One currently for sale
Originality is the hallmark of McLaren M23 chassis 12, being sold by David Clark of Taylor and Crawley in London. The car, the last M23 to be entered in a grand prix by the works team, has, he says, been “raced only sparingly” in the historic ranks since it was Jochen Mass’s car for six races in 1977.
“It has the original paint on the original bodywork,” says Clark, a collector, driver and dealer, who has had the car for a couple of years. “It has the proper long-stroke Cosworth DFV that it would have had back in the day, not one of the later whizz-bang short-strokes.”
Clark has had a few M23s. But this one, he says, is “one of the coolest” courtesy of that originality. He believes the car has never had an accident of any seriousness.
Chassis 12 came on stream at the 1977 US Grand Prix West at Long Beach in April, Mass racing it through to the French GP at Dijon in July. A second place at Anderstorp in Sweden was the German’s best result before he moved over to the new McLaren M26. The only subsequent M23 was chassis 14 — there was no unlucky 13. Privateer Brett Lunger raced it in the second half of 1977 and then the opening races of 1978.
Clark is asking $2.2 million (£1.68m), which he suggests isn’t “big money”. That’s because of who drove it in period.
“There would be a bit more of a buzz about it if it was an ex-James Hunt car,” he says, “and it would definitely be worth a fair bit more.”
Taylor and Crawley, Marylebone, London. Tel: 020 7823 2599
In the workshop
Hall & Hall got under the skin of the car that carried James Hunt toward his world championship title
One previously restored
M23, chassis 6, underwent a ground-up restoration at historic single-seater specialist Hall & Hall back in the late 2000s. The car in which James Hunt won twice in his title-winning season was well used, both in period and in the historic ranks, when it arrived at the company’s Lincolnshire workshops.
“It was a tired car when it came to us,” says Rob Hall, who runs the business with father Rick. “The rebuild involved a complete strip-down of the monocoque. It is important to crack test the bulkheads and undertake repairs if necessary. The monocoque skins that join them together are what takes the strain, so they are what you have to replace. But we aim to preserve as well as restore.”
Hall & Hall ran the car for owner Andrea Burani in three Monaco Historic Grands Prix and the FIA Masters series, although the car has been largely inactive in recent years.
That contrasts with its contemporary life. Chassis 6 made a winning debut at the 1974 Argentine GP and was still going strong in ’76, when Hunt won with it in France and Germany (and also on the road at Brands Hatch before disqualification). Emilio de Villota then raced the car in a handful of GPs and rounds of the ShellSport Group 8 ‘libre’ series and the Aurora British F1 Championship in 1977-78. The traits that made the M23 successful in the 1970s are relevant today, reckons Hall.
“The car has a big footprint; it’s long and wide,” he says. “That makes it very stable and instils confidence.”
Hall & Hall, Bourne, Lincs. Tel: 01778 392562