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1973 McLaren M23

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1973 McLaren M23

€1,750,000 - €2,250,000 EUR

  • Offered from The Jody Scheckter Collection
  • One of McLaren’s greatest Formula 1 designs achieving the marque's first Constructors’ Championship in 1973
  • A model that scored two Drivers' Championships with Fittipaldi (1974) and Hunt (1976)
  • Used by Revson for much of the 1973 Formula 1 Championship, achieving victory at the British Grand Prix
  • Additionally raced by Scheckter in two Grands Prix
  • Entered into a remarkable 63 races in period—double South African F1 champion
  • Latterly part of the McLaren factory collection before being traded into the Scheckter Collection
  • Eligible for historic racing events around the world including the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique


Addendum: Please note this lot has entered the EU on a temporary import bond, which must be cancelled either by exporting the lot outside of the EU on an approved Bill of Lading with supporting customs documentation or by paying the applicable VAT and import duties to have the lot remain in the EU.

Veuillez noter que ce lot est entré dans l'UE sous couvert d'une autorisation d'importation temporaire, qui doit être annulée soit en exportant le lot en dehors de l'UE avec une lettre de débarquement approuvé accompagné des documents douaniers nécessaires, soit en payant la TVA et les droits d'importation applicables pour que le lot reste dans l'UE.

Eager to improve on their 3rd-placed finishes in both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships of 1972, McLaren started 1973 with its incumbent M19C chassis before introducing the new Gordon Coppuck-designed M23 from the third round of the Championship onwards. The new car borrowed heavily from Coppuck’s Indianapolis 500-winning M16 design and followed the prevailing trends of wedge-shaped aerodynamics and integral side-mounted radiators; the latter compliant with the new deformable monocoque regulations applied to 1973-specification cars.

In accommodating both the oil tank and fuel cell amidships, the car exhibited a noticeably front-biased driving position. Its front suspension retained the inboard, rising-rate system of the M19—albeit optimised—while at the rear adjustable top links, reversed lower wishbones and twin-parallel radius rods were employed. Once again, McLaren retained the tried-and-tested combination of a Ford DFV engine and five-speed Hewland FG400 transaxle.

First seen at the International Trophy in April 1973, this particular car, chassis M23-2, was Peter Revson’s race chassis for eight of the 15 rounds of that year’s World Championship season. The relationship started positively, with the non-championship event at Silverstone yielding 4th place; a result later repeated at the Spanish Grand Prix at Montjuich Park. In Monaco, Revson retained the upper hand against teammate Hulme by finishing 5th, although the situation was reversed in Sweden when Hulme took the M23’s maiden win at Anderstorp, with Revson 7th.

At July’s French Grand Prix, M23-2 was repurposed as the team’s spare car, but at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone it was back in Revson’s hands—and would unwittingly play a starring role in one of the most infamous Grands Prix ever held. A fine qualifying performance had Revson and Hulme join Ronnie Peterson’s pole-sitting Lotus 72D on the front row of the grid, with the 1971 and 1972 World Champions—Stewart and Fittipaldi respectively—immediately behind.

If the race’s first lap was relatively uneventful, the start of its second has since passed into Grand Prix legend. The fast-starting Jody Scheckter—at the wheel of M23-3—had just passed both McLaren teammates into Woodcote corner, when he hit a damp patch and spun the car into the pit wall. An otherwise relatively innocuous accident rapidly escalated, as the South African ricocheted directly into the path of the approaching midfield runners; some eight cars—including the entire three-car Surtees team—being eliminated as a result.

After a lengthy delay, the 19 surviving cars reassembled for the restart in their original grid order, albeit with significant gaps now present. Once again Peterson led away, initially pursued by Lauda’s BRM, Stewart’s Tyrrell, and Fittipaldi’s Lotus. Revson held a watching brief in 5th, although a stellar seventh lap—and an uncharacteristic spin from Stewart—pushed the American up to 4th place. One lap later, the McLaren passed Lauda for 3rd, while on lap 37 Fittipaldi suddenly slowed with transmission problems; the American assuming 2nd as a result. A brief rain shower further aided Revson’s cause, and on lap 39 he passed Peterson for the race lead; a position he protected masterfully for the remaining 26 laps to take a hugely popular maiden Grand Prix win.

