McLaren is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the inaugural Can-Am racing season with a limited edition version of its 650S supercar.
The McLaren 650S Can-Am was developed by McLaren Special Operations (MSO) and will be strictly limited to a worldwide production run of just 50 cars, each one priced from £255,850 before extras – a hefty premium on the £215,250 650S Spider.
The 650S Can-Am has been designed as a nod to the race cars from this ‘golden age’ of motorsport, a time when there were no engine or weight restrictions to get in the way.
McLaren entered the Canadian-American Challenge Cup (to use its full name) and won five consecutive championships between 1967 and 1971.
Separating the 650S Can-Am special edition from the standard car is a generous helping of carbon fibre used for the retractable hard-top roof, bonnet, airbrake, front splitter, rear bumper centre, door blades and sill cover.
It also has unique lightweight forged alloy wheels finished in gloss black that are inspired by the racing cars from the 1960s and wrapped in more contemporary usual Pirelli P Zero Corsa tyres. Carbon ceramic brakes with black painted calipers are also standard.
A new quad-exit polished stainless steel exhaust system with four circular tailpipes is said to ‘echo the aggressive and purposeful throttle trumpets of the historic models’ and gives the 650S Can-Am a ‘unique soundtrack’.
Lucky owners can also expect standard sports seats wrapped in leather and Alcantara, yet more carbon fibre detailing and a unique Can-Am plaque on the driver’s door.
It’s the usual story for the the 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8, which delivers 650PS (641bhp) and 500lb/ft (680Nm) of torque. 0-62mph takes three seconds and the top speed is 204mph. Fast, most definitely, but a far cry from the 800kg and 900bhp monsters the Can-Am hosted in the 1970s.
One of three colours can be chosen: Mars Red (inspired by the M1B driven by McLaren founder Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon in their debut season), Papaya Spark (a modern and metallic take on the Can-Am racing McLaren Orange) and Onyx Black (used as the base colour by many McLaren customer teams).
McLaren Special Operations executive director Paul Mackenzie said: “Can-Am racing is a major part of McLaren heritage, and this latest model from MSO pays homage to the cars and the racers who played a key role in making the championship such a spectacle during the 1960s and 70s.
“The championship was a true test of the engineering ability, driving talent and bravery of Bruce and his teammates, which led them to secure five consecutive championships.”
The Can-Am may seem like an odd race to make a song and dance about given McLaren’s British heritage, but Bruce lost his life at the age of 32 while testing the Can-Am M8D racer in 1970 at Goodwood.
Even with the tragic news still fresh in the mind, McLaren won the 1971 championship and racked up a total of a record 43 race victories.