1. home
  2. news
  3. McLaren Brings Classic Race Cars to Pebble Beach

McLaren Brings Classic Race Cars to Pebble Beach

Vintage racers to be joined by something new

Abigail BassettWriter, Photographer

What started out as a race for historic cars and a small meet-up for collector cars has blossomed into a full-on supercar festival. McLaren, the newest player in the supercar world, is here to show off something new on the concept lawn on Sunday.

Ahead of that unveiling, McLaren is continuing to drive home its racing heritage. The automaker has come to the Monterey Peninsula with some rare and incredible machines, in part to build interest around the U.S. debut of the new 570GT road car and the 570GT4 racer. Here's a sampling of the cars they brought to Pebble Beach:

1966 M2B Formula 1 Car: The one that started it all

In 1966, McLaren sent their first Formula 1 car to North America to compete in the last two races of the season, carrying founder Bruce McLaren to a fifth-place finish at Watkins Glen, though it did not finish at the Mexican Grand Prix due to engine failure.

Its designer, Robin Herd, was an aerospace engineer that worked on the Concorde. He was recruited by McLaren to build race cars and used his aerospace know-how to create something light and fast. The chassis of this car is constructed of Mallite, a composite of balsa wood sandwiched between two sheets aluminum -- the same material was used in the Concorde. It gave the car a stiffer chassis and an edge over other competitors in the race. Powering the M2B is a 4.0-liter Ford Indy Car engine that had to be downsized to a 3.0-liter to meet F1 regulations. This is one of two made and is owned by a private collector.

1970 M8D Can-Am Championship Car: The car that killed Bruce McLaren

According to Keith Holland, curator of McLaren's collection and manager of Automotive Motorsports Operations, Bruce McLaren was drawn to Indy Car because it had fewer rules and regulations than F1. McLaren competed in Can-Am from 1966 until 1971 and began winning just two years after joining the circuit.

The M8D was the second iteration of McLaren's championship-winning M8B that won all 11 races in 1969 - and it was the car that ultimately killed him.

Because of regulations, the wing on the '69 car was moved to sit between the two vertical fins on the rear. The wing didn't behave the way McLaren had hoped and put downforce over the rear bodywork instead of the rear suspension. The hardware that held the wing in place failed and the wing came off at around 100 mph during testing at Goodwood. The car slid sideways into a marshal's post and instantly killed the 33-year old McLaren.

This particular car is currently waiting for an updated but period-correct engine. It is owned by a private collector.

1975 M23A: The car that won Formula 1
The M23A was an evolution of the Indianapolis 500 winner and first competed in the 1973 Formula 1 season. This car was one of the first to use adhesive in a Grand Prix chassis. In the hands of Emerson Fittipaldi, the M23A was an incredible performer, sending Fittipaldi to the F1 Driver's Championship and McLaren to the Constructors' Championship in 1974. It would go on to become one of the most successful cars in Formula 1 history.

This car is also owned by a private collector.

1984 M4-2/2: The car made of carbon fiber

This is the car that made McLaren a household name in racing. With powerhouse drivers like James Hunt, Jochen Mass, Nikki Lauda, Alain Prost, and Emerson Fittipaldi behind the wheel, McLaren couldn't be stopped. Considered to be the most successful chassis in Formula 1 history, the M4 marked the first application of carbon fiber technology by McLaren.

The owner of this car is collector Gregory Galdi, an entrepreneur based in Happauge, New York. He still drives it in historic races and said that driving it is a "very focusing experience."

"Sitting in the driver's seat feels like a special and honored place. To be in the same place where those incredible drivers sat and to feel the entire machine shake and come alive around you is a very organic experience," he told AUTOMOBILE. "I feel like I am the caretaker of it for the next generation so that they can know what it means to truly race."