Model: McLaren M8A
Release: Ertl Cars of the World
eBay link: Ertl McLaren
Why I’m featuring it: When I wrote my children’s book for Kindle, 20 Great Race Cars, I already had in my collection almost all of the toys and models that I featured. To filled the gaps, I borrowed a Hot Wheels Ferrari 250 GTO from a friend but splashed out on this old Ertl because I really wanted to feature the iconic McLaren.
Powered by huge Chevy V8 engines with up to 800 horsepower, the lightweight M8s were good for 200mph and dominated Can-Am sportscar racing in the US and Canada from 1968-71. Can-Am rules permitted lots of design freedom, so constructors like McLaren and Chaparral did pioneering work in aerodynamic downforce – and in the case of Porsche, turbocharging.
Tragically, company founder Bruce McLaren died in a testing accident in a McLaren M8D in 1970. McLaren continued, though, and as we all know, races today in Formula 1, IndyCar and GT racing.
Tin Toys, Siku, Ertl and Buby all made toy M8s back in the day. Some of these are hard to find now but the Ertl M8A can still be found on eBay or at toy shows for a reasonable price.
Update: This model is from the Cars of the World series. After I published this article my good friend @canamcustoms pointed out that many of these castings, including the McLaren, were originally issued by Lintoy in the Linmobile series. Thanks Mark!
Oddly, the packaging says that McLaren is from Italy. Bruce McLaren was a New Zealander, the company was based in the UK and the engine was American!
I’m guessing that geography wasn’t a strong point for the Ertl packaging designer of the time. I have another model in the series, the Ford Mk.IV, which is labeled as being from England. Ironically, as the development of Kar-Kraft’s J-car, the Mk.IV was arguably the only derivative of the GT40 without British roots!
The Hong Kong-made Cars of the World series encompassed some cool vehicles like the Porsche 917, Mercedes C111 and even an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33. Some were quite crude but they still have plenty of charm today, especially the McLaren, which is a sizeable lump of metal.
I’m not quite sure when the two models I have were made. Differences in the blurb on the back of the cards suggest that my particular McLaren was produced after the Kidde takeover of Ertl in 1977, although I’ve no doubt it was available before that. If you know your Ertl and have further information on when either of these models first became Ertls, please let me know in the comments below!
The M8A’s hinged rear bodywork is a cool feature. I’m contemplating detailing the engine.
To finish, here are a couple of shots of the McLaren with the awesome Hot Wheels Shadow Mk.IIa and the Ertl Mk.IV with the original Redline J-Car and recent Hot Wheels Ford Mk.IV. If either of these, or any of the other vintage Cars of the World take your fancy, just hit eBay, there are plenty for sale for not much cash. Happy collecting!
(follow me on Instagram @diecast215)