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THE McLAREN 650S CAN-AM
The McLaren 650S Can-Am honours the awe-inspiring and fearsome Can-Am race cars that first took to the track in 1966. Produced by McLaren Special Operations and limited to just 50 examples worldwide, this special-edition Super Series model features exclusive enhancements echoing the spirit of the spectacular Can-Am racers.
Known to race fans simply as ‘Can-Am’, the Canadian American Challenge Cup of the mid ’60s and early ’70s remains one of the most spectacular motorsport categories of all time.
Born out of the FIA’s Group 7 technical regulations, Can-Am’s rules were so liberal that only the cars’ dimensions, minimal safety equipment, and the requirement for enclosed wheels and two seats was specified. With no minimum weight, no engine restrictions and aerodynamic innovation given carte blanche, engineers pushed designs to the limit: by the early 1970s, Can-Am cars weighed under 800kg and produced more than 900bhp, figures comparable to today’s Formula 1™ cars.
McLaren contested the very first Can-Am race in St Jovite, Canada, in 1966, and went on to dominate the series: company founder Bruce McLaren and works drivers Denny Hulme and Peter Revson claimed five back-to-back drivers’ championships from 1967 to 1971.
Tragically, Can-Am was to cost McLaren founder Bruce McLaren his life: he died while testing the team’s new M8D race car at Goodwood on 2 June, 1970. Bruce was just 32 years old. His team rallied after his death, though, and was victorious in nine of the 10 Can-Am races that year. When the team won the 1971 championship too, it was the culmination of a half-decade of domination and a record 43 Can-Am victories.