This car looks almost indistinguishable from the actual McLaren M23 Formula 1 cars used in 1976, but it was actually built far more recently to be used as an on-screen stunt car for the 2013 Ron Howard film Rush.
The plot of Rush focused on the 1976 F1 season battle between Niki Lauda and James Hunt, the two men fought tooth and nail for the Drivers’ Title with Lauda very nearly dying in an accident at the Nürburgring Nordschleife – otherwise known as “The Green Hell.”
Fast Facts – A McLaren M23 Stunt Car
- The original McLaren M23 was introduced for the 1973 season, it was somewhat based on the earlier McLaren M16 Indy car. Denny Hulme would drive one to pole position on its first ever race outing, and it would win three races that season.
- The car you see here is a racing replica of the M23 designed for use on camera during filming of tight race battles, when the use of a real M23 would be too risky.
- Two replicas were built in total, both designed to look (essentially) identical to the original race cars from 1976 – including race damage and patina.
- Whereas the original M23 was powered by a Cosworth DFV V8, this car appears to be powered by an inline-four with double overhead cams, there are dummy DFV heads on either side of it.
Rush – The 2013 Ron Howard Film
Rush was released in 2013, it starred Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda, with Olivia Wilde playing Suzy Miller – Hunt’s wife. The film was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ron Howard and it won over critics, with an 88% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Above Video: This is the theatrical trailer for the 2013 Ron Howard film starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, and Olivia Wilde.
The 1976 Formula 1 season has long been viewed as one of the greatest in the history of the sport, books have been written about it as well as countless articles and a number of documentaries. Rush would be the first time it was the subject of a Hollywood film.
If you haven’t yet seen the film don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it for you here. Suffice to say that Hunt and Lauda battled through thick and thin over the course of the year and by the time the checkered flag fell on the final race of the season the Drivers’ Championship had been won by just a single point.
The McLaren M23
The McLaren M23 was introduced in 1973 and it would become one of the British team’s most successful cars from its early days in Formula 1. It was designed by Gordon Coppuck and John Barnard with major influence from the McLaren M16 Indy car which had been raced in the USA.
The M23 has an aluminum monocoque chassis with double wishbone suspension front and back with inboard coilover shock absorbers and disc brakes. Power was provided by the 3.0 liter Ford-Cosworth DFV (Double Four Valve) 90º V8 which sent power back through a Hewland FG400 gearbox to the rear wheels.
The car tipped the scales at just 575 kgs (1,268 lbs), so its power output of 465 bhp with 280 lb ft of torque was more than enough to ensure blisteringly quick performance. The McLaren M23 would land on pole position in its first race thanks to Denny Hulme and it would win three races in its first year of competition.
McLaren would keep the car in service from 1973 until 1977, with a slew of updates over that time to keep it competitive. It would win the Constructors’ Championship once in that time, with an additional second place finish, and three third place finishes.
The M23 would be driven to win two Drivers’ Championships as well as 16 race wins, 14 pole positions, and it would set 10 fastest laps.
The McLaren M23 Replica Stunt Car Shown Here
The car you see here was carefully built to look like the McLaren M23, and it’s not until most people start looking under the bodywork that they start to see differences.
Due to the fact that it hasn’t been used much since the film was made a decade ago it would need a thorough recommissioning before any serious driving is attempted.
Looking over the images in the listing it appears that this stunt car version of the M23 is actually powered by an inline-four cylinder engine with double overhead cams and twin Weber carburetors.
Power is sent back to the rear wheels via a Reynard transmission and there are dummy Cosworth DFV heads on either side to keep it looking like the original when the engine cover is on ready for filming.
If you’d like to read more about this car or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Silverstone Auctions. It’s due to cross the auction block in England on the 12th of November with a price guide of £50,000 – £80,000 or approximately $57,200 – $91,500 USD.
Images courtesy of Silverstone Auctions
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