fire and burnt out at Sears Point. Romak then sold the remains of the car to Hal Whipple who started on the restoration. The fire damaged remains were then acquired by Ian Webb from the UK and because of their poor condition, he sold the many of the parts in America. Around this time two other cars were built that also claimed to be the ex-Romak car. This could be where the confusion over chassis numbers arose. We gather that Ian Webb then sold the project on to CanAm expert Harold Drinkwater. Drinkwater, in turn, went on to complete the rebuilding of the car and subsequently sold it to Richard Eyre.
Richard Eyre then raced the car regularly in International Supersports Cup all over Europe between 1994-2000. The current vendor bought the car from Richard Eyre in 2004 and raced it regularly and very successfully in the UK up until last year.

Chassis 09/72 comes with the correct all alloy 8.8 litre Chevrolet V8 engine that pushes out a reliable 700-800bhp. It also has the Kinsler fuel injection system that was designed around the ‘Big Block' Chevy engine. The gearbox is a Hewland LG600 which was designed to handle all that power. The gearbox also has a new crown wheel and pinion.

The car comes with two sets of fibreglass bodywork, one set is believed to be the same as the style that appeared on the Atlantic Computers McLaren M8D that the late John Foulston drove. There are three sets of wheels and various used Avon tyres. There is also a substantial spares package which includes a spare engine block and heads. The vendor tells us that all the relevant components have been crack tested. There are also a number of body and suspension ‘jigs' should the car ever get slightly ‘out of shape'. The vendor advises us the car has all the correct FIA Papers and should be ‘race ready', however, the buyer would do well to carry out a light safety recommissioning. It last raced at the Masters Donington round in 2011.

Chassis Number 09/72 was the last McLaren Trojan M8F chassis to be built. The chassis plate appears correctly on the tub, though history would suggest that while this car was being rebuilt in the UK another one was being recreated in America. Therefore it is worth noting that while the vendor believes all the history surrounding this car is correct, it is known that another car exists in US with the same chassis number. This should in no way detract from the provenance, usability or recent history of this fabulously exotic monster of a car.

This is a chance to acquire one of the most powerful racing cars ever built, that is ready to race and will certainly keep your attention while you thread it through the traffic at race tracks all over Europe and the USA.