THE CARS

From Bruce McLaren’s first racing car, a little Austin Ulster, to the legendary road and racing cars that still bear his name, every McLaren tells a unique story.

THE EARLY YEARS

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AUSTIN ULSTER 

Bruce McLaren’s earliest competitive driving experience came at the wheel of a modified 1929 Austin Ulster. Bought in bits by his father who had planned to restore and sell it, 13-year-old Bruce convinced him they could turn it into a race car.

Involved in every stage of the Ulster’s restoration, the experience proved vital for the future race car designer. Two years later, in his race-prepared Ulster, 15-year-old Bruce set the fastest time in the 750cc class at the Muriwai Beach hill climb.

Having left New Zealand for England, Bruce’s Austin Ulster was housed in a small museum until 1989, when it was found and bought by the McLaren Group. Maintained in original condition, the little legend now takes pride of place alongside its faster and more illustrious successors on the boulevard at the MTC.

1960s

GROUP 7 McLAREN M1B 1965 

Designed and hand built by Robin Herd and Bruce McLaren, the M1B was the official 1965 McLaren team car. Painted a distinctive red, the all-alloy prototype made its debut at the Canadian Grand Prix. Leading for 96 of the 100 laps, Bruce and the M1B had to settle for second place after a thrilling battle with Jim Hall. 

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
GROUP 7 SPORTS CAR
Year of Production
1965
Designer
ROBIN HERD/BRUCE MCLAREN
Examples Built
4
Engine
OLDSMOBILE/CHEVROLET V8
Power Output
340BHP
Principal Drivers
B. McLAREN, P. HILL, C. AMON

CAN-AM McLAREN M6A 1967 

A major turning point in McLaren’s fortunes, the M6A was the most successful car Robin Herd designed for the team in 1967. One of the finest handling machines of its time, the M6A helped Bruce and Denny Hulme dominate the 1967 Can-Am series, winning five out of six races.

The M6A was also the first McLaren to be painted in the team’s trademark papaya orange – or McLaren Orange as this definitive hue became known.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
CAN-AM
Year of Production
1967
Designer
ROBIN HERD/GORDON COPPUCK
Examples Built
3
Engine
CHEVROLET V8
Power Output
527BHP
Principal Drivers
B. McLAREN, D. HULME, M DONOHUE, J. HANSEN

FORMULA 1™ McLAREN M7A 1968 

Designed by Robin Herd and Gordon Coppuck, the elegant M7A was the first McLaren powered by the Ford Cosworth DFV engine. Second in the Constructors’ title in ’68, the impressive M7A won the Italian and Canadian Grand Prix with Denny Hulme at the wheel. At the Belgian Grand Prix, Bruce emulated Jack Brabham as the second man ever to win a Grand Prix race in a car bearing his own name.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
FORMULA 1™
Year of Production
1968
Designer
ROBIN HERD/GORDON COPPUCK
Examples Built
3
Engine
FORD COSWORTH DFV
Power Output
410BHP
Principal Drivers
B. McLAREN, D. HULME

ROAD CAR McLAREN M6GT 1969 

Successive Cam-Am victories brought funds into the company, and Bruce – always more than a driver – was keen to test his skills as an innovator, designer and entrepreneur. Bruce’s intention was to build the ultimate sports car, and to build it to the highest specification possible. An approach echoed decades later with the awe-inspiring McLaren F1 project.

As a McLaren, the proposed car would be based on the latest developments in race car engineering. It would also be the fastest road car in the world, and the fastest accelerating. Bruce used the prototype M6GT on his commute to work and to attend race meetings. Sadly, the dream to build 250 production cars a year died with Bruce.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
ROAD CAR
Year of Production
1969
Designer
BRUCE McLAREN/GORDON COPPUCK
Examples Built
1 (+ 3 TROJAN BUILT)
Engine
CHEVROLET LT1
Power Output
370BHP
Principal Drivers
B. McLAREN

1970s

INDY CAR McLAREN M16 1971-1976 

The M16’s radical wedge shape, while familiar in Formula 1™, caused astonishment at Indianapolis. The Gordon Coppuck design, however, proved ideal for the continuous high-speed running that characterised Indy racing.

