McLaren Cars

From Bruce McLaren’s first racing car, a little Austin Ulster, to the legendary racing cars that still bear his name, every McLaren tells a unique story.


Bruce McLaren’s earliest competitive driving experience came at the wheel of a modified 1929 Austin Ulster. Bought in bits by his father who had planned to restore and sell it, 13-year-old Bruce convinced him they could turn it into a race car.

Involved in every stage of the Ulster’s restoration, the experience proved vital for the future race car designer. Two years later, in his race-prepared Ulster, 15-year-old Bruce set the fastest time in the 750cc class at the Muriwai Beach hill climb.

Having left New Zealand for England, Bruce’s Austin Ulster was housed in a small museum until 1989, when it was found and bought by the McLaren Group. Maintained in original condition, the little legend now takes pride of place alongside its faster and more illustrious successors on the boulevard at the MTC.



Designed and hand built by Robin Herd and Bruce McLaren, the M1B was the official 1965 McLaren team car. Painted a distinctive red, the all-alloy prototype made its debut at the Canadian Grand Prix. Leading for 96 of the 100 laps, Bruce and the M1B had to settle for second place after a thrilling battle with Jim Hall.



A major turning point in McLaren’s fortunes, the M6A was the most successful car Robin Herd designed for the team in 1967. One of the finest handling machines of its time, the M6A helped Bruce and Denny Hulme dominate the 1967 Can-Am series, winning five out of six races.

The M6A was also the first McLaren to be painted in the team’s trademark papaya orange – or McLaren Orange as this definitive hue became known.



Designed by Robin Herd and Gordon Coppuck, the elegant M7A was the first McLaren powered by the Ford Cosworth DFV engine. Second in the Constructors’ title in ’68, the impressive M7A won the Italian and Canadian Grand Prix with Denny Hulme at the wheel. At the Belgian Grand Prix, Bruce emulated Jack Brabham as the second man ever to win a Grand Prix race in a car bearing his own name.


INDY CAR McLAREN M16 1971-1976

The M16’s radical wedge shape, while familiar in Formula 1, caused astonishment at Indianapolis. The Gordon Coppuck design, however, proved ideal for the continuous high-speed running that characterised Indy racing.

In all its various guises, the M16 concept would go down in motorsport history as one of the most successful cars in the long and illustrious history of the Indianapolis 500. Competing in 11 races and taking three victories, four second and two third places, it laid the foundations for an astonishingly fruitful adventure for what was still a small team.



Arguably the most significant car in McLaren’s long history, the John Barnard designed MP4/1 was the first carbon composite Formula 1 car. Light, strong and stiff, the carbon construction methods introduced by Bernard produced the greatest single contribution to driver safety of any innovation in the sport’s history.

Top ten finishes at the start of the season showed promise. By the Spanish Grand Prix, driver John Watson had found his form. A third in Spain and second in France was followed by a win at the British Grand Prix. It was McLaren’s first victory in 4 years, and the first ever win for a carbon composite race car.

When Watson crashed the MP4/1 doing 140mph at Monza, the controversy surrounding carbon fibre’s safety was put to rest. The car split in half. The engine and gearbox were torn off, but the carbon monocoque structure remained in tact. Unscathed, John Watson walked away.



After five test laps in the new MP4/4, Alain Prost told Team Principal Ron Dennis the car would win the World Championship. It won 15 out of 16 races. Senna won 8 races to take the World Championship. Senna and Prost also took first and second place an astonishing 10 times.

In the Constructors’ Championship McLaren accumulated a phenomenal 199 points. Almost three times the tally of the runner up and just two points off the combined total of every other team on the grid.

According to Neil Trundle, McLaren’s Chief Mechanic, the MP4/4 was the perfect package. Lightweight, outstanding downforce, highly efficient brakes, fantastic suspension and a fabulous V6 Honda engine made it McLaren’s best-ever car.



From the first race of the ’98 season, designers Adrian Newey and Neil Oatley knew the team and the car were head and shoulders ahead of everyone else. At the Melbourne Grand Prix both David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen lapped the field, with Hakkinen winning the race. From first and second on the grid, they scored another memorable 1 and 2 at Hockenheim.

Driving superbly all year, Mika Hakkinen won eight races and clinched the Drivers’ World Championship with a flawless flag-to-flag victory in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. With Coulthard third in the standings, the team also took the Constructors’ title for the first time since 1991.



An evolution of the MP4–22, engineers began work on the MP4–23 in May 2007. The car spent over 3,000 hours in the wind tunnel. Aerodynamic development continued throughout the season, and the team introduced an innovative four-deck front wing and nosebox winglets.

In one of the most dramatic conclusions to the championship, Lewis Hamilton took the Drivers’ title by a single point around the sweeping circuit of Interlagos, becoming the youngest champion in Formula 1 history.



Keen to defend the 2008 Drivers’ Championship title, the new MP4-24 shared the 23’s fabulous power unit. It also had a battery of new technologies under the skin, including McLaren’s highly sophisticated kinetic energy recovery system (KERS).

Time spent winning the previous year had slowed development of the MP4-24. At the start of the new season the car was off the pace. In typical McLaren fashion, however, the development push went into overdrive. Improvements to the entire package resulted in a Lewis Hamilton’s win in Hungary, the first Grand Prix win for a KERS equipped Formula 1 car. Lewis won again from pole position a few weeks later in Singapore.

The KERS technology, which harvests energy during braking and releases it on demand, proved successful. Giving an 80hp boost when required and shaving up to half a second off per lap.



The F-Duct system on the MP4-25 is a classic example of McLaren out-thinking the regulations, and out-engineering the competition. Simple, effective and fast, the MP4-25 had a conduit running from the front to rear of the car. There was also a vent in the cockpit the driver could block with his left leg on long straights. Blocking the vent directed enough airflow over the rear wing to induce an aerodynamic stall – neutralising drag, downforce and improving top-end speed on the straights.

Using the driver’s leg to direct the flow didn’t contravene the regulations regarding movable aerodynamic devices. By incorporating the design into the car’s monocoque, it was very difficult for other teams to copy the idea. On the more open circuits, F-Duct proved very successful. Button and Hamilton placed first and second on three occasions, and McLaren placed second overall in the 2010 Constructors’ Championship.



The striking MCL33 will contest the 2018 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, and marks the first time in McLaren’s 52-year history that it has run a car powered by Renault engines. The car will race in a stunning new livery that draws its inspiration directly from the team’s iconic papaya orange and blue colour scheme that McLaren first raced in Formula 1 50 years ago.

The MCL33 will be driven by Spain’s Fernando Alonso, the F1 double world champion entering his fourth consecutive season with McLaren, and his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium, who is starting his second season in Formula 1.