Tag Archives: Coppuck

Tyre Contract For Sale – Spirit Cosworth 101D

There is no room for sentimentality in sport even if one has designed a triple Indy 500 winning Indy Car and a car that has secured one constructors World Championship and two world drivers championships after 4 year of steady decline to the bottom of the top ten one must expect ones sponsors to either walk or agree a merger with an up and coming team.

Such was the situation Gordon Coppuck found himself in at McLaren at the end of the 1980 season when sponsors Phillip Morris agreed to fund a merger between the upstart Project Four hither to Formula Two team headed by former Brabham mechanic Ron Dennis and McLaren who had not won a race since the Japanese Grand Prix in 1977.

Part of the deal would include Ron hiring John Barnard to design a new car with a fully composite chassis leaving Gordon little alternative to seek employment else where. Gordon joined his former colleague and McLaren employee Robin Herd at March for 1982 and after a year there became a founding member of a new Formula 2 team with March Formula 2 team manager John Wickham which was funded by Philip Morris and was to be powered by potent 2 litre Honda V6 engines with Belgian Thierry Boutsen and Swede Stefan Johansson as drivers.

Thierry won three races and finished third in the 1982 F2 championship behind March BMW drivers Corrado Fabi and Johnny Cecotto but more importantly for the Spirit team they had outscored the similarly powered Ralts of Kenny Acheson and Dr Jonathon Palmer so that when Honda was deciding on which team to partner in their planned for 1983 entry into Formula One it was easy to go with Spirit.

Withdrawing completely from Formula 2, having won the championship with Geoff Lees in 1981, Honda developed it’s turbocharged 1.5 litre V6 engine while Spirit adapted one of it’s Formula 2 chassis to take the engine while simultaneously working on today’s featured design the 101 from scratch.

Spirit Cosworth 101D, Mark Williams, Silverstone Classic,

Spirit entered a limited programme of six races mid way through the 1983 season and Stefan Johansson managed to qualify the adapted Formula 2 201 and later 201C for all the races entered retiring from three of them and finishing a season best 7th in Holland. The 101 was ready for the last two of this programme but was left unraced.

For 1984 the team had hoped to retain the Honda Engines and attract 1972 and 1974 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi out of retirement, but Honda decided to go with the more established Williams team who had the slightly younger 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg already on their books.

Wickham and Coppuck wasted little time and did a deal to run the 4 cylinder turbocharged Hart 415T engines, that had hitherto been developed exclusively with Toleman since 1980 and Spirit adapted the unraced 101 in time for Emerson to test before the season got underway.

Emerson decided that this was not what he really wanted and so Mauro Baldi was entered for the first six races of the season scoring 8th places finishes in South Africa and San Marino before Huub Rothengatter was entered for the next eight races. With Hart motors in short supply Huub failed to qualify with a Cosworth DFV installed in Detroit but finished a best 8th in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on his final start in the car.

Mauro returned to the seat for the final two races of the 1984 season finishing 8th in the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch.

For 1985 Mauro was retained to drive the 101, now in D spec with longer side pods, as was a supply of Hart engines and Pirelli tyres, which would become significant because fellow Hart powered team Toleman had switched from Pirelli to Michelin part way through the 1984 season and when Michelin withdrew from Formula One at the end of 1981 neither Goodyear or Pirelli were prepared to step in and supply tyres to the team.

Without tyres Toleman had to withdraw from the first three races of the 1985 season while Mauro could do no better than qualify 24th for the first two races of the season, after qualifying last at San Marino nearly 10 seconds off the pace and posting it’s third consecutive retirement Spirit decided to call it a day and sold their contract for a supply of Pirelli Tyres to Toleman who could do no better than post one 12th and one 14th place finish all season though Teo Fabi did qualify on pole in Germany which helped secure the teams take over by sponsor Benetton at the end of the season.

Mark Williams is seen at the wheel of the 101D powered by a Cosworth DFV motor at Silverstone Classic a couple of years ago.

Thanks for joining me on this “Tyre Contract For Sale” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Sherman’s M12 – McLaren M12 #60-14

Following the success of his ’67 and ’68 Can Am unlimited sports car programmes, which would net championship success from 1967 to 1971, Bruce McLaren turned his attention to building a GT Coupé version of his Can Am winning Chevrolet powered M6 roadster.

McLaren M12, Goodwood Festival of Speed

According to McLaren designer Gordon Coppuck the initial idea was for the M6GT to become a racer against the likes of the Ford GT40, later Ferrari 512 and Porsche 917 before McLaren realised they could not meet the minimum production requirements for the World Sports Car series.

