2013 is the year of anniversaries. Aston Martin celebrated 100 years of existence, and McLaren celebrates 50 years dedicated to the motorsport and beyond by the automobile manufactures. Let’s analyze the story of one of the most popular British car manufacturers in an article entitled McLaren – 50 Years of History.
McLaren is a name that you may associate with Formula 1. That’s where it made history and has emerged as one of the leading players in this elite form of motorsports. Today, McLaren is more than that. It’s the creator of high-performance street cars. True, there aren’t many of them. But the ones until now have entered directly into the automotive history books. This year, McLaren celebrates 50 years of existence. More specifically, this will happen on September 2, 2013, and the entire McLaren team will think of Bruce McLaren, the New Zealander who gave life to this special brand.
McLaren History – Introducing Bruce McLaren
McLaren. This is the name of Bruce McLaren, a young lad from New Zealand passionate about cars and racing. Bruce was a talented pilot, but he didn’t spent enough time among us. Born in 1937 in Auckland, he began at an early age to be interested about cars. At just 14 years he modified an Austin 7 using it for the coastal racing. He then climbed the stairs and was noticed in the Grand Prix of New Zealand in 1958 by Jack Brabham.
That’s how he entered in the “Driver to Europe” program, supported by the New Zealand International Grand Prix. McLaren goes to Europe and joins the Cooper team, where he remained for seven years. In 1959 Bruce wins the United States Grand Prix at the age of only 22 years and 80 days. He was the youngest winner in a F1 race at the time. In 1962, Bruce also won the Grand Prix of Monaco, and a year later he established Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd. Although he competed for a while in the Cooper cars, in 1965 announced that he would compete for his team with Chris Amon, another pilot from New Zealand.
McLaren was going to win for the fourth time in his career, driving a car he created, the race at Spa in 1968. Bruce had to try the Can-Am championship, very popular in the United States and Canada. On June 2, 1970, Bruce McLaren died when a piece of the back of the M8D model destabilized at high speed. The car left the circuit and hitted a wall. Unfortunately, he lost his life at just 32 years, testing a car for the Can-Am championship.
McLaren History – McLaren Formula 1
McLaren have become a prominent name on the international motorsport stage. First in the Can-Am, where McLaren dominated between 1967 and 1971. The U.S mirage drew the famous McLaren into the 500 miles race at Indianapolis winning it in 1972, 1974 and 1976. But Formula 1 has always remained the main playground for McLaren. The team debut takes place in the F1 race at Monaco in 1966.
Teddy Mayer became the new head of the team after the death of Bruce McLaren and the first title in the Formula 1 constructors has been won in 1974 with Emerson Fittipaldi and James Hunt. 1974 is also the year when McLaren adopted the famous red and white colors, due to a partnership with the Marlboro brand. In 1981 McLaren merged with Project Four Racing, a company founded by Ron Dennis.
Ron Dennis became the new head of the team and the man whose fate remained tied for the team until today. And Dennis opened an era of victories and famous associations in Formula 1. McLaren used Porsche and Honda engines and pilots as Niki Lauda, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna became champions at the wheels of McLaren race cars. In more recent times, pilots like Mika Hakkinen and Lewis Hamilton were the names that became popular by using the McLaren cars.
From 1966 until today, McLaren has won 182 races in Formula 1, has obtained 155 pole positions and 151 of the brand’s racing cars made the fastest lap. As a detail, McLaren recorded in 2012 the shortest time ever for the tires change in Formula 1: 2.31 seconds at Hockenheim.
McLaren History – McLaren street cars
The division dedicated to the street cars was created in 1989 under the name of McLaren Cars. But attempts to create a car dedicated to the street are older.
McLaren History – M6GT McLaren (1970)
Bruce McLaren started the first project of this kind. The M6GT model was developed from a M6 racing car dedicated to the Can-Am championship. Bruce wanted to enroll M6GT at Le Mans, and it had to build and approve 50 copies. Because of some homologation issues, the project was abandoned. That doesn’t meant that McLaren gave up. He wanted to use this model on the streets and produce a cadence of 250 cars per year. In fact, only two cars were built. One of them was the personal car of Bruce McLaren until his death, when the project was abandoned.
McLaren History – McLaren M81 Mustang (1980)
A lesser known project is a Ford Mustang developed by McLaren in 1980 for the Special Vehicle Operations (SVO), a brand new division from Ford. McLaren Mustang had 175 hp and the plan was the creation of 250 cars, but the price of $25,000 limited the production to only 10 copies, including the prototype.
McLaren History – McLaren F1 (1993)
There’s not much to say about McLaren F1 as I’m sure you still have a poster on your wall with this car. McLaren also appealed the street car segment, but in a characteristic style. They created an incredible supercar that amazed and still amazes the automotive enthusiasts. McLaren F1 was launched in 1993, a three-seater supercar and the steering placed in the center of the cockpit, just as a single user. The performance of this model that used a BMW V12 engine of 6.0 liters and 630 hp are/were fantastic: only 3 seconds needed to reach 100 km/h (60 mph). McLaren F1 held the speed record for a street car until 2005, with a top speed of 391 km/hour (282.8 mph). The McLaren flagship model was designed and developed by Gordon Murray.
McLaren History – Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR(2003)
Then, McLaren collaborated with Mercedes-Benz to create the McLaren SLR model. The collaboration began in 1999 when the two companies had a very close relationship. Mercedes provided the engines used by McLaren in Formula 1, and DaimlerChrysler was one of the McLaren Group shareholders. It was launched in 2003 and had various versions following, including a convertible, a 722 Edition and a Stirling Moss Edition. Subsequently, the McLaren Cars division turns into McLaren Automotive in 2010 and the first product launched was McLaren MP4-12C.
McLaren History – McLaren MP4-12C (2010)
A new supercar, a new approach: MP4-12C was the first attempt to create a McLaren F1 supercar. And managed, as MP4-12C is appreciated by all the press. A turbocharged 3.8-liter V8 engine that develops 600 hp. It was then derived in a Spider version and a GT3 version for the circuit.
McLaren MP4-12C Spider photo gallery
McLaren History – McLaren P1 (2013)
At the Paris Auto Show in September 2013, McLaren presented a new supecar. The new McLaren P1 stunned the audience by its curves and the unusual design, but to see what this new supercar it is capable of we’ll have to wait a little. It is 23% faster than McLaren F1, it has a top speed limited at 350 km/h, and the price starts from £866,000 (OTR). To remain an exclusive model, McLaren P1 will be built in only 375 copies.
For more details regarding P1 please read: Geneva 2013 Live: McLaren P1- Just WOW !!!
This concludes our AUTO Stories: McLaren – 50 Years of History