After the disappointments of the Ford Indy derived V8 and Serenissima V8 used in the 1966 McLaren M2B, the interim BRM V8 Formula 2 based McLaren M4B and BRM V12 powered M5A of 1967 Bruce Mclaren bought 5 Ford Cosworth DFV motors for the 1968 season which were used as in the integral structure of the McLaren M7A designed by Robin Herd, Gordon Coppuck and Bruce himself.
The M7A’s and 3 derivatives, M7B, M7C, and Alfa Romeo powered M7D were entered by the works team from 1968 to 1970. For 1968 the works Formula One McLaren’s were sponsored by Shell while the McLaren Can Am Cars were sponsored by Gulf.
Reigning World Champion Denny Hulme left Brabham to join McLaren in 1968 and on the M7A’s debut at the non Championship Race of Champions at Brands Hatch Bruce came first and team mate Denny Third. The M7A’s came in first and second at the non Championship International Trophy at Silverstone with Denny Hulme came edging the team founder.
On their third championship appearance, after Spain and Monaco, Bruce McLaren became the second man to win a Grand Prix bearing his own name crossing the line first to win the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix. It would prove to be his forth and final Grand Prix victory.
Denny Hulme won the Italian and Canadian Grand Prix towards the end of the season and finished third in the World Drivers Championship behind Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart, Bruce finished fifth in points standings. McLaren finished second in the constructors Championship behind Lotus but ahead of the Ken Tyrrell entered Matra driven by Jackie Stewart all three constructors used Ford Cosworth DFV motors.
In 1969 Bruce only drove an M7A in South Africa where he finished fifth before focusing on the M7C, which will be the subject of a future blog, which featured a more substantial monocoque. Denny meanwhile continued driving the M7A throughout the 1969 season winning the season finale in Mexico. Denny finished the season 6th in points with Bruce 3rd, the Mclaren team finished 4th and last of the Ford Cosworth DFV powered teams in the constructors championship.
The M7B fitted with outrigged panier fuel tanks made only one works championship appearance at the 1969 South African Grand Prix where Bruce Mclaren finished 5th. He later sold the car to Colin Crabbe who’s Antique Automobiles team entered it in four races for Vic Elford who finished a best fifth in the 1969 Dutch Grand Prix.
In 1970 McLaren adapted an M7 to take a non stressed Alfa Romeo V8 which became known as the M7D the car recorded three DNQ’s, did not qualify, a not classified finish in France and a DNS, did not start, in the 1970 British Grand Prix. After the first four events Nanni Galli took over the M7D from Andrea de Adamich, recording the cars third DNQ at the Italian Grand Prix.
Privately entered M7A were driven in three races by Dan Gurney for All American Racers in 1968, best finish forth in the US Grand Prix, and Basil van Rooyen for Team Lawson in the 1969 South African Grand Prix where he retired with brake problems after completing 12 laps.
Thanks for joining me on this “Third Time Lucky” edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !
06/07/13 Errata as Tim has pointed out below Bruce finished the 1960 season second in the World Drivers Championship and so his 3rd place in points in 1969 did not equal his career best as originally stated. Apologies for any confusion.