Posts Tagged ‘McLaren M7A Ford’

Bruce McLaren awaits his crew making changes to the setup of his new McLaren M7A Ford, chassis M7A-1, Silverstone 25 April 1968…

Its a day or so before the BRDC International Trophy, one of three non-championship F1 races run in Europe that season. Bruce is to have another good weekend, off the back of his Brands Hatch ‘Race Of Champions’ win in March, his teammate and Kiwi buddy Denny Hulme won the prestigious Silverstone race in an emphatic demonstration of the quality of Bruce McLaren and Robin Herd’s F1 design and construction capabilities.

McLaren in the M7A, from pole, Brands Race of Champions in 1968- he won. Alongside is Mike Spence BRM P126, Jackie Stewart Matra MS10 Ford and on row 2 Chris Amon Ferrari 312 and Denny in his M7A. That’s Jo Bonnier in last years McLaren M5A BRM V12 with his hand up on the second last row. Bruce won from Pedro Rodriguez BRM P133 and Denny LAT)

That season Bruce McLaren famously became one of the very few to win a championship GP in a car of his own name and construction when he won the Belgian GP. Denny Hulme took another three GP victories and challenged for the 1968 World Championship ultimately won by Graham Hill’s Lotus 49B Ford, the car for which the Ford Cosworth DFV was designed.

At the end of 1967 Ford’s Walter Hayes implored Colin Chapman to allow him to offer the DFV to other teams ‘for the good of Grand Prix racing’ such was his fear of Team Lotus dominance. Chapman, to his credit, waived his contractual entitlement to exclusivity- Lotus, Matra and McLaren raced the Ford engine in GP events in 1968.

McLaren M7A Ford cutaway (Dick Ellis)

The duo concepted a car which typified the ‘Cosworth Kit Car’ era. A short monocoque chassis ended aft of the driver’s seat and consisted of three steel bulkheads- one at the back, one at the front, and one open bulkhead at the dashboard which was then skinned with aluminium panels to form a full monocoque over the driver’s legs. It was an immensely torsionally rigid and strong structure compared with the very best spaceframes of only a few years before.

The M7A used glued and riveted skins of L72 aluminium alloy, a British standard for the aviation industry in a thickness of 22 gauge and in a few places 20 guage magnesium sheet. 40 gallons of fuel were distributed between four rubber bag-tanks- one either side of the driver in the tub, another behind his seat and the fourth in the scuttle. The Cosworth DFV engine was bolted directly to the rear bulkhead and at that stage of its development produced circa 420 bhp @ 9500 rpm.

Early test of the M7A at Silverstone on 5 April 1968. Denny up, Bruce by front wheel. Notice the McLaren wheels, ‘nostril’ ducted radiator outlets and top and bottom front suspension radius rods which mount to the bulkhead in the dash area of the tub (R Dumont)

The suspension, of conventional outboard design was derived from the very successful 1967 Can-Am Championship winning M6A Chev. It comprised outboard coil spring/damper units at both ends and single lateral links and trailing arms at the front- and single lateral top links, reversed lower wishbones and twin radius rods at the rear. Uprights were cast magnesium with of course adjustable roll bars front and rear. Steering was McLaren rack and pinion, brakes Lockheed discs all round and the transmission the ubiquitous Hewland DG 300 transaxle five-speed.

The radiator was conventionally mounted at the front, with a sleek fibreglass body topping the whole visually arresting package- hot air vented McLaren style out of ‘nostrils’ in the nose with an oil radiator at the rear above the ‘box and clear in the opening shot.

‘Pop’ McLaren and Alastair Caldwell supervise the McLaren pit in the French GP paddock, Rouen 1968. Note general car layout as per text, suspension, rad duct in lower shot- quality of design, execution and presentation a treat. #8 Denny 5th, #10 Bruce 8th. Shocker of a wet race with Jo Schlesser dead on lap 2 in the experimental Honda RA302 (unattributed)

Allen Brown reports in oldracingcars.com of the M7A’s 1968 season; ‘The first two cars were finished in March 1968, and both debuted at the 1968 Race of Champions, where Bruce McLaren dominated the race, winning from pole position, with his new teammate Denny Hulme finishing third. At the next race, the Silverstone International Trophy, Hulme took pole position and won, with Bruce content to take second place. It was not quite so easy at the first GP, the Spanish, but the M7As were third and fourth on the grid and Hulme finished second.’

‘After a poor weekend in Monaco, Bruce McLaren took his team’s first GP victory in the Belgian GP at Spa in June after Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS10 retired on the last lap. Results were mixed over the next few races, but Hulme won in Italy and in Canada to equal Graham Hill’s score at the top of the World Championship standings. A crash at Watkins Glen and retirement in Mexico ended his challenge, but had been a wonderful season for McLaren’s F1 team’.

