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Monday, December 14, 2015

Why This McLaren is One of the Rarest in the World


Copyright © 2015 Bold Ride LLC.

To the layman, the McLaren M12GT moniker doesn’t mean much. Most will be more familiar with late, great P1 hypercar, or for that matter the 243-mph McLaren F1, which marked the company’s first official road car when it debuted in 1992. But the key word there is “official.” 
In the late 1960s, company founder Bruce McLaren was inspired to build a road car the likes of which the world had never seen. It would feature a closed cockpit, the running gear from a Can Am racecar, and it would net the company the title of the fastest car in the world. The McLaren M6GT would be that attempt.

Three prototypes were produced, each capable of zero to 100 mph in eight seconds, and Bruce even drove one on a daily basis. If he had lived past 1970, a full-fledge production run could have been realized.

Sadly, that never happened, but the M6GT story didn’t end there. It inspired this car—an M12GT—one of the firm’s earliest “unofficial” road cars and one of only a few in existence.


As its name would suggest, the M12GT coupe evolved from McLaren’s open-cockpit M12 race cars, which were developed for the 1969 Can Am series. Essentially a mashup of the previous M6 and M8 racers, these open-top M12s swallowed big block Chevrolet V8s and were produced by McLaren’s manufacturing partner, Trojan. However, not all of these cars would remain topless forever.

Of the few M12 racers built, a small number were unofficially rebodied as coupes, which is how this car—chassis #60-14—earned its top. According to car broker Jan B. Luehn, who has offered this car up for sale, M12GT #60-14 was first sold by McLaren to Carroll Shelby as a rolling chassis, the first in a long line of exchanges. The car was then sold to the Holman Moody racing team, before making its way to Watkins Glen, New York, where it and another M12 (#60-12) were campaigned by Vic Franzese…who still owns #60-12.

The car, still an open-cockpit racer at this point, was then sold two more times before making its way to Santa Ana, California in 1976. This was a pivotal moment. In the stewardship of owner Larry Crossan, the race car was converted to coupe form by ex-Shelby engineer John Collins, and was then made street legal—a true Can Am race car for the road.


In 1986 it was sold to Michael Shoen (of the U-Haul empire) who reportedly described the car as the “scariest son of a ***** I’ve ever driven.” Since then it hasn’t stopped globetrotting the world and exchanging hands, including a reported recent stay at McLaren factory in Woking, UK, and an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

It is said to be the only M12GT coupe in the world which contains its as-intended Chevrolet big block V8. Boy if that V8 could talk. Like it? You’re not alone. Luehn hasn’t affixed a price on the car, but we’ll gander it’s at least seven digits long.