In all its various guises, the M16 concept would go down in motorsport history as one of the most successful cars in the long and illustrious history of the Indianapolis 500. Competing in 11 races and taking three victories, four second and two third places, it laid the foundations for an astonishingly fruitful adventure for what was still a small team.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
INDY CAR
Year of Production
1971-76
Designer
GORDON COPPUCK/JOHN BARNARD
Examples Built
15
Engine
OFFENHAUSER 4-CYLINDER TURBO
Power Output
700 – 780BHP
Principal Drivers
D HULME, P REVSON, M DONOHUE, J RUTHERFORD

1980s

FORMULA 1™ McLAREN MP4/1 1981 

Arguably the most significant car in McLaren’s long history, the John Barnard designed MP4/1 was the first carbon composite Formula 1™ car. Light, strong and stiff, the carbon construction methods introduced by Bernard produced the greatest single contribution to driver safety of any innovation in the sport’s history.

Top ten finishes at the start of the season showed promise. By the Spanish Grand Prix, driver John Watson had found his form. A third in Spain and second in France was followed by a win at the British Grand Prix. It was McLaren’s first victory in 4 years, and the first ever win for a carbon composite race car.

When Watson crashed the MP4/1 doing 140mph at Monza, the controversy surrounding carbon fibre’s safety was put to rest. The car split in half. The engine and gearbox were torn off, but the carbon monocoque structure remained in tact. Unscathed, John Watson walked away.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
FORMULA 1™
Year of Production
1981
Designer
JOHN BARNARD
Examples Built
4
Engine
FORD COSWORTH DFV
Power Output
470BHP
Principal Drivers
J WATSON, A DE CESARIS

FORMULA 1™ McLAREN MP4/4 1988 

After five test laps in the new MP4/4, Alain Prost told Team Principal Ron Dennis the car would win the World Championship. It won 15 out of 16 races. Senna won 8 races to take the World Championship. Senna and Prost also took first and second place an astonishing 10 times.

In the Constructors’ Championship McLaren accumulated a phenomenal 199 points. Almost three times the tally of the runner up and just two points off the combined total of every other team on the grid.

According to Neil Trundle, McLaren’s Chief Mechanic, the MP4/4 was the perfect package. Lightweight, outstanding downforce, highly efficient brakes, fantastic suspension and a fabulous V6 Honda engine made it McLaren’s best-ever car.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
FORMULA 1™
Year of Production
1988
Designer
STEVE NICHOLS/GORDON MURRAY
Examples Built
6
Engine
HONDA RA168E TURBO V6
Power Output
900BHP
Principal Drivers
A SENNA, A PROST

1990s

ROAD CAR McLAREN F1 1993 - 1998 

Beautiful to look at and exhilaratingly quick, the record slaying McLaren F1 changed super car history. A technological masterpiece, it was the world’s first carbon fibre road car, the world’s fastest production car and is still the fastest naturally aspirated road car ever built.

Chief designer Gordon Murray and his handpicked team deliberated every millimetre of the F1’s design to create the world’s most thrilling car. Light, strong, safe and aerodynamically sublime, the legendary F1’s engineering was so far ahead of its time that its engineering highlights still feature on today’s McLarens.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
ROADCAR
Year of Production
1993 - 1998
Designer
GORDON MURRAY/PETER STEVENS
Examples Built
64
Engine
BMW V12
Power Output
627BHP
Principal Drivers

RACE CAR McLAREN F1 GTR 1995 

McLaren was born and raised on the track, so it was inevitable that we would create a race-ready version of the F1. Modified slightly from the road car, the F1 GTR was entered in Le Mans in June 1995, and achieved a feat no other debutant manufacturer has ever managed. As well as winning, McLaren dominated the podium and occupied four of the top five places. In just 24 magical hours, the greatest supercar of its generation had become the most successful British race car of modern times.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
RACE CAR
Year of Production
1995 - 1998
Designer
GORDON MURRAY/PETER STEVENS
Examples Built
9
Engine
BMW V12
Power Output
600BHP
Principal Drivers

FORMULA 1™ McLAREN MP4–13 1998 

From the first race of the ’98 season, designers Adrian Newey and Neil Oatley knew the team and the car were head and shoulders ahead of everyone else. At the Melbourne Grand Prix both David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen lapped the field, with Hakkinen winning the race. From first and second on the grid, they scored another memorable 1 and 2 at Hockenheim.