McLaren M7A from Pedro Rodriguez, BRM P133- 1st and 2nd, Spa 1968 (unattributed)

McLaren and M7A at Watkins Glen 1968. Note the mount and location of the rear wing in the context of the text below (A Upitis)

In terms of the ebbs and flows of the season, in ‘The Year of Wings’, Matra and Ferrari- on Firestone and Dunlop tyres respectively won races later in the season and Lotus set the aerodynamic standard with high-wings after their initial appearance on the Ferrari 312 and Brabham BT26 Repco at Spa. McLaren lost some of their edge- the cars wings were less effective than Lotuses, when they remained attached to their cars, mounted in the middle of the M7A on the cars sprung mass, rather than Lotus 49 style at the rear on the unsprung suspension uprights, and Goodyear too lost their edge. Remember when there was competition between the tyre manufacturers?!

Goodyear’s new G9 boots gave Denny the kicker he needed to win at Monza and then at St Jovite, Canada but Graham Hill and Lotus deserved the title in a year during which Hill held the team together and picked everybody up after Jim Clark’s tragic death at Hockenheim in April.

Looking at the M7 design from a commercial perspective, whilst McLaren by this stage were well funded by the standards of the day- the M7 design worked hard in contributing to the companies success by providing the basis of the M14 F1 car and the phenomenally successful M10A and M10B F5000 designs which were the ‘class standard’ from 1969-1971- constructed as they were under licence by Trojan Cars in Croydon.

Bruce, M7A Silverstone (V Blackman)

Lets get back to the photo which inspired this piece though, here is none other than DC Nye’s race report of the BRDC International Trophy, in full, from the June 1968 issue of MotorSport, the photographs are all my editorial selections…

‘For the 20th B.R.D.C. International Daily Express Trophy race at Silverstone, the Club amassed a small but fairly representative field of Formula One cars. Heading the entry were Hulme and McLaren in the two impeccably-prepared McLaren M7A-Cosworth V8s, which finished first and third in the Race of Champions, and Ferrari sent over two cars, one a new, slightly sleeker-chassised V12 with the engine lower-mounted than hitherto, and the other the car which Amon normally races. Drivers were the young Belgian, Ickx, and Amon, and though the New Zealander tried both cars he decided he preferred his own, and Ickx raced the new one.

Amon’s Ferrari 312’s, Ickx car in the foreground, Silverstone 1968. Amon Q5 and Ickx Q7 with Chris proving the pace of the Ferrari, despite the Cosworth onslaught with a fastest lap and 3rd place, Jacky 4th (unattributed)

Graham Hill had a solitary Lotus 49-Cosworth V8 which was entered by Gold Leaf Team Lotus, and B.R.M. were well represented with Rodriguez in the Bourne-built, Terry-designed P133 V12 and Spence in the similar, T.A.C.-built P126. Also in a P126 was Courage, having his first F1 race this season for Parnell, and Hobbs had Bernard White’s relatively unsorted Tasman 2-litre B.R.M. P261 chassis, specially lengthened by the works to accommodate the new V12 engine. Also B.R.M.-powered was the lone works Cooper T86B, with Gardner driving, as Scarfiotti was away practicing for the Targa Florio and Redman was reputedly testing F2 Dino Ferraris in Modena. Rob Walker had acquired a new Tasman Lotus 49 chassis to replace the one lost recently in a fire at his Dorking headquarters, Siffert driving as usual; Bonnier was in his 1967 McLaren M5A-B.R.M. V12, and the Swiss Moser had the ex-Hulme, ex-Ligier Brabham BT20-Repco V8. Lanfranchi completed the field in a 2.7-litre Climax 4-cylinder powered Brabham BT23.

Withdrawn entries included a second Parnell B.R.M. for Attwood and Sheppard’s Mallite McLaren fitted with a 3-litre version of the original Climax Godiva V8 for Taylor. Two works Brabhams were listed, but were not complete.

Last year’s G.P. practice record of 1 min. 25.3 sec. by Clark in the Lotus 49 looked a little sick compared with this year’s speeds, Hulme taking pole position with 1 min. 24.3 sec. to Spence’s 1 min. 24.9 sec., McLaren’s 1 min. 25.1 sec. and Rodriguez’s 1 min. 25.3 sec. Behind these four on the front row came Amon at 1 min. 25.5 sec., Hill 1 min. 25.6 sec., Ickx 1 min. 26.4 sec., and Siffert 1 min. 27.6 sec.

One minutes silence in memory of Jim Clark before the off. Hulme at far left on pole, then Spence BRM P126, McLaren M7A and the other BRM P133 of Pedro Rodriguez. Amon, Hill and Ickx on row 2 (Getty)

After a poignant silence in memory of the late Jim Clark, the field were given a maximum of three warming-up laps, and from the start McLaren took an immediate lead ahead of Spence, Hulme, Rodriguez, Ickx, Hill, Amon, Courage, Bonnier and Gardner. Lap 2 and the leading bunch were all scratching hard to draw out some sort of advantage; Courage was briefly ahead of Amon at Copse and Siffert and Gardner were both by Bonnier, who was being harried by Hobbs.

