Peter Gethin: McLaren M8D Chev: Can Am 1970…

Posted: August 1, 2014 in Sports Racers, Who,What,Where & When...?
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 Gethin gently pursuades his beast to turn into Riversides’ turn 6; all 7.6 litres and 670 BHP of it, he is sitting so low spotting apexes must have been a challenge…

Denny Hulme won the 1970 series in the sister car, a fitting result for the team after Bruce McLaren was tragically killed in pre-season, M8D testing at Goodwood .

Gethin was recruited to fill Bruce’ F1 seat and later in the year scored the CanAm drive as well. Dan Gurney partnered Hulme initially until conflicting oil company sponsorships forced DG to relinquish the seat. Peter finished third in the championship despite missing the first three rounds.


Gethin thru the Laguna Seca chicane, M8D October 1970 DNF with failed battery. Difference in height between tall Dan Gurney, who used this chassis prior to Gethin apparent from the roll bar extension installed for Dan but redundant for Peter!  (The Enthusiast Network)

dan the man

Check out Dans set in the cockpit to illustrate the point made in the previous photo! Here Dan in chassis #M8D/3 at the season opening Mosport, Canada round, 12 days after Bruce’ Goodwood death. Tyler Alexander, Team manager/Crew Chief at right. Gurney put the car on pole and won the race, a fitting tribute to McLaren and demonstrating the crews determination and resilience (Bob Harmeyer)

Major opposition to the McLaren Team in 1970 came from teams running ex-works and customer Mclarens, the factory/Carl Haas LolaT220 driven by Peter Revson, Jackie Oliver in the Ti22, and of course, Jim Halls sensational, outrageous, revolutionary ground effect Chaparrall 2J. The latter banned at years end after representations from all and sundry, including McLaren.

The McLaren domination of the CanAm Series commenced with the M6 in 1967 and still had a year to run with the M8F. Porsche were looking for something to do with its 917 program rendered obsolete by changes in World Sportscar Championship rules at the end of ’71, the CanAm series was chosen place to use the cars…  The turbo-charged Porsche 917/10 rewriting the record books as the ‘orange McLarens’ had…


Chassis of riveted and bonded aluminium with fabricated steel bulkheads. Engine a stressed part of the chassis, also supported by tubular steel ‘A frames’ . Brakes Lockheed.(Profile Publications)


Suspension: single top link, inverted lower wishbone, twin radius rods and coil spring/shock unit. Gearbox: Hewland LG600. Engines prepared in-house, Chev ZL1 Aluminium block, mainly 7.6 litres or 465CID. 670 BHP @ 6000 RPM. Hulme used 430 CID engine when some overheating was experienced . Full monocoque but ‘rear sponsons’ non load-bearing the engine bolted directly to a magnesium plate at the rear bulkhead, also supported by a steel, tubular ‘A-frames’. (Autosport)



Wheelbase 239cm, track F/R 157/147cm, overall length 391cm, height to roll bar 91cm. Car christened ‘The Batmobile’ as a consequence of beautifully integrated rear wing, the high wing of the ’69 M8B outlawed along with all high wings by the FIA in all classes.(Profile Publications)


Shot of Dan Gurney with dave Friedman early in 1970 showing the cars essential elements ‘laid bare’. (Pinterest)


Peter Gethin was the son of a jockey, his compact dimensions a contrast to Tim Parnells’ whose father Reg was a farmer! Peter explains the handling of his BRM to team boss Tim at the 1972 British GP (Pinterest unattributed)

Bruce McLaren Trust…

Photo Credits…

Pinterest unattributed, Profile Publications, The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images

Tailpiece: Beast at rest, Gethin and M8D @ Laguna Seca…



  1. David Rees says:

    The Gethin shot is at Riverside

    • markbisset says:

      Many thanks David, will update the post accordingly, were you there that day? Am a big Gethin fan, his exploits in the Team VDS F5000 Chevrons during the Tasman series here were great, he won the series one year, ’74 maybe

  2. Douglas Martin says:

    Turn 6 at Riverside Raceway

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