The latest look back at old classified advertisements features a 1970 McLaren M8D/4 offered for sale in the March 1978 issue of Road & Trackfor $35,000.
The McLaren M8D got off to a very sad start, as team owner Bruce McLaren was killed testing one at Goodwood less than two weeks before the beginning of the 1970 Can-Am season. Team McLaren and drivers Denny Hulme, Dan Gurney and Peter Gethin persevered, however, winning 9 of 10 races during a very dominant season.
This particular 1970 McLaren M8D reportedly won the last three races, Donnybrooke, Laguna Seca, and Riverside, driven by series champion Denny Hulme. It was a McLaren M8D/4, a M8E prototype rebuilt to M8D specifications for Denny Hulme late in the 1970 Can-Am season.
The McLaren was sold for the 1971 season to Tony Dean, the only non-McLaren driver that won a Can-Am race in 1970. Surely Dean thought, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Dean later crashed the McLaren and it was rebuilt with a new M8E tub. Of course, its original hub was later repaired and built into another car, which surely confuses the chassis registry.
With that said, an ex-Denny Hulme, factory McLaren Can-Am car for $35,000 is nothing short of stunning, even adjusted for inflation. Yet, during the late 70s before the rise of vintage racing, the McLaren M8D/4 was viewed as an old, worn-out race car – a tool no longer relevant for the times.
The December 2008 issue of Vintage Racecar estimates a McLaren M8D is valued at $225,000 – $275,000, although we wish you the best at trying to find one at that price. That may be a decent estimate for a customer car, but a factory, ex-Denny Hulme McLaren M8D is certainly worth much more.
If you bought the McLaren for $35,000 in 1978, then your investment would have returned approximately 7% over 30 years. If you actually raced it over the years, then your investment return would surely be negative, although that is far from the point of owning a Can-Am race car.