The leading McLarens, B.R.M.s, the lone Lotus and the two Ferraris soon towed each other away from the rest of the field, with Hulme slotting by Spence into second place on lap 4, then being repassed by the B.R.M. Lanfranchi had already stopped for a plug change on his 4-cylinder, and at the start of lap 6 Spence led McLaren into Copse, and was re-passed on the way out to Maggotts to remain the meat in an orange McLaren sandwich for a short distance before chopping by again and leading the bunch on lap 7 from Hulme, McLaren, Rodriguez and Hill, all nose-to-tail. Amon and Ickx had become slightly detached in the works Ferraris, but as they sped down Hangar Straight on that lap a stone was thrown up from Spence’s B.R.M., smashing Hulme’s goggles and giving him a nasty moment which dropped him back to seventh.

Hill and Amon in 3rd and 4th- Ferrari 312 and Lotus 49 Ford (LAT)

Almost immediately Rodriguez’s B.R.M. V12 began to misfire, an ignition lead dropping off, and he stopped before Maggotts, replaced the wire and drove on to the pits, where a more lasting repair was made. By lap 9, with Spence leading narrowly from McLaren, Hill was third in the lone Lotus, Amon was a close fourth and Hulme, whose eyes had stopped watering, was already on his tail and looking for a way by. Positions remained unchanged until lap 14, when the Lotus’ V8 engine died, and, seeing a lot of fluid resting in the vee, Hill thought the engine had suffered a serious breakage and had thrown water. In fact, a fuel pipe had split, and the fluid was petrol, but he was out anyway, and walked back to the pits. Hulme had nipped by Amon on this lap, and was going out after Spence, who had been re-passed by McLaren. lckx was falling back in fifth place with the very new and understeering Ferrari, with Siffert some distance behind, followed by Courage, Gardner, Hobbs, Moser, Lanfranchi and then an unhappy Rodriguez in the misfiring B.R.M., last.

Next lap Hulme was up into second place, and on lap 20 he passed McLaren after getting round in 1 min. 25.3 sec. to take the lead narrowly from his “number one”, Spence and Amon, and these four were still driving in very close company. But Lanfranchi had retired with bad oil surge, and Siffert’s sixth place evaporated on lap 26 when the clutch broke in the Tasman-chassised Lotus, and two laps previously Gardner had gone out in a trail of smoke and steam when the B.R.M. engine broke a liner.

Lap 28, and Spence slotted his slim B.R.M. past McLaren into second place, and as they lapped the tail-enders the leading group began to space out. But Amon closed on McLaren noticeably on lap 36 and was looking for a way by, but then lost time lapping Moser at Copse and dropped back, letting McLaren get away and latch on to Spence’s tail in second place. These two then drove very hard, entering corners side-by-side occasionally until lap 41 when the B.R.M.’s engine stopped suddenly at Club with a timing chain breakage, letting McLaren up into second place, but delaying him sufficiently to let Amon catch up in the Ferrari. Rodriguez had finally retired his sick B.R.M., Ickx was running a lonely fourth, with Courage fifth and about to be lapped, while the only other cars still running were Hobbs’ B.R.M. and Moser’s Brabham-Repco.

Hulme on his way to the first of four M7A wins in 1968, Silverstone, April 1968 (LAT)

Amon was trying hard to wrest second place from McLaren, setting a new outright circuit record on lap 44 of 1 min. 25.1 sec., 123.82 m.p.h., but Bruce was trying equally hard to stay ahead, doing 1 min. 25.2 sec. on the same lap, and, although the two of them were very close together on lap 45, Amon’s luck was running out and his goggles strap broke. Shielding his eyes from the airstream with one hand he drove for two laps before managing to haul his stand-by pair into position on his face, and this dropped him well back from McLaren, and although closing the gap slightly before the finish he came home in third place. Hulme was battered but triumphant, Bruce McLaren had a lot to smile about with his cars’ first one-two victory, and B.R.M. were well pleased with their turn of speed and not too worried about the frailty their cars had shown since they are still at an early stage in their development. The Ferraris had been rather outpaced from the start, but on a clear track and with McLaren as his target Amon had proved that he is one of the quickest drivers around.’—D. C. N.

Denny on his way to a win at St Jovite, Canadian GP 1968 (unattributed)

Etcetera: M7A Chassis by Chassis courtesy Allen Brown at oldracingcars.com…

‘The first two cars were finished in March 1968, and both debuted at the 1968 Race of Champions, where Bruce McLaren dominated the race, winning from pole position, with his new teammate Denny Hulme finishing third. At the next race, the Silverstone International Trophy, Hulme took pole position and won, with Bruce content to take second place. It was not quite so easy at the first GP, the Spanish, but the M7As were third and fourth on the grid and Hulme finished second. After a poor weekend in Monaco, Bruce McLaren took his team’s first GP victory in the Belgian GP at Spa in June after Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS10 retired on the last lap. Results were mixed over the next few races, but Hulme won in Italy and in Canada to equal Graham Hill’s score at the top of the World Championship standings. A crash at Watkins Glen and retirement in Mexico ended his challenge, but had been a wonderful season for McLaren’s F1 team

Bruce 8th, with Tyler Alexander and Alastair Caldwell and M7A at Rouen, Chris Amon 10th Ferrari 312 just heading out (unattributed)

