Bruce McLaren was an innovator of motorsport, but his dreams went beyond the track. The M6GT was to become the world's fastest road-legal supercar.
McLaren Automotive has been around for just eight years and in that time it has produced some spectacular cars, grown a reputation for innovation, and turned a profit.
Before McLaren Automotive the British brand created the McLaren F1, a car that needs no introduction. However, there was a McLaren road car long before Gordon Murray penned that record-breaking machine. Meet the McLaren M6GT.
McLaren was a force to be reckoned with in multiple disciplines of motorsport in the 1960s and '70s. Its founder, Bruce McLaren, was an accomplished racer, but also a master engineer and he would frequently be trialing new ideas to develop his latest cars – sometimes mid-race if inspiration struck while at the wheel!
The McLaren M6A was a late '60s Can-Am racing car that ultimately won the series in 1967 at the hands of its creator. Being the ambitious chap that Bruce McLaren was, he wanted to take the M6A to the famed Le Mans 24 Hour race and compete in the Group 4 GT series.
A coupé body was designed for the car that better suited endurance racing, but just as the M6 was nearing completion the FIA changed the rules of homologation. In order to compete Bruce’s coupé needed to spawn 50 road-legal examples. McLaren couldn’t meet the requirements at the time sue to other commitments and so the project was shelved.
The challenge of building a road car never left Bruce McLaren’s mind, and so after toying with the idea he decided to try and build one. He wanted to create the fastest road car in the world and so used a pair of the still-born M6A coupé cars to develop his M6GT. Converted for road use, Bruce was regularly seen turning up to race meetings in the Chevrolet powered cars. The M6GT was estimated to be cable of 0-100mph in 8 seconds and go on to a top speed of 165mph.
The aim was to produce 250 production cars and progress was coming on strong. Bruce’s personal M6GT now donned manual pop-up headlights with further enhancements to come, but fate had other plans. On 2 June 1970 Bruce McLaren died in a crash at Goodwood while testing a new M8D Can-Am car — the road car dream passed away with Bruce.
It would be 23 years after Bruce McLaren’s death when his vision of a McLaren road car would be realised in the F1. Today one of the M6GT cars can be found on display at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking.