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Lot 218: 1965 McLaren Chevrolet M1A Sports-Racing Two-Seater

Goodwood Revival, Bonhams (1 September 2006)

This beautifully presented original model McLaren M1A is finished in perhaps the most attractive of all contemporary works team livery, the jet black and silver of New Zealand, Bruce McLaren’s homeland. To this extent it recalls the original prototype McLaren-Oldsmobile M1A of late 1964, with which Bruce followed up earlier North American success that season in his ex-Roger Penske McLaren-Cooper-Oldsmobile ‘Jolly Green Giant’ interim car. The new McLaren-Oldsmobile Mark I had been completed in September 1964, wearing aluminium bodywork styled by Tony Hilder, formerly with Specialised Mouldings Ltd. It clothed a simple low-slung multi-tubular spaceframe chassis welded-up from both round and square-section mild steel stock, and stiffened by alloy-sheet stress panels which were bonded and riveted in place to stiffen the undertray and lateral-bulkhead areas. Oil and water ran through the main-frame longerons. Front suspension used narrow-based lower wishbones and very wide-based upper wishbones with the rear pick-ups situated very close to the dash panel. At the rear, reversed lower wishbones and single top links were used, with twin parallel radius rods running forward to the frame. Girling 11.5-inch diameter disc brakes were used at the front, 10.75-inch at the rear. The prototype rode on Cooper cast spoked wheels but Owen Maddock designed the definitive original McLaren four-spoke cast magnesium wheels for these cars and they were the strongest of their type at that time.

This new Mark I McLaren sports-racing car was uncomplicated and light and the team believed it would be competitive with its lightweight but powerful aluminium-block Oldsmobile V8 engine. Traco Engineering in California stretched these power units to 4.5-litres capacity to replace Bruce’s original 3.9-litre, and with Hewland HD transmission the new car was immediately a threat within its class.

Bruce made his debut in the prototype car at the Canadian Grand Prix for sports cars, at Mosport Park, on September 26, 1964. Bruce led until the throttle linkage fell apart, finishing third. He then led the major Riverside race in October, until a hose blew-off a fitting which Bruce had made himself. He admitted he could not complain. The little works team had considered putting the Mark I into production for customer sale, but the sheer logistics and manpower required deterred them. Instead they made an agreement with Peter Agg’s Trojan Group which had just absorbed the Elva Cars concern, and the Mark I went into production as the McLaren-Elva-Oldsmobile, to be displayed at the forthcoming 1965 London Racing Car Show, in January.

In Trojan’s former Elva factory at Rye, Sussex, 24 production M1A cars were assembled, some with 4.7-litre Ford V8 engines as an alternative to the 4.5-litre lightweight Olds unit. John Coombs became McLaren-Elva’s first customer with a car for Graham Hill to drive, winning at Mallory Park on Whit-Sunday. This particular car is understood to have been supplied to American former Cooper Monaco-Ford driver George Wintersteen, fitted with a 5.5-litre Chevrolet V8 engine. In addition to appearances in SCCA USRRC events he also raced the car in the Guards Trophy at Brands Hatch on August 30 – Bruce McLaren’s birthday – and he also featured in his silver-grey liveried M1A at Laguna Seca and Riverside later that year.

Documents in the file accompanying this Lot indicate that this car was then sold from George Wintersteen to Canadian owner/driver John Cordts who campaigned it through 1966-67. We are advised that the car remained in Canada for several more years, until 1979 when it was sold back into the United States by Toronto-based Historic car collector and enthusiast Jack Boxstrom. A note in the file records its sale by him to former Lister sports car owner Dr Ray Stoutenberg of Manteo, North Carolina. It was decsirbed at the time as being “…one 1965 McLaren (English made) race car chassis serial 20/10 in partially disassembled, ‘as is’ condition…”. Dr Stoutenberg then exchanged the car on February 26, 1982 with Motor Classic Corporation of White Plains, New York, for a 1979 Porsche 911SC…

The car was beautifully restored with an 010 series Chevrolet block V8 engine bored-out to 366 cubic inches displacement, featuring Diamond pistons, Crower rods, Crane camshaft, LT-1 slant plug heads and breathing through four 48IDA Weber carburettors. A Hewland LG600 5-speed gearbox was fitted and the car was sold by Motor Classic Corp on November 29, 1985 to Peter Kaus of Frankfurt, West Germany, “as is – original and going”. The car was shipped from the US to the port of Antwerp, confirmatory documents of lading being dated February 2, 1986.

Although it is has plainly not been used for many years to any significant extent, this is a mouth-wateringly beautiful McLaren-Chevrolet M1A. It is most handsomely presented – as described – in approximate 1964 McLaren works team livery, and it is accompanied by evidence that it began life as the customer car supplied new to American private owner/driver George Wintersteen.

In common with its sister cars offered here from such long-term museum preservation, this McLaren-Chevrolet will require specialist mechanical inspection and preparation before any attempt is made to start or to drive it in earnest.

It is in all other respects a most attractive and exciting example of the original ‘tube-framed’ McLaren series of immediate pre-CanAm cars and for an enthusiastic new owner it is sure to attract enormous interest from the organisers of many such current ‘blue chip’ Historic race meetings such as the Goodwood Festival and the Goodwood Revival.

Lot Details
Auction Goodwood Revival
Bonhams, Chichester, Sussex
TypeCar
Lot Number218
Estimate£105000-£120000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£115000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£128000
Year1965
Condition rating0
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number'20/10'
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors