A gorgeous 1971 McLaren M8E Race Car is for sale in the Motorsport Prospects Marketplace from Old Timer Australia. Built by the legendary Bruce McLaren and his team, this is an absolute beast of a race car clad in a bright yellow livery. Here is the story of this car as told by Old Timer Australia.
Background to the 1971 McLaren M8E Race Car
In 1968 Bruce McLaren and his team developed the McLaren M8A for that years Can-Am season. It was an evolution of the M6A (which had won the championship in 1967) and had an all-aluminium 7 litre Chevrolet big block V8 engine. The engines were built by Gary Knutson and developed around 620hp. For the 1969 season the M8B was developed, it had a slightly upgraded engine which now developed 630 hp.
A partnership was created between Bruce McLaren Racing and the Racing Division of Trojan Limited to build the M8C, which was a customer version of the M8A,. Going forward, Trojan would build all customer cars and Bruce McLaren Racing would build the works cars.
The 1970 season saw the introduction of the M8D. The engine was enlarged to 6.7 litres and now produced 670 hp. For the 1971 season McLaren introduced another customer car, the M8E. It was based on the M8B and again built exclusively by Trojan Limited.
The final works car was the M8F which was also introduced in 1971. It now had an 8 litre engine which produced 740 hp. The final customer car was the M8FP which was based on the M8F.
Total McLaren M8 production comprised of 2x M8A’s and 1x spare tub, 2x M8B’s and 1x spare tub, 10x M8C’s, 4x M8D’s, 11x M8E’s (plus 2x unnumbered tubs’) and 2x M8F’s.
The McLaren M8E offered for sale is chassis number M8E-80-04. The car was purchased by Roy Woods of Roy Woods Racing Inc (US) to complete in the 1971 Can-Am season. The car was entered as part of the ARA American Racing Associates team bearing number 29. They missed out on the first two races but by round 3 at the Road Atlanta circuit, the car was ready to compete with Vic Elford the driver. Unfortunately, problems with the oil pressure and the clutch resulted in a DNF.
Round 4 at Watkins Glen gave the team a far better result, the car qualified 16th and finished 8th. Round 5 at the Mid-Ohio circuit resulted in another DNF, however, this time it wasn’t a problem with the car. Exhaustion forced Elford to retire the car. Round 6 at the Road of America circuit saw the car qualify in 5th place and finish the race in 3rd position. During the next round at Donnybrook Vic Elford almost repeated the result from the previous round. This time he qualified 6th and finished 4th. For reasons unknown, the car didn’t participate in round 8.
Round 9 took place at the famous Laguna Seca circuit. Unfortunately, disaster struck in the preceding practice on Thursday. Elford crashed the car, cannoning backwards at over 100mph into a bridge abutment. Fortunately, Elford suffered only minor injuries, but the tub was destroyed and unrepairable. Elford was given an M8D for the race. Roy Woods Racing ordered a new M8E tub and managed to get the car ready for the next round.
At round 10 at the Riverside circuit Elford retained the M8D, so Sam Posey drove the M8E, qualifying 7th and finishing 4th.
At the end of the season the car was sold to William ‘Bill’ Cuddy. Cuddy entered the car into three rounds of the 1972 Can-Am season. Alan Johnson raced the car in round 4 at the Mid-Ohio circuit and Bill Cuddy raced the car in round 8 at Laguna Seca and in round 9 at Riverside.
In 1973 Cuddy entered the car for only one race, being round 7 at Laguna Seca. After the 1973 season he sold the car to Dick Workman. Over the next few years, the car changed hands a few times. Workman sold it to Lynn Sinclair, who sold it to Merle Brennan who purchased the car for parts for his M8F, but soon discovered the parts were not interchangeable. He sold the car back to Workman minus the front and rear suspension.
Dick Workman returned the car to race ready and competed in the 1977 Can-Am series. The car was entered as an M8L, the L possibly referring to the Lola uprights and suspension Workman had fitted to the car.
In 1979 the car was sold to Chuck Haines from Can-Am Cars Ltd. He went on a journey to have the car restored to its original specification, which included painting the car in its original colour scheme of yellow with red livery, exactly as it was raced by Vic Elford in 1971. The majority of the work was done by the Symbolic Motor Car Company in San Diego, California.
The car was invited to appear at the 2006 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance which was celebrating the 40th anniversary of Can-Am.
In 2011 the car was sold by Haines to an Australian enthusiast. There is an import approval on file dated 28th June 2011 and the car was subsequently imported here. The car was enjoyed for the next 8 years, which also included a return to Laguna Seca. The car was taken to The Monterey PreReunion and The Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California, USA in August 2016.
The current owner acquired M8E-80-04 in 2019 and now wants to go in a different direction with his car collection.
For More Information
You can contact Old Timer Australia directly at this link for more information on how to purchase this incredible race car.