McLaren M12, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Bruce and Gordon then continued working on the project as a road car project and the Prototype was finished in 1969 and received much adulation as Bruce proceeded to use it as his daily driver.

McLaren M12, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Unfortunately Bruce was killed testing his new 1970 Can Am Challenger at Goodwood and plans to put the M6GT into production also died with it until Trojan, who built the McLaren customer Can Am racers, had a go at test marketing the M6GT and built two further M6GT cars before abandoning the idea.

McLaren M12, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Since then any number of replica M6GT’s have been built using everything from Volkswagen Beetle chassis to full race spec McLaren M6 and M12, Trojan production variant of the M6 chassis, with everything from flat four Beetle power to race spec 700hp plus Chevy aluminium big blocks.

McLaren M12, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The chassis of today’s featured car is Trojan built McLaren M12, chassis 60-14 one of two that appear to have passed through Holman Moody to the Great Western Champagne team for Gary Wilson to use in the 1971 Can Am championship season.

McLaren M12, Goodwood Festival of Speed

It is not known for certain that Gary used chassis 60-14 in 1971 but the following year Pete Sherman acquired the car and raced it in the Road America Can Am race where he qualified 22nd and finished 17th.

McLaren M12, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Pete is known to have raced 60-14 on at least one further occasion in 1972 at Donnybrooke where he started 27th and finished 9th.

McLaren M12, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Lawrence Crossan is said to have bought 60-14 in 1977 and during his decade of ownership he had the race spec M12 and 8 700 hp 8 litre 488 cui Chevy fitted with an M6GT type body.

McLaren M12, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Note that the windscreen wiper appears far too small compared to that fitted to Bruce McLaren’s original which also featured a pair of pop up headlights.

McLaren M12, Goodwood Festival of Speed

60-14 now has a Swiss owner and it is registered in France as what must be one of the wilder street legal machines with a genuine 1972 Can Am race history.

Thanks for joining me on this “Sherman’s M12” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


World Champions At Last – McLaren Cosworth M23 #M23/4

The final destination of the 1974 World Drivers Championship was in doubt until the lastof the season with Jody Scheckter driving for Tyrrell, Clay Regazzoni driving for Ferrari and Emerson Fittipaldi driving for McLaren all in with a shout.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Race Retro, Stoneleigh

Emerson Fittipaldi sealed the deal with a fourth place finish at the US Grand Prix which along with wins in Brazil, Belgium, Canada and six further points scoring finishes gave him a 3 point advantage over Clay Regazzoni who failed to add to his points tally at Watkins Glen.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Race Retro, Stoneleigh

For 1974 McLaren had lengthened the wheel base and widened the track of Gordon Coppucks M23 design which was first seen in South Africa in 1973.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Race Retro, Stoneleigh

McLaren had also attracted Philip Morris sponsorship that had previously gone to BRM and managed to leverage Texaco sponsorship along with 1972 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi from Lotus.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Race Retro, Stoneleigh

Denny Hulme was Emerson’s team mate and he contributed to McLaren winning their first World Constructors Championship, at their 9th attempt, by winning the opening race of the 1974 Championship season in Argentina.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Race Retro, Stoneleigh

So far as I have been able to ascertain today’s featured car is the forth M23 chassis, which was first raced in the 1973 German Grand Prix when Jacky Ickx made a one off appearance for the team and drove it to a third place finish behind the Tyrrell’s of Jackie Stewart and Francoise Cevert.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Race Retro, Stoneleigh

Peter Revson then drove #M23/4 to a third place finish in the Italian Grand Prix a win in the Canadian Grand Prix, which would prove to his last Grand Prix win, and a 5th place on his final drive for McLaren in the 1973 US Grand Prix.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Race Retro, Stoneleigh

Emerson Fittipaldi best results with #M23/4 in 1974 were a 3rd place in the 1974 Race of Champions and a 4th place finish in Sweden, after Mike the Bike Hailwood’s crash at the 1974 German Grand Prix #M23/4 reverted to Yardley colours for the remainder of 1974 to be driven by David Hobbs in Austria and Italy and Jochen Mass in Canada and the United States. With Mass scoring a 7th place at Watkins Glen that matched the older Hobbs 7th place finish in Austria the young German secured himself a ride as Fittipaldi’s team mate to replace the retiring Denny Hulme for the 1975 season.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Race Retro, Stoneleigh

#M23/4 only made two appearances in the 1975 season in the non championship International Trophy at Silverstone where Emerson finished 2nd and in the 1975 German Grand Prix where Jochen retired after an accident on the opening, which is said to have reduced #M23/4 to “vitual scrap”.