Denny and Bruce at Jarama prior to the 1968 Spanish GP, M7A’s fitted with pannier side tanks. Denny 2nd and Bruce retired in the race won by Hill’s Lotus 49 Ford (unattributed)

Bruce on the way to that historic win aboard his M7A at Spa in 1968 (unattributed)

Hulme’s M7As was retained for 1969 for the Kiwi to drive, and the latest car, M7A/3, was modified to M7B specification with pannier tanks.  When that did not work, both the M7B and the prototype M7A were sold to privateers; both were crashed later in 1969 and both cars scrapped. Bruce drove a new McLaren M7C for the rest of 1969, and a huge amount of effort was wasted on the four-wheel-drive McLaren M9A. It didn’t help that Goodyear, McLaren’s tyre supplier, were well behind Firestone and Dunlop until the end of the season, when the latest rubber helped Hulme win the Mexican GP in his well-used sole surviving M7A. That last M7A was bought by Tony Dean for Formula 5000, and was then sold to a French Museum where it remains, the museum owners having turned down all McLaren International’s offers for the car.’

McLaren, Brands, M7A British GP 1968 (M Hayward)

More on the M7A’s…

Check out Allen Brown’s article which I have referenced and filched from extensively in this article

http://www.oldracingcars.com/mclaren/m7a/

Credits…

Getty Images, Victor Blackman, Ronald Dumont, Alvis Upitis, MotorSport June 1968 article by Doug Nye, Dick Ellis, LAT, Mike Hayward, Allen Brown-oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

Finito…

(R Schlegelmilch)

Vic Elford leans his machine gun on moustachioed teammate Lucien Bianchi’s, winged Cooper T86B BRM in search of a Messerschmitt BF109, Nurburgring 1968…

This is a pretty canny bit of impromptu PR by the Cooper boys at the height (sic) of the hi-wings explosion that summer in Grand Prix racing. That trend was all over pretty quickly due to the flimsy engineering of some of the appendages, that story covered by an article I wrote a while back; https://primotipo.com/2015/07/12/wings-clipped-lotus-49-monaco-grand-prix-1969/

Cooper’s built three T86B chassis for the 1968 season by adapting the 1967 Maserati V12 engined T86 design to accept BRM’s sportscar derived customer P101 V12 first used by Bruce McLaren during the later half of the 1967 season in the back of his McLaren M5A.

Cooper T86B- aluminium/electron monocoque chassis, front suspension by top rockers, lower wishbones and inboard mounted coil spring/dampers, rear suspension by single top link, inverted lower wishbones, twin radius rods and coil spring dampers, adjustable roll bars front and rear. Outboard disc brakes front and rear, Cooper steering rack. BRM P101 2998 cc DOHC, 2 valve, Lucas injected 60 degree circa 375 bhp V12, Hewland DG300 5 speed transaxle (Bill Bennett)

The heavy, relatively lower (a Cosworth DFV punched out about 410bhp at the time) powered machines were raced initially by Brian Redman and Ludovico Scarfiotti, who was tragically killed at Rossfeld Hillclimb over the June Spa weekend. He was replaced by Lucien Bianchi, who had an amazing year in sportscars, rally machines and in single-seaters. Click here for an article in part about Lucien; https://primotipo.com/2016/03/22/cowans-grunter/

Quick Vic got the steer after Brian Redman was badly injured at Spa when his suspension failed, the car then crashed into and over a concrete barrier, his progress arrested by a parked Ford Cortina- he escaped with a broken arm and minor burns but was out of racing for a bit. Johnny Servoz-Gavin and Robin Widdows had one-off drives. Best results for the cars were thirds for Redman in Spain and Bianchi at Monaco, whilst fourth places were scored by Scarfiotti in Spain and Monaco and by Elford in France.

German GP start, gloomy to say the least! Denny Hulme’s McLaren M7A Ford in shot, to his left and forward is John Surtees Honda RA302 with Elford’s Cooper to John’s front left. Up front are Ickx and Amon’s Ferrari 312’s, Hill is to Elford’s right in the hi-winged Lotus 49 and a slow starting Stewart, Matra MS10  in front of Hulme (PH Cahier)

Vic popped his Cooper on grid 5 at the Nurburgring but left the road on the first lap of the famously wet and treacherous race won by Jackie Stewart’s Dunlop shod Matra MS10 Ford. He won by four minutes from Graham Hill’s Firestone shod Lotus 49B Ford and Jochen Rindt’s Goodyear tyred Brabham BT26 Repco a further six seconds back. Stewart was magic that day aided by some schmick, trick Dunlop wets- one of his greatest drives in the minds of many including the great man himself.

JYS during his soggy, stunning run, Matra MS10 Ford (R Schlegelmilch)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, PH Cahier, oldracingcars.com

Tailpiece…

(unattributed)

Finito…

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9200 rpm and breathing very heavily thru it’s oversized for GP racing ports…

Bruce McLaren at rest and considering setup changes to his first GP car, Robin Herd’s Ford Indy V8 powered, ‘Mallite’ chassis, M2B at Watkins Glen in 1966.

