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Super Beast! The Original McLaren Supercar

The McLaren M6GT Is The Original McLaren Supercar!

Updated September 27, 2018

This is not, repeat, not a kit car. Though copied many times this is the one and only McLaren M6GT and it’s one of the gnarliest cars ever to hit the road.

It’s also the progenitor of all McLaren sports cars to follow: McLaren F1, the 12C, the 650 and 675 – even the legendary McLaren P1 all owe their existence to the M6GT.

McLaren M6GT 1

As stated on the McLaren website: Bruce McLaren’s vision for the M6GT is the genesis for all McLaren road cars. Based on the latest race technology, the M6GT was superlight, blisteringly quick, confidence inspiring and safe.

McLaren M6GT 2

The progression of McLaren sports cars beginning with the M6GT

The McLaren M6GT never competed as a race car, so it was converted to Bruce McLaren’s personal transportation  with really nothing more than a full set of lights and some license plates. He drove it until his death in a testing accident in June, 1970 (he was just 32 years old).

McLaren M6GT 3

Bruce McLaren in front of his home with his daily driver.

McLaren M6GT 4

Bruce relaxing behind the wheel of the M6GT on his front drive.

While Bruce’s personal car was the only McLaren-constructed M6GT, Trojan, the company that constructed customer chassis, built two additional M6GT, making for a total series of three cars.

McLaren M6GT 5

One of the two Trojan-built M6GTs prep’d for the London Motor Show

A little back story: The year was 1969 and the rules for international endurance races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring, and 24 Hours of Daytona had been changed. The new stars were to be the small, ultra-quick 3.0L prototypes Porsche and Ferrari were developing. To the fill the fields the rulesmakers would allow cars of which at least 50 had been manufactured to use 5.0 liter engines. This extended the life of the Ford GT40 a few more seasons.

McLaren M6GT 6

The interior of the M6GT is pure race car on the inside as well.

McLaren, who was then dominating the unlimited displacement, wide-open Can-Am series (and would go on win the Indy 500 three times and, of course, dominate Formula 1 for many years) had already around 17 or 18 M6A/B chassis in existence that could qualify against the required 50. All that would be needed is a coupe body. But after study, McLaren determined the production of the coupe race car would draw too much needed resources from the Can-Am, F1, and Indy projects.

McLaren M6GT 7

The McLaren M6A on which the M6GT was based

For the 1969 season the rulesmakers changed the requirement for participation and lowered the number of cars to be built to 25. This opened the door for Ferrari to build its 512S and Porsche its dominating 917. Perhaps against competition like the aging Ford GT40 and the similar Can-Am based Lola T-70 the McLaren M6GT may have been competitive. Up against the combined might of the Porsche factory and the JW Racing organization, it’s unlikely McLaren would have captured many wins.

McLaren M6GT 8

An Al Bartz built 450 HP Trans-Am type motor replaced the Can-Am 7.0L V-8 in the 1,700 lb. M6GT. It was still capable of 0-60 in four seconds

What remains is a fascinating piece of history – the car that inspired Gordon Murray to design the first McLaren F1 supercar.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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