At Stonleigh #M23/4 appears in these photographs with the correct 1974 colour scheme and early season airbox, extended side pods as fitted to Jochen’s car in the 1975 German Grand Prix but curiously the extended side pods have orifices which did not appear until the Spanish Grand Prix in 1976.

Note: Jochen took the start of the 1975 German Grand Prix in #23/4, distinguished at this meeting by it’s white front wings and hastily applied black #2 race number on the side pod, according to contemporary reports by Dennis ‘DSJ’ Jenkinson and not #M23/6 as indicated by RacingSportsCars.com

My thanks to BSC at The Nostalgia Forum and Allen Brown at OldRacingCars.com for their help identifying the chassis number of today’s car.

Thanks for joining me on this “World Champions At Last” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Fragrant Debut Pole – McLaren Cosworth M23 #M23/1

At the 1973 South African Grand Prix 1967 World Champion New Zealander Denny Hulme qualified on pole for the first and only time in his entire formula one career which lasted from 1965 until 1974. Remarkably he was driving a brand new Ford Cosworth powered McLaren M23, #M23/1 featured today, that was designed by Gordon Coppuck and which was to replace the Ralph Bellamy designed McLaren M19C.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

The design of the M23 was broadly similar to the design of the 1972 turbo Offy powered McLaren M16 which Mark Donohue drive to victory in the 1972 Indy 500, except in the DFV motor of the M23 was bolted into the chassis rather to a sub frame and the side radiators of the M23 were surrounded by a deformable structure to protect the fuel tanks in the side of the chassis.

Denny Hulme came fifth in the 1973 South African Grand Prix which was won by Jackie Stewart driving a Tyrrell 006. At the 1973 Swedish Grand Prix Denny Hulme took the first of the M23’s 16 World Championship race victories, two races later Peter Revson scored the models 2nd victory at the British Grand Prix a feat Peter would repeat at the Canadian Grand Prix towards the end of the season. Despite scoring two more wins than in the previous season McLaren again finished third in the 1973 World Constructors championship as they had in 1972.

McLaren Cosworth M23, Goodwood Festival Of Speed

For 1974 McLaren again attracted BRM’s sponsor Philip Morris and the Marlboro brand, Yardley having sponsored BRM in 1970 and 1971 prior to joining McLaren for 1972. Peter Revson moved to join the UOP Shadow outfit and was replaced at McLaren by 1972 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi from Lotus.

Emerson won three world championship races in 1974 on his way to his second World Drivers Championship and McLaren’s first World Constructors Championship, backed up by Denny Hulme who won the first race of the 1974 World Championship season in Aregetina which would be his last prior to retiring from the sport at the end of the season. Chassis #M23/1 was used in the early 1974 season by a third Yardley backed factory entry for Mike Hailwood who joined McLaren from Surtees. Mike ‘the Bikes’ best result was third in the South African Grand Prix which would become his career high world championship result. An accident in Germany at the wheel of another M23 prematurely terminated Mikes driving career, though he would return to motor cycling at which he was a seven time world champion and add two Isle of Man TT trophies in 1978 and 1979 to bring his total to fourteen.

In 1975 Emerson claimed two more championship victories on his way to second in the title behind Niki Lauda in the superior Ferrari 312T which had a more powerful motor and superior handling thanks to a transversely mounted gearbox and the testing skills of it’s driver. Another Surtees refugee Jochen Mass who had teken over Mike Hailwoods Yardley McLaren drive in 1974 replaced Denny Hulme and scored his only Grand Prix victory at the ill feted 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

James Hunt replaced Emerson Fittipaldi for 1976 and McLaren ended up using the M23 for a forth straight season as they were locked in an epic battle with Niki Lauda for the 1976 title that has been immortalised by Ron Howard in the film “Rush” released earlier this year. On his way to the 1976 World Drivers Championship James won 6 races to become the M23 model’s most successful driver.

By 1977 the M23 was pressed into a fifth season of competition as a works racer before a much modified McLaren M26 was finally brought up to speed mid way through the season, non works McLaren’s were used sporadically in World Championship events until 1978 when rising star Nelson Piquet recorded a 9th place finish in the Canadian Grand Prix on what was to be the M23’s final World Championship appearance.

Tony Trimmer won the British Formula One Championship driving a Melchester Racing McLaren M23 in 1978.

Thanks for joining me on this “Fragrant Debut Pole” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Wheelbase Balance – McLaren Chevrolet M8F #10-72

There were three race winners in the 1971 Can Am Challenge Jackie Stewart won two races in his L&M Lola T260 while the rest all fell to Denny Hulme who won three races and eventual champion Peter Revson who won the remaining five in the fifth and final year of domination by the Traffic Yellow McLaren M8F cars.