These shots are from the Dave Friedman Archive; the tachometer snaps are at the US GP, the balance of photos from the following, final 1966 Championship round in Mexico City.

This article is another of my ‘nutso’ ones in terms of its order…

I found a swag of photos in Friedman’s archive a while back and planned a pictorial of Bruce and his first McLaren GP car at the 1966 US and Mexican Grands’ Prix, the events where Friedman snapped away prodigiously. I put it to one side and largely forgot about it. Subsequently I decided on something more substantive; so the first bit is the original pictorial, the second is about Bruce’ progress in his first two years as an F1 marque jumping from engine to engine until the DFV provided the definitive McLaren F1 moteur from 1968-1983.

And boy, wasn’t there a lot of water that passed under the bridge between 1968 when the design for the Cosworth powered McLaren M7 was laid down to John Barnard providing both the dimensions of the DFV and its means of attachment to the chassis amongst his ‘mandatories’ of design specifications to Hans Metzger at Porsche in 1983. The TAG/Porsche 1.5 litre twin-turbo V6 was the result, the McLaren MP4/1E TAG-Porsche first raced at the 28 August 1983 Dutch Grand Prix. Back to 1965/6 though!

Remember, the tachometer snaps are at the US GP, the balance of photos from the following round in Mexico City, there are no captions in the first part of the article.

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As a GP engine the Ford Quad-Cam Indy V8 engine was a huge, beefy, heavy and notoriously raucous unit. Visually it was a ‘big busty blonde’ as well with its whopping Hilborn injection trumpets and huge ‘between the vee exhausts’, it looked ‘the goods’…

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The Ford Indy quad cam V8 in its earliest form fitted to a Lotus 34 at Indy in 1964. Jim Clark and Dan Gurney contested the race, this is Clark’s chassis. Engine 4195cc DOHC, 4 valve, Hilborn injected, methanol fuelled giving circa 425bhp @ 8000rpm and useful power from 6000-9000rpm. ZF 2DS 20 ‘box (TEN)

McLaren developed and tested the engine during the winter of 1965/6, notably at Riverside, California but missed the European non-championship F1 events with which the season commenced. In a portent of the season to come John Surtees won the 1 April Syracuse GP in his Ferrari 312 whilst ‘Black-Jack’ won the BRDC International Trophy in his Brabham BT19 Repco at Silverstone on May 14.

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McLaren looking pretty chilled at this stage of the ’66 Monaco weekend upon his teams GP debut, color of the car a function of doing a deal with John Frankenheimer’s crew as part of  filming of ‘Grand Prix’ . Inboard rocker front suspension and outboard loacation of spring/shock at the rear. Checkout the prostrate ‘snapper behind the car (unattributed)

McLaren made its debut as an F1 marque in the May 22, 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, the first championship round that year. Bruce raced the car he concepted together with Robin Herd, the brilliant young designer specified ‘Mallite’ as the primary material for M2B’s monocoque chassis. (noting the M1 series of car are CanAm machines)

Mallite is a composite sheet aerospace sandwich material comprising end grain balsa material filling between thin sheets of aluminium. The resultant chassis was incredibly stiff for its day at around 11000 lb/ft per degree of deflection compared with a good conventional ‘ally tub which came in the range of 4000-5000 lb/ft per degree.

The Indy Ford 4-cam V8 was reduced from its USAC mandated 4.2 litres to the 3 litre F1 limit (95.3mmX52.4mm bore/stroke-2999cc) which prevailed from 1 January 1966. For F1 use the engine was first modified by Klaus von Rucker in England, then later Bruce involved Traco Engineering in Los Angeles.

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All hands to the pump! Bruce, Tyler Alexander and Wally Willmott hard at it, Monaco 1966. The Indy Ford V8’s Hilborn fuel injection, between the Vee exhausts, full monocoque chassis, ZF 5 DS25 gearbox and conventional rear suspension; inverted lower wishbones, single top link, coil spring/dampers, twin radius rods and adjustable sway bar all clear in this shot (unattributed)

Click on this article for a brief history of the Ford Indy V8 amongst the Lola T90 stuff which is the main substance of this piece; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/12/graham-hills-american-red-ball-spl-lola-t90-ford-indy-winner-1966-2/

At Monaco the new McLaren qualified 12th, Bruce withdrew with mechanical ailments on lap 9, the race was won by Jackie Stewart’s 2.1 litre ‘Tasman’ P56 V8 engined BRM P261. This car was his 1965 1.5 litre F1 mount with a bigger version of the P56 V8 with which he won the 1965 Tasman Series.

Bruce and his small Colnbrook team, (near Heathrow an area in the midst of the motor racing industry of subcontractors 3 miles from Slough and 18 miles West of London) crew quickly realised the engines massive ports and valves didn’t give the sort of gas flow speed needed to produce competitive power at 3 litres. Mind you, its 300 horsepower was the sort of output the World Championship winning ‘RB620’ Repco V8 developed in 1966. It was enough to win Jack’s ’66 title albeit the Repco engine was light, very torquey and reliable. By contrast, Bruce’s Ford was heavy and gave its punch over a narrow rev band, the deficiencies of which were exacerbated by the 4 speed ZF ‘box they used which ‘left lots of gaps’ in the power band.

The team had much work to do on the Ford, in the meantime Count Volpi’s new Serenissima V8, designed by Ing. Alberto Massimino, who was part of the Lancia-Ferrari and Maserati 250F 1950’s design teams provided another ‘ready made’ alternative engine to try.

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Serenissima ATS Spider, Sauer/de Mortemart. Le Mans 1966. DNF with gearbox failure on lap 43. It raced in the prototype class, the race won by the McLaren/Amon Ford GT Mk2 (Smuckatelli)

This project is a story in itself but suffice to say Bruce tried the engine whilst simultaneously developing the Indy Ford V8 in an attempt to get it to where it needed to be. Most of you will be aware that Bruce’ Ford connections were immaculate at the time as both a development and race driver of the GT40 program, those cars developed by teams on both sides of the Atlantic. It was Bruce’ hope that he may have been able to get FoMoCo’s backing for his F1 variant of their Indy V8. In the end, via Ford UK’s Walter Hayes, Ford supported the Cosworth developed DFV of course.

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Weber 48IDA fed Serenissima all alloy V8 in the back of Bruce’ M2B during the Belgian GP weekend, 1966 (unattributed)

The Serenissima engine was designed as a sports car unit and gave little power. The ‘M166’ engine was an aluminium, chain driven, quad cam, 2 valve V8 displacing 2996cc (91.5X57.0 mm bore/stroke) 350 bhp was claimed for it but most of the horses seemed to have jumped ship between Italy and the UK, the actual output was more like 260bhp.

M2B was modified to take the side exhaust Italian V8 in time for the Belgian GP, at Spa. The team had great trouble just getting the thing to start, then run and to add insult to injury it ran its bearings after its first exploratory laps having qualified 16th. With no spare engine Bruce was a non-starter.

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Bruce in the winning Ford Mk2 he shared with Chris Amon at Le Mans 1966. The Ferrari is the Maranello Concessionaires Ferrari 365 P2 driven by Richard Attwood and David Piper (GP Library)

Bruce and his young intended McLaren F1 team-mate Chris Amon (who raced M1B Chev CanAm cars for Bruce in 1966) then departed England for France and returned as Le Mans winners in a factory Ford GT Mk2. That contentious win or perhaps ‘first over the line’ is still the subject of discussion and debate amongst enthusiasts and historians alike even all these decades later.

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1966 British GP, Brands Hatch, M2B Serenissima V8. Bruce was 6th, scoring a championship point, the teams first. Jack Brabham won in BT19 Repco from pole, he was 2 laps up the road to give the gap some perspective. Bruce in his ‘Pete Aron’ Grand Prix filming helmet (unattributed)

Jack Brabham won both the French Grand Prix at Reims and the British at Brands Hatch in BT19 Repco. The M2B-Serenissima contested the Brands race with more success, the engine was reliable. Bruce started superbly on a damp track on wets running in the top six. As the road dried he dropped back but inherited 6th scoring McLaren’s first World Championship point. A significant day in Grand Prix history indeed.

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Bruce, Serenissima engined M2B in practice ahead of Jo Siffert Cooper T81 Maser DNF and Dan Gurney Eagle T1G Weslake DNF, Zandvoort 1966. He didn’t start the race (unattributed)

At the Dutch GP the Serenissima engine again failed, the McLaren F1 program was set aside pending development of the Indy Ford V8. Amongst other changes the engine was fitted with Chrysler Hemi inspired induction tracts which lifted its output to around 312bhp at 9500rpm.

The beast re-appeared in the United States GP at Watkins Glen, Bruce finished 5th by surviving a race of mechanical mayhem but in the final race of ’66, won by John Surtees’ Cooper T81 Maserati, the Mexican GP, the engine blew after 70 laps having qualified 14th.

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McLarens interim 1967 contender, the 2.1 litre P56 BRM V8 engined M4B makes it’s debut during the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch on 12 March 1967 (Getty)

Bruce cast around for a better alternative engine for 1967 and was a happy customer of BRM’s prospective 4 cam, 2 valve V12 which was designed as both an F1 and sportscar unit. The prototype (Group 6) capacity limit at the time was 3 litres so it made good commercial sense for BRM to build customer engines to replace the P56 V8’s which raced in endurance events as well as Grands Prix. BRM’s complex H16 was their factory F1 unit at the time but it was problematic to say the least…not available to customers (post Lotus) and probably not wanted by Bruce in any event!

A new one-off M5A monocoque chassis was designed for this engine designated ‘P101’, but the BRM V12 was running late, the M5A didn’t appear until the Canadian GP at Mosport in August.

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Bruce testing M4B BRM in the UK before the ’67 season started, circuit and date uncertain. The exposed monocoque chassis is that of an M4A Ford FVA F2 car upon which M4B was based (unattributed)

So a gorgeous little car was used in the interim; the McLaren M4B BRM V8 was based on Bruce’ M4A F2 car but instead of Ford’s little 1.6 litre FVA the engine bay carried a 2.1 litre version of BRM’s venerable, powerful, small and reliable P56 V8 which had won Graham Hill’s 1962 World Championship, countless GP’s and Tasman Series events. This Tasman BRM V8 engine gave circa 280bhp. ‘Belly’ fuel tanks gave the F2 derived F1 car sufficient fuel for 200 miles.

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The business end of M4B BRM at Monaco 1967. P56/60 V8 one of the great GP engines, 2.1 litres, 2 valve, Lucas injected, circa 245 bhp. ‘box is a Hewland DG300, beefy and under-stressed for this application, rear suspension period typical (unattributed)

M4B BRM made its debut in Bruce’ hands in the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch on 13 March. It finished 4/6th in heats one/two but then its engine blew after 1 lap of the final after Bruce muffed a change in heat two. 5th places followed in the two heats and final of the Daily Express Spring Cup at Oulton Park and in the International Trophy at Silverstone on 15 April where Bruce was again, you guessed it, 5th!

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Bruce contesting the Oulton Park Spring Cup, 15 April ’67 M4B BRM, 5th. Brabham won the final in a BT20 Repco (Watson)

So, the little car had plenty of race miles on it as the team transporter headed to Monaco, the little M4B was tailor-made for the tight street circuit, but Jim Clark and Graham Hill were in similar hybrids; 1.5 F1 Lotus 33’s with stretched Tasman V8 Coventry Climax and BRM engines respectively.

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Bruce rests on his M4B armchair before the off, Monaco 1967. Its ‘done the rounds’ this shot but its such an atmospheric beauty i popped it in, this cars best view is its arse! where everything is very pert, taut and tightly packaged (unattributed)

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Bruce in M4B with truncated ‘Monaco’ nose ’67 (unattributed)

‘But Bruces’ battery was running flat – forcing a dramatic pit stop – Bruce could well have finished second behind fellow Kiwi Denny Hulme’s victorious Repco Brabham. Some of the spirit of Formula One in those days is typified by the pit stop as Bruce believed his misfire was fuel pressure and bawled as much at his crew. But Jack Brabham, friend and rival had come into the pits and was shouting ‘it’s your battery – it’s your battery!’ As Bruce wrote: Good old Jack. It was the battery and we quickly whipped another one on. He rejoined and finished fourth – three further championship points … thanks in part to a rival team chief!’ records the Bruce McLaren Trust.

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Dutch GP, Zandvoort 1967. Bruce in M4B BRM ahead of Pedro Rodriguez’ Cooper T81 Maserati, it was the debut of the Lotus 49 Ford, Clark won the race in Chapman’s jewel. Note the different nose compared with the earlier shots especially the ducts to ease the flow of air after its passed thru the radiator, reducing front lift in the process (Watson)

The M4B was then badly damaged on lap two of the Dutch GP at Zandvoort as Bruce went off on spilled oil in the fast Huzaren Viak corner. After repair he was testing it at Goodwood when it caught fire out on the circuit, he then watched it burn to death! The ’67 Dutch is also remembered of course for the debut of the Lotus 49 and more importantly the Ford Cosworth DFV V8 which powered it.

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McLaren assists with a plug change on his Eagle’s Weslake V12. French GP, Circuit Bugatti, LeMans 1967 (Getty)

Without a car, Bruce did a deal with Dan Gurney to drive the lanky Californian’s V12 Eagle T1G Weslake, Dan was in sparkling form in an All-American dream week having won two significant races in the Le Mans 24 Hour classic (Ford Mk4 with AJ Foyt co-driving) and at the Belgian GP in the Eagle thereby following the footsteps of Brabham as a GP winning driver of a car he built. It was a path Bruce would also traverse in the 1968 Belgian GP in his Cosworth powered M7A. Bruce was quick in Dan’s car, at the Circuit Bugatti Le Mans he qualified the big car 5th to Dans 3rd but they were both outed in the race, Bruce with ignition problems and Dan with a fuel line issue.

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The unfamiliar sight of GP cars at Le Mans, fortunately the Circuit Bugatti was only used once, the French having a wonderful selection of road circuits at the time to choose from. Eagle T1G surely the best looking F1 car of the sixties!? Bruce sets off for some laps in his unfamiliar mount (Cahier)

Two weeks later at Silverstone Jim Clark was in sparkling form and convincingly won the British GP. Bruce and Dan qualified 10th and 5th with Bruce this time outed with engine problems and Dan a failing clutch. Consistency in build and preparation of the Weslake V12 were amongst its issues, its fair to say the demands of two ‘Number Ones’ perhaps placed much more pressure on the resources of Gurney’s small team, than getting one machine ready to a high standard. I’ve never read anything about what Bruce, like Dan, one of the supreme engineer/tester/drivers thought of the T1G or its engine. I’m intrigued to know if any of you have something of that nature published ‘in period’ in your collections.

The supreme test of the Nurburgring followed on August 6 where again both drivers qualified well, 5th and 4th for Bruce and Dan respectively but again both failed to finish; Bruce with unspecified mechanical mayhem and Gurney’s superb bolide with driveshaft failure.

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Bruce and M6A Chev, Mosport CanAm 23 September 1967, Denny won with Bruce 35 seconds behind (Friedman)

Later in 1967 was a busy time for McLaren. Whilst the F1 program was still formative its CanAm challenge was very mature. Bruce and Robins Chev V8 engined M6A was the result of learnings of the previous years, in both Bruce’ M1’s and other cars he raced. The ’67 Can Am commenced on September 3 at Road America and finished in Las Vegas two months later, the ‘papaya cars’ took 5 of the 6 rounds and Bruce the title, a remarkably well deserved one at that.

The Colnbrook build team had the Can Am cars well clear of the workshop by the time they mated the late arriving BRM V12 to the M5A chassis. Bruce was ‘razor sharp’, his driving buoyed by both the competitiveness of the team ‘Stateside and his individual performances in these oh-so-beautifully designed, engineered and executed sports-racers.

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Bruce at Monza in M5A BRM V12 1967. Q3 and DNF with an engine failure, Surtees the Italian GP winner in a Honda RA300 V12 (unattributed)

The M5A monocoque chassis abandoned Mallite which was considered too complex to shape and heavy in favour of aluminium sheet, the car having a fully stressed section enclosing the drivers legs, the area above his kness left open for maintenance access. The gearbox was the DG300 Hewland also used in the smaller BRM V8 engined car.

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The BRM P101 V12 in the back of M5A at Monza in 1966. Lots of ‘Aeroquip’ lines, Lucas injection, Hewland DG300 transaxle, ‘Fram’ oil filter below the oil rad popped up in the breeze. Engine, non-stress bearing,  is 4 chain driven cams but 2 valves. Engine evolved over time into the 4 valve engine which gave competitive service especially in 1970/71 in the back of BRM’s P153 and P160 (Schlegelmilch)

BRM’s 24 valve P101 V12 was originally designed for sports-prototype use by Geoff Johnson. The engines bore/stroke were 73.8X57.2mm for a capacity of 2998cc with a compression ratio of 12:1. The Lucas injected, chain driven 4 cam, 2 valve engine produced 369bhp at 9750rpm on 14 August, engine ‘P101-003’ put to good use by Bruce during the Canadian Grand Prix.

During the race the hot oil tank cooked the battery, Bruce gained on the leaders till spinning in the greasy conditions.

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Bruce in M5A BRM fighting Jack Brabham for 3rd, before retirement. Brabham won the Canadian GP, in his Brabham BT24 Repco (Laymon)

At Monza the combination showed just how competitive they were; Bruce popped the thing on the front row, with 20 laps to go he and Surtees were racing wheel to wheel for a dash to the flag when a BRM cylinder liner dropped, the car withdrew on lap 4 with Surtees and Braham running to the line, Jack was outfoxed by John on the last corner of the race.

The M5A retired in both the US and Mexico and was used by the reigning World Champion, Denny Hulme in the first race of 1968, the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami.

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Bruce in M5A BRM at Mexico City 1967. Q8 and DNF lap 45 with engine failure. Clark won in a Lotus 49 Ford from Brabham and Hulme, the latter took the ’67 drivers title Brabham Repco mounted (Cahier)

But the F1 world had changed late in 1967, by Walter Hayes decision to make the Ford DFV available to customers; he convinced Colin Chapaman to waive the exclusivity agreement Lotus had to use the engine which allowed Bruce and Robin Herd (and Ken Tyrrell in 1968 as well as Lotus) to design a bespoke chassis to suit the 408bhp DFV.

The bathtub aluminium monocoque M7A made a splendid debut winning the ’69 Race of Champions at Brands Hatch with the boss taking the win from pole and jagging the fastest lap to boot!

A new chapter in McLaren history was underway, DFV powered McLarens won World Titles for Emerson Fittipaldi in 1974 and James Hunt in 1976, stories for another time…

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Bruce in the papaya M7A Ford DFV winning the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch upon the models race debut (Ed Lacey)

Bibliography…

The Bruce McLaren Trust, ‘History of The GP Car’ Doug Nye, The GP Encyclopaedia

Credits…

Dave Friedman Archive, Cahier Archive, Ron Laymon, Ed Lacey, Rainer Schlegelmilch, Ron Laymon, Getty Images, Brian Watson, GP Library, Nigel Smuckatelli, The Enthusiast Network

Etcetera-Engines…

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Bruce, Teddy Mayer, Monaco, 1966 McLaren M2B Ford Indy V8, both above and below shots (Schlegelmilch)

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M2B Serenissima at Spa 12 June 1966. Compare and contrast the Ford Indy V8 installation in the shots above, the car designed for that engine and then adapted to suit the Italian V8, ZF 5 DS25 box used in both cases (Schlegelmilch)

Tailpiece: ‘BRDC Intl Trophy’, Silverstone, 29 April 1967. From small acorns do big things grow. Bruce, Teddy and the boys, a few passers by. Perhaps it’s Friday, and M4B/1 BRM P56/60 V8…

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