(R Burnett

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course, and we often attached to a particular era, this unique McLaren M6B Repco ‘740’ 5 litre V8 ticks all the boxes for me…

Here it is in repose in the Symmons Plains paddock on 12 November 1972 before John Harvey goes out and bags his second Australian Sportscar Championship on the trot.

Only Harves and car owner Bob Jane ever raced this thing and Bob never sold it- he died a cuppla years ago and it is still owned by his (very messy) deceased estate.

It’s a special jigger too- Bob knew Bruce McLaren well, McLaren built the car for Bob to suit the Repco engine- its a factory built McLaren not a Trojan Cars Ltd customer jobbie- I’m not bagging Trojan just making clear the ‘pedigree’ of a car which is one of Australia’s most iconic racers.

Duncan Fox wrote that ‘Bob’s M6B was an out of sequence car produced late in 1968 at Colnbrook by Bruce as a favour to his long time friend. It is basically an M12 with M6 bodywork that Bob had stylishly reworked. Personally I think it is the prettiest McLaren sportscar in existence. John Harvey told me they did this because he had difficulty seeing the apex over the original front guards.’

‘It was delivered to the Tilbury Docks in London on a car trailer behind the ‘whale’ (the US Ford Station Wagon McLarens had) by Kiwis Chris Charles and Clive Bush who managed on the way to do extensive side damage with the trailer to a gentleman’s Rolls Royce.’

‘It arrived in Australia in CKD (completely knocked down) less engine and transmission on the freighter SS Port St Lawrence sometime early in April 1969. It was invoiced at US$6000 and carried chassis serial number #50-01.’

‘The engine was a Repco Brabham engines #E26 (740 Series) ‘and the dyno chart I have (17/7/71) shows it developed a maximum of 452bhp @ 6500rpm and 405ft/lbs torque @ 5000rpm.’

The fella leaning into the cockpit of the first photo is John Sheppard, Jane’s Chief Mechanic- he said to me a few years back, ‘whenever you are ready lets do another article on the McLaren’. Sheppo was very generous with his time in putting together a detailed feature on the Clark/Geoghegan Lotus 39 Climax/Repco which John prepared for Leo before ’emigrating to Mexico’ (Victoria) to take charge at Janes, Brunswick, Melbourne race workshop circa 1970.

I must give him a buzz.

(R Burnett)

 

Bob and Harves after that 1972 win (H Ellis)

The great shame is that the McLaren was not ready to race at the start of 1969, the year Matich crushed all before him in the Matich SR4 ‘760’ 4.8 litre V8, his way too late intended Can-Am contender.

So Bob and John were late to that particular party, but Harves did contest the final 1969 round at Sandown finishing second to Matich. Repco then acquired the SR4 from FM to use as an exhibit and devoted their mutual development and race energies to the Repco-Holden F5000 program. The first of these engines was fitted to FM’s McLaren M10B in mid-1970, the combination won the November 1970 AGP at Warwick Farm.

The perfectly competitive SR4 with a trick, fresh John Mepstead built 5 litre ‘760’ Repco was set aside leaving the way clear for Bob and Harves to ‘mop up’ the ASCC with the M6B. I’m not sure why they didn’t race the thing much in 1970- Harve’s focus on the Gold Star and the new Torana Repco perhaps, but in 1971 John won three of the four rounds and five of the six 1972 rounds before they too put to one side the curvaceous racer. Team sponsor Castrol wanted them to focus on the teams ‘Taxis’ rather than the ‘Racing Cars’ which at that point comprised the Bowin P8 Repco-Holden F5000 and the McLaren.

Sad but true…

The full story of the M6B is one for another time.

(E French)

Credits…

Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Rob Burnett, Ellis French, Duncan Fox on The Nostalgia Forum, Harold Ellis

Tailpieces…

(R Burnett)

 

(E French)

Finito…

Comments
  1. prn31 says:

    Hi Mark,

    Interesting story, which I suspect is similar to the Brabham BT30/36 Waggott that Jane ordered for Harvey in 1971. Probably a typical end of line special deal from one of his old mates at a cut-down price. Typical of Brunswick Bob! A warts and all biography on Bob Jane would make a very interesting read. Alas, like Frank Matich and the Geoghegan brothers it is probably all too late and too hard. Best to produce more books on Bathurst and Brock…..

    Paul

    • markbisset says:

      Paul,
      Yep, the timimg of the Brabham and Bowin purchases (placing of orders) would be interesting- maybe the Brabham was an ‘interim’ car pending completion of the P8? I saw the BT36 only once in period I recall- the ’72 Tasman, it was raced lightly as was the P8. Castrol I guess.
      And yes to all of those book ideas- great subjects but the volumes are just tiny. Bob and the Geoghegan’s would be the better choices given the taxi appeal.
      And Bobs would be fascinating- his racing, his cars, collection of babes, support of so many others and the commercial development of racing which sorta ran hand in hand with his own period. 7000-10000 books? Maybe?
      Mark

  2. Rob says:

    Mark,

    I’m intrigued by the difference in the exhaust setup shown in the first image and that shown in the photos lower down in the story. Are these images all from the same meeting?

    Rob

    • markbisset says:

      Rob,
      I don’t know that the shots are at the same meeting but I suspect so. Engines in both shots are ‘RBE740’- I think I am right in saying (but am not sure without looking at my own article on all of the RBE V8’s!) that the M6B was always raced at 5 litres. Bob needed to invest in a 5 litre ‘760’ to be up with ‘Match-sticks’of course but he may well have ordered the 740 before Frank first took to the track in the SR4. FM crushed all with the 4.8 he ran throughout 1969, John Mepstead built the only 5 litre 760 in the summer of 1969-70.
      Mark

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