Over the past few years here in The Garage we’ve discussed the legitimacy of clone replicas and continuation builds. All of us agree there is a place for these cars, just so long as the owners don’t attempt to deceive anyone as to the actual provenance of said car. Thanks to Paul Chenard, we have just one such example today.
Paul’s friend Jennifer Revson is the late Peter Revson’s sister. She remains active in the enthusiast sister and continues to manage her brother’s affairs since his death during practice for the 1974 South African Grand Prix. At the 2009 Monterey Historics, Jennifer saw the McLaren M8F above and was informed by the owner that it was indeed a McLaren team car. A few inquiries around the paddock brought to light that the car is actually a replica that was built by the Commander Motorhomes racing team from spare parts.
A few weeks ago, Ms. Revson saw the same car at the Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance, again being passed off at the original Revson car. I’ll let her take up the story:
“Back at Amelia Island, a former racecar driver was now in the cockpit, revving up the motor, waving and grandstanding to a sizable gathered crowd, posing for pictures with the owners. I couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t believe such codswallop! I was so disgusted, I went to a judging official standing nearby, introduced myself, and explained this was not an M8F McLaren Team car, and certainly not a car my brother Peter was ever in, and asked if he would please tell whomever would be judging the car that it was a re-creation. He said he would. At the same time, Don walked over to speak to the owner. When he returned to relate the unbecoming comments, I caught the ownerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s wife telling the inquiring judging official something so contemptible, my ears nearly caught on fire. With that, I marched over to the owner to ask what the hell he thought he was doing. Staying true to form, his reply reflected his character. So much for honoring the memory of Peter Revson, one of AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s foremost drivers and his championship winning car.”
I must say that Ms. Revson is certainly a master of political correctness. I would have been tempted to publish the owner’s comments verbatim just to make him look even more silly.
Those who have never attempted to keep track of the lifespan of a purpose built racing car should be aware that these cars were often crashed and rebuilt, with pieces being swapped back and forth as they were needed. Even the actual tub would sometimes be replaced if needed, which makes it even tougher to follow. I’ve done a bunch of reading this morning and I can see how easily someone could be confused about the origin of this car. That said, it is equally clear that it is not the car raced by Peter Revson.
From what I can find, there were 3 cars built for the 1971 season.
M8F-i was a prototype that was rebuilt and back dated to become M8D/4
M8F-1 Raced by Denny Hulme in 1971, sold to Gregg Young.
M8F-2 Raced by Peter Revson in 1971, also sold to Gregg Young
Here is where things get a bit muddy. Looking at comments made by some gents who were around at the time, it would appear that Young completely destroyed one of the cars at a race in Edmonton in 1972. The strange thing is that the Bruce Mclaren Trust register has full histories of both cars up until 2007 when M8F-2 falls off the list. There is also no mention of either car being destroyed.
One thing that each source I’ve looked at seems to agree upon is that the Commander Motor Homes team built another car from spare parts and that this car did not have a serial number. The World Sports Racing Prototypes archive indicates that this is the car that we see above.
A comment that I have heard from several international vintage racing competitors and again while researching today is that there are many cases of “the original” car being raced in Europe AND in North America, yet they are completely different cars with different owners. How does it happen? Pretty simple really: with all the crashed tubs and all the spare parts that were created, all one really needs is a serial number marked on the body somewhere. Once that serial number is there, it is easy to build a car around it and pass it off as the real deal.
Like any other hobby, a well turned out imitation might be impressive, but it still lacks some luster when compared to the real deal.
It would seem that the owner has a car with a legitimate racing history that is a neat piece of the McLaren puzzle. If that is the case, many enthusiasts, including Revson’s family, would be much more appreciative of his rather unique race car. Instead, he chooses to dupe race fans and offend the family of the star whose image increases the value of the car.
The original copywritten image above was provided by motorsport photographer Darren Pierson and was shot at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours. You can see more of his work at DPerceptions and find him trackside at a race near you.