Sold for $3,520,000 at 2013 RM Auctions
The McLaren Company was founded in 1963 by New Zealander Bruce McLaren. Mr. McLaren had many successful seasons as a driver with Cooper before starting his own team with a heavily modified Cooper Zerex known as 'The Jolly Green Giant.' The first McLaren badged car was built in 1964.
The McLaren cars raced at Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 1970 to 1982. They won on three occasions. The McLaren team is the only team to have won Formula One, Indy 500, Can-Am and LeMans championships. They were the first to design a car using a carbon fiber monocoque. The team currently competes in Formula One competition, which they won in 2008.
Johnny Rutherford won the Indianapolis 500 three times, twice with Team McLaren in 1974 and again in 1976 and then once with Jim Hall's Chaparral team in 1980. His first win took three hours and nine minutes and paid $245,032.
After his Offenhauser engine blew on the first day of qualifying. Rutherford qualified on the second Saturday. Although second fastest overall, he had to start 25th. Starting positions are earned on the basis of fastest time within the day you qualify. On race day, Rutherford had a fantastic start, moving up to third place by lap twelve. Later, he battled with race leader A.J. Foyt, until Foyt's turbocharger expired. Rutherford led 59 of the last 60 laps and went on to win with an average speed of 158 mph, lapping the entire race, except for Bobby Unser, who finished second.
This is the McLaren M16C that took 'Lone Star JR' to his first victory at Indianapolis, restored just as it was that day in May.
Sold for $3,520,000 at 2013 RM Auctions
There, toward the back of the field of 33 cars for the 1974 Indianapolis 500 would be an orange-livered McLaren adorned with the number '3'. Starting 25th, Johnny Rutherford's chances seemed slim despite having set the second-fastest lap speed during qualifying of 190.446mph.
Qualifying would be one thing, the race would be another thing entirely. By just the 3rd lap of the race Rutherford would be up to 12th. Over the next 100 laps Rutherford would continue his ascent up the leaderboard until he became embroiled in a battle with A.J. Foyt for the lead. The two would duel it out for nearly 50 laps until Foyt retired with a broken oil line. Over the remaining 60 laps, Johnny would lead 59 of them and would end up streaking underneath the checkered flag 22 seconds ahead of 2nd place Bobby Unser, the only driver still on the lead lap with the McLaren.
The rather surprising victory in the Indianapolis 500 would be just one of three victories earned by chassis M16C-5 over the course of the 1974 season. The other two wins would come at the Milwaukee 150 and the Pocono 500. However, M16C-5's race career would actually begin the previous season when Rutherford captured the pole for the Indy 500 with the car at an average speed of 198.413mph. Unfortunately, the disaster of a race would be very frustrating for Rutherford. Following an early accident that took the lives of a couple of drivers, Rutherford would struggle with issues over the course of the race and would eventually hang on to finish 9th.
M16C-5 would be quite a different car heading into 1974. The fears and concerns after the tragic race in 1973 would lead to USAC officials reducing the size of the rear wing and the fuel tanks. Additionally, the limits on the turbochargers would be reduced in an attempt to slow the cars down. It seemed these changes would adversely affect Rutherford's race. However, he would overcome all and would enjoy an absolutely dominant victory; just one of a number achieved by the talented Texan.
Late in 1976 M16C-5 would be sold to WalMotor, a private team owned by George Walther and Salt Walther. Salt Walther would use the car in an attempt to qualify for the 1977 Indianapolis 500. He choice of a race-winning machine would be sound, but by 1977 the car would not be able to achieve the speeds necessary to qualify for the race. Graham Mcrae would use M16C-5 to try and do the very same thing the next year but would face the same fate.
Finally having reached the end of its competitive life, M16C-5 would be purchased by Rick Carroll in 1978 and he would have the car restored to how it appeared when it took victory in the famed 500 mile race in 1974. The car would remain with Carroll until his death in 1991, at which time it would come up for sale.
It would take a record sum for an Indycar for McLaren principal Ron Dennis to be prohibited from purchasing the car. By the end of the century the car was not in good working order. However, at the turn of the millennium M16C-5 would be returned to working order and would make a number of appearances, often with the very driver it had won the Indy 500 with back in '74. In 2005, Indy 500 drivers would be celebrated at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance and M16C-5 would be there. It would be a very special occasion and it would be topped off with Rutherford signing the McLaren.
The following year, again at Amelia Island, M16C-5 would earn the First in Class award among the 'Cars of Johnny Rutherford'. The award would be, fittingly, a bronze model of itself. That same year, just prior to the Indy 500, Rick Hamlin would take M16C-5 on some pace laps of the Brickyard providing a very special step back in time to when it crossed the finish line all alone to achieve victory.
M16C-5 would continue to have a busy life after racing. In 2009, the car would earn First in Class at the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance. It would be first in class for the 'Cars of Bruce McLaren'. Later that year, Rutherford would reunite with the McLaren and would take part in runs at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. This would be repeated in 2011 as part of the celebration of the centennial of the Indianapolis 500. During 2011, M16C-5 would spend a good deal of time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum also as part of its celebration of the race's centennial.
Even now, when the Indy 500 has had nearly four decades of victors since the McLaren's triumph in 1974, M16C-5 still takes top honors.
The 1974-winning McLaren M16C-5 would end up selling for the price of $3,520,000 at the 2013 RM Auctions event in Monterey.By Jeremy McMullen
Team McLaren has scored three Indy 500 victories, in the open wheeled American racing series. The first win was in 1972 wîth Mark Donohue piloting the McLaren M16B, and Johnny Rutherford scored two victories in 1974 and 1976. The following tells the story of the 1974 race.
It was Johnny Rutherford's second year wîth Team McLaren and a number of rule changes had been introduced which were aimed at reducing the overall speed of the cars. These included reducing the size of the rear wings, lowering the turbo boost by at least seven mph from the previous year, and reducing the fuel capacity by 30 gallons, down from 75 to 45 gallons.
Qualifying was spread out over two consecutive Saturdays, and during Rutherford's first session his engine blew up. Despite a very quick engine change, he was not allowed to qualify until the following Saturday. On the second qualifying day he was the second fastest, but had to start the race in 25th place.
On race day itself, Rutherford had a sensational start, moving up through the field to third place by lap 12. Later in the race he moved up a place and was battling wîth race leader A.J Foyt. Foyt was black flagged for oil smoke on lap 139 and then later broke the scavenger pump on his turbocharger which caused his retirement.
Rutherford took the lead, which he held for 59 of the last 60 laps, only losing it briefly to Bobby Únser when he made his final pitstop. Rutherford went on to take victory at an average speed of 255 kph, lapping the entire field except for Únser who finished second.Source - McLaren
Sold for $3,520,000 at 2013 RM Auctions
Driven by Johnny Rutherford, this 1974 McLaren was the winner of the 1974 Indianapolis 500 after starting in 25th place. He shot up to 12th place after only three laps. A battle ensued between Rutherford and A.J. Foyt for about 50 laps, until Foyt blew an oil line. Rutherford took the lead and never looked back. He won the race by a full 22 seconds and lapped every car in the field except second-place Bobby Unser.
Johnny Rutherford and the McLaren had quite a year winning two additional races and placing in the top ten a total of eight times in 1974.
In the 1970s, McLarens won three Indy 500s.
This was the first Indy 500 win for Rutherford who won two more.