Driving superbly all year, Mika Hakkinen won eight races and clinched the Drivers’ World Championship with a flawless flag-to-flag victory in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. With Coulthard third in the standings, the team also took the Constructors’ title for the first time since 1991.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
FORMULA 1™
Year of Production
1998
Designer
NEIL OATLEY/ADRIAN NEWEY
Examples Built
7
Engine
MERCEDES-BENZ FO 110G V10
Power Output
760BHP
Principal Drivers
M HAKKINEN, D COULTHARD

2000s

FORMULA 1™ McLAREN MP4–23 2008 

An evolution of the MP4–22, engineers began work on the MP4–23 in May 2007. The car spent over 3,000 hours in the wind tunnel. Aerodynamic development continued throughout the season, and the team introduced an innovative four-deck front wing and nosebox winglets.

In one of the most dramatic conclusions to the championship, Lewis Hamilton took the Drivers’ title by a single point around the sweeping circuit of Interlagos, becoming the youngest champion in Formula 1™ history.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
FORMULA 1™
Year of Production
2008
Designer
McLAREN RACING DESIGN TEAM
Examples Built
6
Engine
MERCEDES-BENZ FO 108V V8
Power Output
765BHP
Principal Drivers
L HAMILTON, H KOVALAINEN

FORMULA 1™ McLAREN MP4–24 2009 

Keen to defend the 2008 Drivers’ Championship title, the new MP4-24 shared the 23’s fabulous power unit. It also had a battery of new technologies under the skin, including McLaren’s highly sophisticated kinetic energy recovery system (KERS).

 

Time spent winning the previous year had slowed development of the MP4-24. At the start of the new season the car was off the pace. In typical McLaren fashion, however, the development push went into overdrive. Improvements to the entire package resulted in a Lewis Hamilton’s win in Hungary, the first Grand Prix win for a KERS equipped Formula 1 car. Lewis won again from pole position a few weeks later in Singapore.

The KERS technology, which harvests energy during braking and releases it on demand, proved successful. Giving an 80hp boost when required and shaving up to half a second off per lap.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
FORMULA 1™
Year of Production
2009
Designer
McLAREN RACING
Examples Built
5
Engine
MERCEDES-BENZ FO 108W V8
Power Output
765BHP
Principal Drivers
L HAMILTON, H KOVALAINEN

ROAD CAR McLAREN 12C 2009- 2014 

The 12C was the first McLaren designed and built production car since the legendary F1. A pure McLaren, its innovative design and Formula 1™-sourced technologies made it one of the most versatile and potent supercars on the road.

Refined in the city and unmatched on the track, the 12C was built around a superlight carbon MonoCell and pioneered McLaren systems such as Brake Steer, Proactive Chassis Control and active aerodynamic technologies. It also featured a bespoke, McLaren designed engine and stunning dihedral doors.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
ROAD CAR
Year of Production
2009 - 2014
Designer
McLaren Studio
Examples Built
.
Engine
McLAREN M838T
Power Output
625 PS (616 BHP)
Principal Drivers

FORMULA 1™ McLAREN MP4–25 2010 

The F-Duct system on the MP4-25 is a classic example of McLaren out-thinking the regulations, and out-engineering the competition. Simple, effective and fast, the MP4-25 had a conduit running from the front to rear of the car. There was also a vent in the cockpit the driver could block with his left leg on long straights. Blocking the vent directed enough airflow over the rear wing to induce an aerodynamic stall – neutralising drag, downforce and improving top-end speed on the straights.

Using the driver’s leg to direct the flow didn’t contravene the regulations regarding movable aerodynamic devices. By incorporating the design into the car’s monocoque, it was very difficult for other teams to copy the idea. On the more open circuits, F-Duct proved very successful. Button and Hamilton placed first and second on three occasions, and McLaren placed second overall in the 2010 Constructors’ Championship.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
FORMULA 1™
Year of Production
2010
Designer
McLAREN RACING
Examples Built
4
Engine
MERCEDES-BENZ FO 108X V8
Power Output
765BHP
Principal Drivers
L HAMILTON, J BUTTON

ROAD CAR McLAREN P1™ 2013 

Intelligent, adaptive and astoundingly quick, the McLaren P1™ is the ultimate expression of our aerodynamic expertise. Sculpted by the wind and engineered to perfection, it’s the most adaptive, responsive and stimulating road car the world has ever seen.

Using world-class Formula 1™ technology, the McLaren P1™ changes its form to optimise its function. The result is a peerless driving experience that is so responsive the car feels like it’s alive.

SPECIFICATION

Type/Formula
ROAD CAR
Year of Production
2013
Designer
FRANK STEPHENSON, DAN PARRY-WILLIAMS
Examples Built
PRODUCTION LIMITED TO 375
Engine
McLAREN M838T + ELECTRIC MOTOR
Power Output
916PS (903 HP)
Principal Drivers

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