Chassis M23-2 next appeared at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, in which Revson finished 4th behind the pace-setting Tyrrells of Stewart and Cevert and the Hesketh-entered March 731 of James Hunt; the latter visiting the podium for the first time in his nascent Grand Prix career. A 9th-place finish at the Nürburgring would mark the car’s final completed race of the year; the American retiring on the first lap of the Austrian Grand Prix with clutch failure, and teammate Scheckter—having taken over M23-2 for the Canadian and United States Grands Prix—failing to finish either due to an accident and suspension failure respectively.

A strong end to the season had Revson secure victory in Canada at the wheel of M23-4, and 5th in the Drivers’ Championship behind Stewart, Fittipaldi, Peterson and Cevert. Undeniably, the charismatic American enhanced his reputation considerably, for he had outscored teammate Hulme by two wins to one—and by 38 points to 26—of which 17 had been scored at the wheel of M23-2.

Over the winter, M23-2 was sold to South African construction magnate Aldo Scribante, whose Scuderia Scribante-entered cars were invariably driven by his protégé Dave Charlton, and had dominated the South African Formula 1 Championship since 1970. Appropriately re-liveried in the colours of sponsor Lucky Strike, Charlton first contested the 1974 South African Grand Prix, finishing 19th, before taking six wins to secure his fifth consecutive South African Formula 1 Championship. The 1975 season yielded a repeat performance, with Charlton finishing 14th in his home Grand Prix, prior to two wins and a record-equalling sixth title.

The adoption of Formula Atlantic as South Africa’s top-flight class from 1976 onwards effectively rendered M23-2 ineligible for further domestic competition, with Scribante consequently offering the car for sale. Subsequently acquired by 1973 Australian “Gold Star” Champion John McCormack, it was converted to F5000 specification in preparation for the upcoming 1976 series. Duly equipped with a 4.9-litre version of the all-alloy Leyland P76 production V-8 engine—in contrast to the DFV installation, suspended via twin A-frames and operating as an “unstressed” unit—the car proved competitive, with the Tasmanian taking a win at Calder and 3rd place in the end of year standings. Greater consistency was the key to a victorious 1977 campaign, with wins at Surfers Paradise and Winton and podium finishes at Calder and Philip Island securing a second Championship for McCormack, ahead of no less than seven Chevrolet-powered Lola T332/T400 challengers.

By 1978, both the competitiveness and reliability of M23-2 was on the wane, and in 1979 McCormack converted the car to central-seat Can-Am specification in order to contest a handful of races in North America. The sojourn yielded just one finish—at Watkins Glen—in three starts, and upon its return to Australia, M23-2 was converted back to single-seat F5000 specification. However, a serious road accident en route to the 1980 Australian Grand Prix at Calder left McCormack with life-changing injuries; his illustrious racing career, regrettably, at an end as a result.

After a brief period in storage, M23-2 was reacquired by McLaren who restored it to its original DFV-engined specification for display in their burgeoning Heritage Collection. Thereafter it passed, appropriately, to its former driver—and 1979 World Champion—Jody Scheckter in direct exchange for M19C-1, and has remained in his private collection since.

Chassis M23-2 must surely rank among the most active and historically significant of all Formula 1 cars. A remarkable example of one of McLaren’s greatest models, it is also blessed with glorious patina, impeccable provenance, and enviable eligibility for numerous historic racing events.


Keyword Search Terms:

1973 McLaren M23. ex The Jody Scheckter


Item Location: Monaco
Joined October 2019
  RM Sotheby's
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Company: RM Sotheby's
Country: United Kingdom
City: Richmond
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7851 7070
Condition Used
Trade or Private: Trade
Price: £POA
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Added: 15/03/2024
Views: 3585

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