1970 McLaren M10B
Constructed by Trojan for customers following the success of the M10A in Formula 5000. As much a driver favorite as it was with fans.
1970 McLaren M8D
If ever a team suffered a mixed year, in 1970 it was McLaren. The loss of its founder, namesake and guiding genius would have crushed most others. But Bruce’s spirit persevered, and the team, with Denny Hulme and the M8D, dominated the 1970 Can-Am season. An assist goes out to Dan Gurney, another legend in the making, by stepping in to replace a legend. The M8D may well be the quintessential Can-Am car of all time.
1972 McLaren M16B
Bruce always wanted one of his cars to win the Indianapolis 500. It took Mark Donohue and Team Penske to oblige and give McLaren the first of three wins as a constructor at the Brickyard.
1972 McLaren M20
The most awesome Can-Am failure ever built. Few normally aspirated race cars in history shook the ground the way the 8.1-liter, aluminum-powered M20 did. The contrast between the quieter turbo power of the Porsche 917/10 could not have been more evident. As the 1972 season would show, McLaren didn’t have the resources to go to battle with Porsche on a consistent basis. Bowing out of Can-Am, the focus now became relentless on open-wheel racing.
1973 McLaren M23
Few F1 cars of the current era can claim the lifespan of the M23. The Gordon Coppuck design went through a series of developmental work on the suspension but used the basic monocoque for three seasons. The addition of Emerson Fittipaldi to the team resulted in a long-standing partnership with Marlboro and the familiar red and white colors were to be among the most memorable for years. Fittipaldi took the World Championship in 1974 and in 1976. Fans were also treated to an incredible battle between the Ferrari 312T of Niki Lauda and the M23 of James Hunt, with Hunt claiming the title at the last race of the season in Japan.
1981 McLaren MP4/1
The uneasy merger of McLaren and Project Four as headed by Ron Dennis came down to a matter of sponsorship. Marlboro was eager for the merge, and the arrival of the brilliant—but at times difficult—designer John Barnard meant walking papers for Gordon Coppuck. McLaren International, as the new merger became known, came straight out of the gate with a truly revolutionary car. John Barnard was a designer with vision and complete faith in his abilities, whether proven correct or not. In the case of the MP4/1, the path was wide open. Building the first complete carbon-fiber F1 car became Barnard’s mission and through it he made a commanding statement.
1984 McLaren MP4/2
Who could have imagined that the company that defeated McLaren in Can-Am would be the one to design—as an outside contractor—the motor that would come to dominate? The Porsche TAG V6 turbo powered the MP4/2 and its variations to victory after victory, something that World Champions Niki Lauda and Alain Prost came to appreciate.
1988 McLaren MP4/4
The departure of John Barnard at the end of 1986 brought a number changes to McLaren. While this may have been considered a distraction to a team known for such success, Steve Nichols and Gordon Murray were able to continue in the winning direction. The mating of the Honda turbo V6 to the MP4/4 gave the team an almost perfect season, recording 15 out of 16 races on the top step of the podium. The drivers were some guy nicknamed The Professor and somebody from Brazil named Ayrton.
1993 McLaren MP4/8
A very good but underpowered race car due to the use of a Ford customer version HB 3.5-liter V8. Williams had Renault power and the rest of the field struggled to keep pace. Although the MP4/8 did achieve several wins that season, its inclusion comes down to it being Senna’s final year with the team and what many consider one of the great drives in F1 history, the victory at Donnington. Maybe the best… ever.
1993 McLaren F1
A road car from McLaren, part two. Ron Dennis talking to Gordon Murray about the supercars on the market—where was the real stuff, the innovations, and so on?
A later conversation between Murray and designer/stylist genius Peter Stevens. Cut to Monaco in May of 1993 and the launch of the McLaren F1, a center-steering, three-passenger road car that remains the supercar standard.
1995 McLaren F1 GTR
While you’re at it, build a few to race in the BPR Series and perhaps we will go to Le Mans. Ron Dennis enlists Paul Lanzante to manage the effort at La Sarthe and McLaren claims the 24 Heures du Mans in its first attempt.
1998 McLaren MP4/13
McLaren appeared to be in the wilderness after the departure of Senna. In addition, the loss of Marlboro to Ferrari meant the change to a new color and major sponsor. Ford power gave way to a short-term trial with Peugeot and eventually a long-term deal with Mercedes-Benz. The most positive change was the arrival of ex-Williams designer Adrian Newey. He and his team set about turning things around quickly and delivered. Mika Hakkinen claimed the Drivers title and the Constructors title returned to McLaren. Mika also claimed the Driver’s crown again in 1999.
Everything in motorsport is cyclical, including success and failure. The past decade has seen the team from Woking have its share of both. While Lewis Hamilton won the drivers title in 2008, the battle for the coveted constructors crown has never been more competitive. Design and innovation continue to be at the forefront, and with constant focus on the engineering tasks at hand, the spirit of Bruce McLaren lives on.