McLaren gears up for 50th anniversary

Last updated 07:10 25/01/2013
1969 McLaren M7C alongside the McLaren 12C Spider.

PROGRESS MADE REAL: A McLaren M7C, one of the company's iconic papaya orange-liveried grand prix cars from 1969, sits alongside the 12C Spider, McLaren's latest world-beating high-performance sports car.

McLaren P1
McLaren P1 production line.
McLaren X-1
Unveiled during the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in the US, the one-off McLaren X-1 is based on the Ferrari-fighting MP4-12C, but boasts a unique, carbon fibre body that’s sure to split opinion at the exclusive event.
McLaren 12C GT Can-Am Edition
The McLaren 12C GT Can-Am Edition.
McLaren MP4-12C Spider
McLaren MP4-12C Spider

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It is nearly 50 years since New Zealand's Bruce McLaren launched a company that has gone onto become one of the greats of world motorsport.

On September 2 this year, McLaren Group will celebrate its achievements over the past 50 years with the words of their founder - "Life is measured in achievement, not in years alone" - still ringing strongly.

McLaren (killed in a smash in 1970) was 27 when he penned those words in 1964 and his then new company, Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Ltd, was less than a year old.

In those days, McLaren's vision was shared by fewer than half a dozen loyal souls, who slogged across the world to race his self-made cars. Nowadays, the McLaren Group employs more than 2000 people.

McLaren Group says that if they were to follow their founder's words to the letter, there would be little time for recollection.

However, they believe there is time for a brief breather and a look back at some of their achievements of the past 50 years, including:

* A Formula 1 team that has become a global household name. Since arriving in the sport at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix, McLaren has won more races (182) than any other constructor, started from pole position 155 times and scored 151 fastest laps.

* McLaren has now led more than 10,000 racing laps in F1.

* In the North America CanAm series, McLaren steamrollered the opposition, lifting five successive championship trophies (1967-1971) and winning an incredible 43 races in the iconic, thundering V8-engined sportscars.

* McLaren won the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in 1970 and again in 1974 and 1976.

* Today, every car in Formula 1, the Indycar Series and NascarR relies upon McLaren Electronics' standardised ECUs to control their engines and feed data back to the garage.

* Introduced back in 1993, the McLaren F1 road car remains the fastest naturally aspirated production car in the world. In GTR racing guise, it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, also scooping third, fourth and fifth places on its debut in 1995.

* The next roadcar project was with Mercedes-Benz and resulted in the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren which became the best-selling carbon-based car ever.

* Since its launch in 2010, McLaren Automotive has developed into a world-class road car manufacturer, successfully developing and building the 12C and the 12C Spider high performance sports cars.

* McLaren Automotive is poised to open its 50th global dealership ahead of the worldwide launch of the P1 – the company's newest model.

* McLaren Applied Technologies helped British cyclists, rowers, sailors and canoeists win 15 gold medals last summer. McLaren worked alongside Specialised to design Mark Cavendish's world championship-winning S-Works Venge bicycle.

Echoes of McLaren's past will reverberate throughout a series of unique events and celebrations to be held across their anniversary year.

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''McLaren's history is long and storied, but McLaren's legacy is harder to define – and that's because it's still being vividly written every day by the dedicated men and women who work at the McLaren Technology Centre,'' Ron Dennis, executive chairman, McLaren Group and McLaren Automotive, said.

''Bruce McLaren wrote the beginning of the story, and the legend is going to continue for many years to come. I'm only a chapter, not the book, and I want other people to come in and write their own chapters as time goes by.

''This is a book that's still being written, and that, perhaps, is the greatest legacy of McLaren.''

- © Fairfax NZ News

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