1971 McLaren M8E


Bruce Leslie McLaren was born on the 30th August 1937 in Auckland, New Zealand. He was born with motor racing in his veins. From the young age of 14 he was racing cars and achieved great success at an early age. McLaren’s talent was noted by none other than Jack Brabham, who was racing for Cooper back in the late 1950’s. McLaren got a seat driving a Cooper T43 at the 1958 New Zealand Grand Prix where he performed exceptionally well before being forced to retire after completing 71 laps of the 75 lap race. He was selected as ‘Driver to Europe’ by NZIGP Association and headed to England in March 1958 to drive for John Cooper.

Success came quickly for Bruce McLaren and he won the 1959 United States Grand Prix at age 22 years 104 days, becoming the youngest ever GP winner at that time. He then went on to win the first race of the 1960 Formula One season, the Argentine Grand Prix and he would finish runner up in the championship that year to Brabham.

Whilst still racing for Cooper, he set up Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd in 1963. McLaren left Cooper at the end of 1965 and announced his own Formula One racing team, with co-driver and fellow Kiwi Chris Amon. It was a tough few years as McLaren found its feet, however, the hard work eventually paid off and Bruce McLaren took his fourth career win, claiming victory in the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in his McLaren-Ford. This was the team’s first Grand Prix win. Another Kiwi, Denny Hulme, joined McLaren for the 1968 season and won twice in the McLaren-Ford that year with McLaren finishing second in the constructor’s championship behind Lotus-Ford.  In 1966 McLaren and co-driver Chris Amon won the controversial Le Mans 24 Hours in a Ford GT40.

Bruce McLaren was a great driver, however, he was probably an even better constructor. McLaren loved the evolving and very popular Can-Am Series and achieved great success winning five consecutive championships from 1967 to 1971. McLaren himself won the championship in 1967 and 1969 with team mate Denny Hulme winning in 1968 and 1970. American, Peter Revson completed the quintuple winning the championship in 1971.

Sadly, Bruce McLaren died on the 2nd June 1970 while testing a Can-Am car at Goodwood. Teddy Meyer took control of McLaren and the legacy lived on with McLaren becoming an even more dominant force in motor racing. McLaren decided to abandon Can-Am at the end of 1972 and focus solely on Formula One. When the original Can-Am series ceased at the end of 1974, McLaren was by far the most successful constructor, with an incredible 43 race wins.

Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1971 McLaren M8E Can-Am 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.

Today this McLaren M8E presents immaculately and is in ‘race ready’ condition.

Accompanying the car is a massive history file, including lots of period information and photographs. Importantly, the car has a CAMS log book and Certificate of Description (COD) which were issued on the 28th February 2012.

The car was validated by Barry Lock, who worked for McLaren from 1967 to 1974 and again briefly in 1975. Barry was heavily involved with the McLaren M8E’s and he was one of three McLaren employees who liaised with Trojan, who built the customer cars for McLaren. Barry’s Survey Report issued in October 2019 is on file.

There is a significant inventory of spare parts, including a spare engine, which can be purchased with the car.

McLaren dominated Can-Am racing in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s and these cars are simply ‘monsters of the track’! With essentially no restrictions they were faster than Formula One cars in period.

A car of this calibre is seldom offered for sale in Australia. A truly unique opportunity.


  • Purchased new by Roy Woods to compete in the 1971 Can-Am Series.
  • Raced by Vic Elford with some success finishing 3rd in Round 6 and 4th in Round 7, but damaged in Round 9 of the 1971 Can-Am series and subsequently rebuilt.
  • Known and documented history passing through a number of owners until restored from 1987 – 1995.
  • Invited to appear at the 2006 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
  • Australian import approval on file dated 28 June 2011.
  • CAMS historic log book and COD issued 28th February 2012.
  • Campaigned at historic motorsports events in Australia 2012 – 2016.
  • Taken to The Monterey PreReunion and The Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, California, USA in August 2016.
  • Sold to the current owner in May 2019.
  • Car validated by Barry Lock, who worked for McLaren from 1967 to 1974 and again briefly in 1975. Barry’s Survey Report issued in October 2019 is on file.

There are some fabulous videos of the car online. See:

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlfiT4MRFnM
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17-lKnaGbPE
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_hKUjxYZxI



  • -
  • McLaren M8E
  • 1971
  • Race Car
  • Manual
  • N/A
  • 8082cc

Enquire about this car