Sold for $249,000 at 2008 Bonhams
Cooper Cars considered building two special cars specifically for Bruce McLaren to compete in the 1964 Tasman series. After Cooper decided it was too costly and too much work, Bruce and Mayer brothers, Timmy the driver and Teddy the manager, established Bruce McLaren Racing Ltd to build the cars and race them. The cars created in his shop were a tremendous success, earning him his first victory in the New Zealand Grand Prix and the series championship.
The acquisition of Roger Penske's Zerex Special was the next step. The car was a modified F1 Cooper and powered by a 2.7-liter Climax four-cylinder unit. It was later fitted with a 215 cubic-inch Traco-modified Oldsmobile aluminum block V8.
The McLaren MK1 was built in time for the late season North American races. Power was from the Traco Olds which now displaced 4.5-liters. The competition was fierce, with strong teams from both Europe and North America. The McLaren car encountered a throttle linkage problem but rallied to finish third overall and established the lap record. cooling hose issues were responsible for the teams DNF's at Riverside and Laguna Seca.
The McLaren M1 was a very competitive and capable car. Teddy Mayer soon reaelized that a customer version of the car could provide additional income for hte team. Not wanting to over-work the Feltham McLaren shop, the team struck a deal with Frank Nichols who had joined Peter Agg's Trojan Group to re-estalish Elva cars. Elva would build customer cars for McLaren which were designated McLaren-Elvas.
The Elva-built McLarens were called the MK 1A and powered by a variety of powerplants. They had a simple and straightforward design with a frame based on three main tubes incorporating a multi-tubular space frame structured. At all four corners were an independent suspension with widely spaced pickups for the front upper wishbones. The rear had reversed lower wishbones, single upper links and parallel radius rods. Springing was by coil springs and tubular shocks. The gearbox was a Hewland transaxle. The body design was courtesy of Tony Hilder.
This recently restored MK1A was originally raced by Hammond, Indiana driver Ralph Salyer. Gene Crowe was his mechanic. Salyer named the car the 'Cro-Sal Special.'
Salyer was third on the grid with his MK1A at Road America in September of 1965. Along with co-driver Bill Mitchell, the car finished fifth overall. After a rather successful season of competition, the MK1A was invited to the American Road Race of Champions at the Daytona Motor Speedway. This was the predecessor to the SCCA National Championship runoffs. At Daytona, Sayler set the fastest qualifying time on the road course, setting a course record and besting his next closest competitor by nearly three seconds. Unfortunately, Salyer's MK1A went out after only eight laps.
The following season, the Cro-Sal Special raced in a few event of the new U.S. Road Racing Championship (SRRC) series before being replaced by a McKee-Chevy at Mid-Ohio.
Since then, the car has been given a concours quality restoration, returning it to the livery when it was raced by Ralph Salyer. It is painted in midnight blue with red driving seat upholstery. This M1A 20-06 is powered by a 358 Chevrolet V8 offering 482 horsepower and 452 lbs of torque. There is a Hewland LG500 gearbox and an overall weight of just 1300 lbs.
In total, it is believed that 24 examples of the McLaren-Elva MK 1As were built.
In 2009, this recently restored racer was offered for sale by Bonhams Auction at the Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia
sale in Carmel, CA. It was estimated to sell for $250,000 - $300,000 , but would leave the auction unsold.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2009
Sold for $249,000 at 2008 Bonhams
Designed by Bruce McLaren the McLaren-Elva M1A was one of the new breed of American powered sports racing cars during the 1960s. McLaren arranged for the Elva Car Company to produce the production version, hence the name McLaren-Elva. Only about 20 of these cars were ever built. McLaren-Elva M1A #20-06 was purchased through Carl Haas Motorsports and shipped to Ralph Salyer, on May 30, 1965. Salyer's mechanic, Ocne Crone, who shared the billing on Salyer's cars known as 'Cro-Sal Special Modified Championship and the 1965 USRRC, the racing series which would give rise to the great Canadian-American Challenge Series, the Can-Am.
During the early 1960s, racing was continuing to be a booming business where drivers and teams were able to make a reasonable living driving in series through the world. Some races were lucrative enough to entice manufacturers to build specialized vehicles specifically for regional race series.
In 1964, Bruce McLaren had his team at Cooper Cars to build and prepare two special cars specifically for the Tasman series. Cooper, however, felt it was too much work. Undeterred, Bruce and the Mayer brothers (Timmy and Teddy), set up Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd. Bruce drove one example to a victory in the New Zealand Grand Prix and the series championship.
The team later acquired Roger Penske's Zerex Special. It was an F1 Cooper that was modified to comply with FIA Appendix C Sports Car racing regulations. It was initially raced with a 2.7-liter Climax four; this was replaced mid-season with a 215 cubic-inch Traco-modified Oldsmobile aluminum block V8. The modified car was called the Cooper-Oldsmobile.
While racing with modified cars, the MK1 was being constructed in the team's new shops in Feltham. This was Bruce McLaren's first racing car of his own design. It was finished in time for the late season North America races. Power was from a Traco Oldsmobile engine, which now displaced 4.5-liters. Even though the car encountered a throttle linkage problem, it rallied to finish third overall and establish the lap record. The West Coast rounds at Riverside and Laguna Seca were spoiled by cooling hose issues.
Even though the M1 had not earned an outright victory, it had proven to be very competitive. Teddy Mayer recognized the possibility of customer car sales but worried about over taxing the Feltham McLaren shop with the work load. Instead, a deal was struck with Frank Nichols who had joined Peter Agg's Trojan Group to re-establish Elva cars. Elva would build customer cars for McLaren which were designated McLaren-Elvas.
The Elva-built McLarens, called the MK 1A, were campaigned by a variety of teams using a variety of powerplants. The MK 1A had a frame based on three main tubes incorporating a multi-tubular space frame structure with stressed sheet flor and bulkhead panels. An independent suspension setup was located at all four corners with widely spaced pickups for the front upper wishbones. The rear had reversed lower wishbones, single upper links and parallel radius rods. Springing was by coil springs and tubular shocks.
Tony Hilder designed the body. It was given a pointed nose which directed air to the radiator which exhausted out the top of the nose directly in front of the curved windscreen. The nose also directed air to the front brakes. Intakes in the front of each rear fender did the same for the rear brakes.
Although several engines were used, the Traco-Oldsmobile was the preferred source of power. A Hewland transaxle was used.
It is believed that around 24 examples of the McLaren-Elva MK 1A were built.
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2017