McLaren M14

Total Production: 3 1970 - 1971
Change is inevitable. While some things seem to remain constant, how they are utilized constantly changes. This holds true for aerodynamics. The principles of aerodynamics are unchanging. Drag will always hinder a car's performance. But in motor racing there is constant change as the designers learn and experience how each part of a car influences and works with another.

After using the M7 chassis for two years, change was inevitably coming. And in 1970, Bruce McLaren Motor Racing debuted its newest chassis, the M14. Robin Herd, a former aerospace engineer who had worked on the Concorde airliner before coming to work for McLaren, and Gordon Coppuck, another aerospace engineer, would design the M7. Herd laid the groundwork before leaving to work with Cosworth. Coppuck and McLaren would finish the M7.

Herd's expertise, and the work of Coppuck and McLaren, made the M7 a rather successful chassis for McLaren's own team and for other smaller teams. As a result of the strong foundation laid in the M7, much of its design remained readily apparent in the new chassis design. The M7 went through a number of evolutions and updates itself over the period of two years of racing. New technology would be tested on the car and either remained or was abandoned all-together. The M14 represented attempts to normalize a design and make simple, effective changes to bring about improvements in performance.

The M14 would retain the same magnesium and aluminum alloy monocoque chassis as was used in the M7. The bathtub-type monocoque structure was comprised of the alloy panels riveted to steel bulkheads for rigidity and strength. The tub structure ended behind the driver's seat. The tubular structure, in which the engine sat and was bolted to, acted as a stressed part of the chassis. The nose was comprised of tubular structure that provided the strength and some of the shape for the aerodynamic design.

The M14 featured the same low-profile open-mouthed nose design as incorporated in the M7. The fiberglass nose piece fitted around and attached to the tubular structure hidden underneath. Small front wings were also incorporated in the new design. Not utilizing any endplates, the small front wings did feature small gurney flaps on the trailing edges to help create more downforce and stability at the front of the car.

As was the custom of Formula One design of the day, the engine radiator was placed in the nose on the M14. This necessitated the wider, open-mouthed nose design. The radiator sat amongst the tubular nose structure at an angle and was covered by the streamlined fiberglass nose.
An important part of cooling operations for the engine radiator is not merely having an entry way for cooler air to enter, but having a means for the air to escape once it becomes heated going through the radiator. Again borrowing from the M7, the M14 maintains two large cutout vents in between the front suspension. These two deep channels help to extract the hotter air out of the radiators. The fiberglass nose features a little lip in its design just ahead of the twin-channels. This lip creates a low pressure over the channel, which helps to create suction, and therefore, pulls the hot air out of the radiators. It also serves to help pull cooler air in through the radiators because of the suction created.

The front suspension on the M14 featured a wishbone lower arm and a single upper arm with a trailing-link arm. Instead of a rocker-lever, the coil spring suspension mounted at an angle between the wheel hub and the upright protruding out the side of the car's body.

A U-shaped anti-roll bar mounted to the front of the monocoque tub structure and ran out the sides of the car and was attached to the lower wishbone by a control arm. The anti-roll bar constituted one of the changes between the M7 and the M14. On the M7, the anti-roll bar was a sold piece of metal. On the M14, it was found that a lighter, tubular bar could provide the same stiffness necessary to keep the car from rolling and rocking during braking and turning. Being able to be made of a tubular bar, the anti-roll bar on the M14 helped to lower the weight of the chassis.

Braking for the car was accomplished through Lockheed calipers and discs. The whole of the front suspension was covered by a fiberglass panel that included the twin-channels for the engine radiator.

One of the other noted changes of the M14 over the M7 predecessor was the increase in fuel capacity in the car. The resulting reduction in weight overall in the car enabled more fuel to be carried.

The whole of the cockpit was surrounded in the fiberglass bodywork fitted around the monocoque steel, aluminum and magnesium-alloy tub structure. The inside of the cockpit was truly likened to a bathtub. Without the fiberglass bodywork, it was clear the driver skirted just over the ground. Were it not for the bodywork, the driver's body, from the waist up would be clear exposed despite sitting in the tub. Almost in a prone position, the driver's legs extended out into the foot box and had the steering wheel column travel right between the legs.

Though immersed in a monocoque structure, the M14 did not feature a tubular roll-structure in front of the driver. Therefore, the instrument panel and the analog instruments would be attached to the tub structure. Well before the electronic age, the driver only had a couple of analog instruments to monitor while behind the wheel. To the right of the steering wheel was the gearshift connected to the five-speed Hewland gearbox mounted on the backside of the engine.

To provide a little extra protection for the driver in the cockpit, a clear plastic windscreen mounted all-around the driver. The round mirrors would be attached to the flange holding the windscreen to the fiberglass bodywork surrounding the driver.

Directly behind the driver's head, and protruding vertically, was the very important Roll-hoop. This was an important safety feature in a car like the M14. Only modern grand prix cars feature designs where the driver sits down 'in' the car. Throughout most of grand prix racing history, the driver sat up in the car, exposing the upper part of the body to potential hazards. In spite and lying almost prone in the M14, the driver remained relatively unprotected from the shoulders up. Should the car roll, the roll-hoop was the only thing to save the driver from becoming crushed.