The McLaren M8F was similar to the M8D raced in 1970 but had been upgraded by Gordon Coppuck with a 3″ longer wheel base, wider track, inboard rear brakes, sturdier gearbox to improve the handling and balance of the cars which had a choice of either 740hp 8.1 litre / 494 cui or just under 800 hp 8.4 litre / 512 cui Gary Knutson tuned alloy Chevrolet V8’s.

Agg, McLaren Chevrolet M8F, Brands Hatch

For 1972 the works McLaren team moved onto the M20 and sold on it’s M8F’s to the Young American Racing Team, one of which was driven to victory at Donnybrooke by rising French star François Cevert, while Trojan built up a number of M8F spec cars known as M8FP’s for customers to run.

The most successful M8FP customer in the 1972 Can Am Challenge was German Hans Weidmer who finished 8th from 21st on the grid at Edmonton driving chassis #07-72.

Agg, McLaren Chevrolet M8F, Brands Hatch

Helmut Kelleners sold his March 707/717 and raced a Trojan built M8FP #02-72 in various events through 1972 winning the Martini International at Mainz Finthen. In December ’72 Georg Loos won the Copa Brasil at Interlagos driving chassis #03-72.

By 1975 Peter Hoffmann had acquired #07-72 for racing in Europe and in 1976 returned the car to victory lane at Kassel Calden, Mainz Finthen and Ulm. Peter drove the car to three more victories at the Nurburgring in 1979 and 1981 and Hockenheim in 1980.

Today’s featured car #10-72 is seen with Charlie Agg at the wheel during practice for a classic race at Brands Hatch, #10-72 was never raced in period. Charlie Agg is the son of Peter Agg who revived the fortunes of Trojan and then Elva in the 1960’s.

Thanks for joining me on this “Wheelbase Balance” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !


Third Time Lucky – McLaren Ford M7A

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.

McLaren M7A, Donington Park Museum

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.

McLaren M7A, Donington Park Museum

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.

McLaren M7A, Donington Park Museum

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.

McLaren M7A, Donington Park Museum

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.

McLaren M7A, Donington Park Museum

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.


Three Time Winner – McLaren Offy M16

09 07 03 022sc

The McLaren M16 was designed by Gordon Coppuck in 1970 and took essential design queues from the Lotus 72, that was dominant in Formula One, including the chisel nose and side mounted radiators.

09 07 03 023sc

On it’s Indy debut in 1971 M16’s of Revson, Donohue and Hulme qualified 1st, 2nd and 4th for the 500, the race was won by repeat winner Al Unser with Peter Revson coming home a career best 2nd. Mark Donohue driving for the private Penske team said of the M16 that it “…obsoleted every other car on track…” and proved it with a win in 1972.


In 1973 Johnny Rutherford, seen driving the M16C/5 here at Goodwood Festival of Speed, took pole position again in his works M16 though the Eagles of Johncock and Vukovich Jr took first and second in the race that was called early due to rain. The following season driving the same car Rutherford started 25th on the grid and went on to win the first of his three Indy 500’s.

Indy75 022s

Photo Ed Arnaudin

In 1975 Rutherford drove the #2 Gatorade M16E/1 qualifying 7th and coming in second.

Indy75 005s

Photo Ed Arnaudin

Lloyd Ruby drove the #7 Allied Polymer Group M16E/2 qualifying 6th and finishing 32nd in 1975 and in 1976 Rutherford dominated the Indy 500 with a victory from pole in this ex Ruby chassis. Cliff Hucul raced this same car at Indy from ’77 – ’79 qualifying a best 18th in ’79 and finishing a best 22nd in ’77.

Indy75 009s

Photo Ed Arnaudin

Bob Harkey seen in the #33 Dayton Walther M16C/2 here in 1975 qualified 23rd for the Indy 500 and after 18 laps handed the car over to Salt Walther who’s own M16 had experienced turbo failure after 2 laps. Salt was flagged in 10th at the conclusion of the rain affected race. In 1976 David Hobbs nade his fourth and final Indy start in this car starting 31st and finishing 29th.

In 1978 Jerry Karl modified M16C/2 fitting a Chevrolet stock block motor, Karl made three starts in ’78, ’80 and ’81 recording best start positions of 28th in ’78 and ’80 and a best finish of 14th in ’78. This car still fitted with a Chevy stock block but now with orange #15 bodywork as used by Peter Revson resides in the Matthew Collection.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for scanning his Dad’s photographs and to everyone who contributed to the M16 thread on The Nostalgia Forum for providing the chassis details.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s chisel nose edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !