1970 McLaren M8C, Chassis #70-08

Original chassis with original chassis plate



This McLaren M8C was one of three cars constructed for the Ford Motor Company in 1970 for the 1971 season. The car was built by Trojan, builders of the McLaren customer cars.  As one might expect, as a Ford factory car this M8C would be racing with a Ford V8 behind the driver in 70-08 instead of the usual Chevy.  

Also unusual this McLaren was not headed for the Canadian American Challenge Series. This McLaren would compete in South American sports car and endurance racing.  Having already achieved success with racing and the resulting subsequent sales boom from the GT40 Ford victories at Le Mans, Ford was keen to do more racing to open up the South American market.  Upon completion McLaren 70-08 was shipped to Argentina to compete in its first race.  

According to sources Racing Sports Cars, World Sports Racing Prototype, and Tuto Mclaren, This M8C, chassis number 70-08, was first raced May 9, 1971 in the Campeonato Argentino Sport Prototipo class at Maggiolo. The car was entered by Ford Motor Argentina for driver Carlos Pairetti.  Pairetti finished on the podium in 3rd in the car’s first race. 

Pairetti’s next Campeonato Sud-Am Sport Prototipo race was on June 11th held at Cordoba. He and the Mclaren fnished 2nd.  On June 27th, Pairetti and the McLaren finished 9th at the Campeonato Argentino Sport Prototipo at Buenos Aries. On July 11th Pairetti finished 2nd at the Campeonato Arteinto Sport Prototipo in Cordoba. Unfortunately, Pairetti suffered a DNF at his next Cordoba  race, on July 25th.

On August 22, 1971, Pairetti and the Ford Motor of Argentina McLaren 70-08 finally broke through, claiming their first victory at the Campeonato Argentina Sport Prototipo /Campeonato Sud-Am Sport Prototipo race at Buenos Aries.  Unfortunately Pairetti could not follow up that victory with another and suffered a DNF at his final race of the season at the Campeonato Argentino Sport Prototipo race at El Zonda de San Juan.

In 1972, McLaren 70-08 was entered by Greek Ford Fabrini for Sergio Mattos.  Mattos’ best finish was a 4th at the 1 H. Taruma on May 7th. The last reported race result for Mclaren 70-08 in 1972 was the 500 km at Interlagos. According to Racing Sports Cars, the car was entered again by Greek Ford Fabrini, but this time for Carlos Salatino, who finished 23rd.  However, Tuto Mclaren reports that Salatino was driving 70-01 at that race, not 70-08.  

In 1973, Mclaren 70-08 was raced by Afonso Giaffone Junior on September 2nd at the Campeonato Brasilleiro Sport Prototipo race at Interlagos.  Giaffone did not finish.  

After the 1973 season the McLaren remained in storage.  In 1988, noted California race car restorer, Phil Reilly, of Phil Reilly & Co.  purchased 70-08, and began its restoration. A new small block Chevy 350 was fitted in place of the original Ford small block.  

The car was next purchased by another Californian. He raced the car in historic racing in the 2000’s. The car has competed at many premier events, including the multiple Monterey Reunions.  It has also won trophies at concours events. 

The latest rebuild of the dry sump Chevy race engine by S&S Racing, features Carillo rods, roller rockers and cam, and stainless steel headers.  The Chevy is mated to a Hewland LG 500 gearbox, and has a Tilton triple plate clutch assembly. The engine is topped with the same four Weber carburetors that were raced on the original Ford engine in South America. The engine has approximately three race weekends on it. 

2020 Auction Results

Motorsports Market’s Remarks:

The McLaren was offered on Bring A Trailer, where the bidding stalled at $161,000.00. It appears from the comments listed there that there was concern about the car being a genuine, period, McLaren M8C.  This brings up the difficulty with attempting to sell historic race cars on auction websites.

As we all know, many, if not most, historic racing cars have tough histories. They are beat up, modified, crashed, parted out, and often disregarded for years, sometimes decades, in some old lockup.  That is part of the excitement and magic about finding “cars in a barn.” We all know they are there, and we love finding them, or hearing stories about them.

This McLaren has a similar story where not all the pieces neatly fit. Apparently three cars went from Trojan to Ford in South America. Apparently two McLarens came back. Trojan’s letter says one was 70-08 as unraced.  Maybe that was true. However, we also have contemporaneous race records showing 70-08 was in fact raced, and successfully at that. See the above-mentioned race reporting from multiple objective sources. 

So maybe two cars did come back to Trojan, but 70-08 did not. Maybe 70-08 went on to have the history as reported in the race records, and as recounted by Phil Reilly about his later purchase.  Just because a car comes out of South America does not mean it is not the genuine article. We just sold a Lotus that was “lost” in Mexico for decades, but had its original chassis and tag, and has been recognized by the Lotus Registry as the genuine article.

So, back to the issue about trying to sell historic racing cars on auction websites.  Oftentimes bidders do not personally inspect, or have their experts personally inspect the vehicle being auctioned. As such these bidders reasonably need to figure that being an old race car, the car may have some issues, either as to preparation, history, build quality, authenticity, etc. There is only so much knowledge one can attain sitting at home in front of their computer.

So, prudent bidders need to build in some cushion to allay their fears.  In a car with a question about its authenticity, that amount of cushion can easily equal the amount of value in excess of what it would cost to build a copy of the genuine article.  That seems to add up in this case. We see a bid of $161,000.00 which is closer to reproduction cost money. Unfortunately this McLaren appears to be the genuine article and the bid is closer to half the value of a genuine McLaren.

Here is our point. We have seen a lot of race cars for the past 30 plus years. We have seen the real deals, replicas, and pure fakes.  Our position is that we will help you sell your car so long as it is correctly represented, the real deal, the replica, or the fake. Lots of people like replica GT40’s and Cobras. Us too. However when selling it needs to be accurately represented as such, that’s all. 

So with regard to this McLaren, we do not have first hand knowledge of its history. No one does unless they lived in the cockpit for the past 50 years.  However, we have seen it in person, and invite you to do the same. If you can prove this is a replica, or a fake, we would love to learn that, and how you determined it. So far, we just don’t see it.

This McLaren is unique in that it still has what appears to be the original tub and chassis plate. That is highly unusual, and the perfect place for a race car history sleuth to start. If the chassis is genuine, then there is a history. Maybe it is a great history, a lame history, or something in between, but it has to have a history because it is a genuine chassis built in period.  

A chassis is the vessel of a car’s history and value. The history is as inherent to the chassis as the nuts, bolts, and rivets that hold it together. Just because history is not tangible, does not mean it is not real. 

So if the chassis is the genuine article, chassis 70-08, does it matter if we do not have every moment in its history documented? Perhaps it would be even more questionable if we did. We have run into that too, where those who claim a car’s history have an even better story/ownership chain  than the owner’s who were later determined to have the genuine article. What is that line, “Truth is often stranger than fiction?”

If you are a serious collector/vintage racer, and you are interested in an unusually original piece of famous McLaren history, we invite you, and your team of experts, to come inspect this car. Please invite us to join you. We would love it!  We figure that if one is going to spend upwards of a quarter million dollars for a car we think it ought to be just what the buyer expects, not the roll of the dice in an auction.  

Oh yes, back to the car.  It was last raced in 2019, and comes with some spares.

Please feel free to Contact Us if you are interested in this listing.