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A Quick Look at McLaren’s First Sports Car: The M1A

Submitted by on February 9, 2022

By Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica

In 1963 the McLaren Mark 1 or M1A appeared in Group 7. It was a replacement for the Zerex Special, a sports racer that used a Cooper F1 car from 1961 as its base and was, in fact, McLaren’s first sports car.

Bruce McLaren designed a tubular space frame chassis that was underpinned with magnesium alloy sheeting and topped with a fiberglass body. A tuned version of the aluminium 3.9-liter Traco-Oldsmobile V8 and four Weber carburetors generated 310 hp to propel a weight of only 551 kg. At the time, Traco Engineering was developing a 4.5 liter version of this engine.

A handful were built, and the McLaren iteration was debuted McLaren Racing in the Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport Park. As large scale production wasn’t possible for McLaren, Frank Nichols of Elva Cars was commissioned to produce a series of replicas known as the McLaren-Elva Mark 1. A total of 24 cars were built and raced by private teams

Marcel Hundscheid / Speed-O-Graphica

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