Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The First McLaren Road Car (and it's replicas)

Bruce McLaren wasn't just an incredible racing driver, but a great engineer in his own right and his name lives on in the McLaren race and road cars.

Many think the incredible McLaren F1 designed by Gordon Murray and built by the current regime was the first McLaren road car, but there was one way back that is incredibly beautiful and has inspired several magnificent replicas.

The original McLaren M6a was a racing car built by Bruce McLaren and his Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team to replace the teams M1B's in the American Can Am series. In 1967 this Chevrolet powered machine brought the team their first of several Can Am series championships.

When the M6a was replaced by the M8a for the 1968 season, McLaren and technical partner Trojan developed the M6B as a customer car for other teams in Can Am and other racing series.

The M6 name resurfaced again as the M6GT, a closed-cockpit racing prototype for the Le Mans 24 Hours and other endurance races.

However, the homologation process for the FIA's Group 4 regulations wasn't completed and McLaren and Trojan were left with a handful of prototypes on their hands.

Two cars were converted to road cars, and one of those became Bruce McLaren's own personal transport.

There the story could have ended and the car slip into the annals of history as a forgotten nearly car, but in 1973 brothers Brad and Tim LoVette founded Manta Cars with the Mirage, which looked a little like the M6,but by the late 70's they brought the Montage to Market, which was a stunning M6GT replica.

It even became a TV star being used in the action series Hardcastle and McCormick, which drilled it into my youthful memory as it did for many others.

About 1000 Mirage and Montage kits were sold by 1986 when the company folded, but by then UVA in the UK had become an agent before continuing to develop their own version.

A composite monocoque centre tub with steel subframes front and rear and power provided by the classic Rover small block V8. While not matching the power and performance of the original McLaren M6 it certainly made the right noises and didn't shame it's inspiration. Inside was more luxurious with leather being adopted by most of the few builders who completed one before UVA too went out of business.

These were probably the closest replica to the McLaren original however and are now sought after classics in their own right.

Yet again though this wasn't the end of the story. Tornado, a kit car manufacturer from the UK brought out their own M6 look-alike. At first it bore little more than a passing resemblance to the original M6GT, but evolved gradually to look closer to it's inspiration.

Under the beautifully moulded bodywork is a spaceframe chassis with double wishbone suspension front and rear.

I was lucky enough to be taken for a ride in one by Bas from The Kit Car Collection in The Netherlands. Again powered by a Rover V8 producing in the region of 200 bhp driving through a Renault transaxle, just like the Lotus Esprit!

If you'd like to come for a ride in this lovely car click on this link

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(All pictures lifted from the internet are used with no knowledge of copyright and can be removed if requested. All links are my own and are placed here by myself)

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