Mounted to the tubular roll-hoop structure and the back of the monocoque tub was the 3.0-liter Ford Cosworth V8 DFV engine. The Cosworth engine had become the engine of choice for many teams at that time. Providing 440 bhp, the engine could power the 1200-pound chassis to speeds in excess of 150 mph over the course of a kilometer distance. Combined with the Hewland DG gearbox, the Cosworth engine could get the car off the line quickly, which was important for the standing starts of Formula One. Able to reach 60 mph in around 3.0 seconds, the car had the acceleration necessary to be competitive. Later evolutions of the chassis would still use the Cosworth engine. But; however, the later 'D' model, run in 1971, would use an Alfa Romeo V8 engine instead of the Cosworth.

Small fiberglass bodywork covered the two banks of the V8 engine. However, the top of the bodywork remained opened so to allow the induction pipes to stick up and pull preciously-needed air into the engine to generate its 400+ horsepower.

Directly aft of the engine was the oil cooler. The cooler was positioned straight up and down and was mounted to the twin-pillar supports for the rear wing. This was connected to the small oil barrel located in between the twin exhaust pipes exiting out the rear of the car.

The exhaust pipes ran from each cylinder and snaked-around until each bank of cylinders had its individual exhaust pipes blend into a single pipe. These larger single pipes were routed between the rear suspension and out the back of the car.

With the exception of the numerous exhaust pipes, the area around the engine was rather simple and clean in its layout compared to some of the other chassis designs of the day. Most readily apparent are the twin, upper and lower trailing-link suspension arms that attached directly to the rear wheels. In a similar design as the front, the lower wishbone was reversed. Therefore, it narrowed as it extended in-board to attach to the car's stressed rear structure. The coil springs were mounted at an angle between the lower wishbone and the mounting structure attached to the gearbox itself.

Positioned high, running across the top of the gearbox, the U-shaped anti-roll bar attached to the top of the gearbox and was connected to the rear suspension via a small control arm. Once again, the anti-roll bar provided important stability control to the rear of the car. This provided the driver a stable feeling under braking and cornering, which were two important times if a driver was to turn in a truly fast lap time.

One of the changes found on the M14 concerned the disc brakes for the rear wheels. In order to simplify the design around the rear wheel, especially the driveshaft, the disc brakes were mounted in-board and connected to the wheels via two smaller driveshafts. This positioning served another important purpose. It was very important to keep the disc brakes cool during operations, otherwise the brakes would fade due to the heat. However, the ventilated discs needed to remain within a certain temperature window in order to prevent cracking. By being mounted closer to the engine, the discs remained surrounded by a rather constantly, very hot, heat source. If cooling was needed, small ducts could be mounted to direct air into the brake housing itself.

The rear wing consisted of a twin-pillar support structure holding a single main-plane. The main-plane was rather deep. The upper profile of the main-plane showed a rather flat design with a small contour upward at the wing's trailing edge. Another small gurney flap would be attached the entire length of the trailing edge to further produce downforce.

The majority of the downforce generated by the rear wing came as a result of the camber of the lower profile of the main-plane. Heavily contoured, the air was forced to speed up rapidly as it passed under the wing, thereby creating a good deal of downforce. This could be further enhanced by mounting the rear wing tail-up. This increased angle of the trailing edge would force the air to speed up all the more, thereby also generating more downforce in the process.

The M14 features small endplates on the rear wing. Not merely for advertising purposes, the endplates helped to reduce vortices on the tips of the rear wing. These vortices induce drag and instability at the rear of the car. However, even the small endplates helped to reduce some of the drag.

Adorned in the familiar orange livery of Bruce McLaren Motor Racing, the M14 debuted with rather mixed results. Bruce McLaren crashed in its first race at Kyalami in South Africa. But Denny Hulme would finish 2nd and earn 6 points.

Roles would reverse at the season's second race, the Spanish Grand Prix. Hulme would retire from the race and McLaren would be able to power the car to a 2nd place result and 6 points in the World Championship.

Over the course of the remaining races of the 1970 season, Hulme would score six top-five performances and would stand on the podium a total of three more times. Bruce McLaren would crash and die before the Belgian Grand Prix. As a result of McLaren's death, Dan Gurney and Peter Gethin would each drive some races for the team.

Despite the tragic loss of its leader and founder, the M14 would carry on to a rather good debut considering the circumstances. The team would finish in a tie for 4th with 35 points. And, Denny Hulme would finish 4th in the drivers championship standings having earned 27 points.

Because of the loss of McLaren, it would take the team some time to find its footing once again. The team would need to recover quickly though as it was losing ground to the better-funded teams, such as Lotus and Ferrari. However, building upon the positive aspects of the M7, the M14 would prove capable enough to take McLaren Motor Racing through the turbulent 1970 season, and the following season. The car would also end up being used by other smaller teams on through to the 1972 season.

McLaren's last grand prix car was good enough that it would provide his team time in order to reassemble and carry on to become the incredible champion it is today.

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By Jeremy McMullen

Vehicle information, history, and specifications from concept to production.