Can-Am enjoyed many colourful descriptions. Terms like ‘brutal’ and ‘fire-breathing’ were thrown around, but the one you may not remember was ‘The Bruce and Denny Show’. It didn’t have the dramatic ring, but it was apt, as the combination of Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme conspired to hoist the New Zealand flag over America’s premier sports car series four times in succession, largely due to the McLaren M8.
During its formative days, Bruce McLaren Motor Racing inhabited a makeshift workshop on the premises of an earthmoving company in New Malden. There McLaren ran Tasman and Formula 2 Coopers before the decision was taken to chase success, and the prize money that went with it, in Can- Am. New premises were sought in Feltham and the first true McLaren, the M1, was born. While there were a smattering of podium finishes for McLaren himself and Chris Amon, Lola took a hold on Can-Am with John Surtees’ and Mark Donohue’s T70s pipping McLaren to the 1966 top spots.
Needing a step forward, McLaren gathered a design team boasting Robin Herd and Tyler Alexander to create a machine for 1967. The result was the Chevrolet-powered M6, featuring the first monocoque chassis constructed by McLaren, more aerodynamic bodywork and fuel injection for its V8 heart. The result was astounding, with McLaren and Hulme winning every round except one and McLaren had its Can-Am title.