By Tom Dandes

If you were ever fortunate enough to watch a 1:1 Can-Am car race then you know that these cars were beasts.

Traction control, Paddle shifters, computer controlled engines and braking? You have got to be kidding!

These cars were made when the rulebook allowed car builders to create works of art with innovative thinking and massive horsepower. Where drivers actually drove the cars instead of computers.

 Yep beasts, fuel injected big block Chevy engines that displaced over 430ci and 620bhp. They were capable of melting tires anytime, anywhere with the tons of torque that they produced. There was even rumors that the 1971 M8F Mclaren cars were running over 740bhp and had so much torque that tire companies ran and hide from them.

And then there was the sound. To hear 30 big block engines on the pipe turning 8000 rpm as they screamed past you would make anyone stand in awe or wet your pants.

But it is all gone now. Some cars still can be seen in museums and at special events but nothing like it was in the Can-Am hay days.

So yes I have a special fondness for Can-Am cars. And now that Historic Scale Racing Replicas has released the new Mclaren M8Dís it was a must have for me to get one and try and relive some of the past glory.

Body and paint:

Is it 1/32 scale? Its as close as you are probably ever going get to a true 1/32 scale car. The body detail and shape is outstanding and I think that HSRR captured the M8D exceptionally well. The cars paint is flawless and done in that traditional Mclaren orange color that we know and love so well. 

Look close and see Dan Gurneyís roll bar has the piece added to it so Dan could be allowed to race without his head sticking over top. And the there is the patch on Danís left arm. There you can see the Castrol patch that got him into trouble with Mclarenís Gulf Oil sponsors (Oops). 

On the body the only gripe I have is that the car seems to sit a little to high off the rear tires. This is a very minor item that I can easily live with.


Wheels for this car are polished aluminum with plastic inserts and they are true as true can be. The details on the wheel inserts look fantastic and duplicate the Mclaren style rims that were used in 1970ís beautifully. For you true detail fans Danís car at Mosport had polished not black wheel spokes. Itís real easy to change if it means that much to you, but still not enough for me to worry about.  

The spun aluminum wheels are pressed on to knurled axles front and rear. I donít recommend trying to remove the wheels from the axles because they could be damaged. Maybe we could talk HSRR into using grub screws in the future. This would make it easier for tuners like my self to change gear sets.


           Tires are HSRRís own Hot Shoes and duplicated the Mclarenís tires right down to tread design. Tires are nice and soft and hook up nicely with only a little truing needed to round the edges and remove the casting numbs.

 Body Interior. 

          Interior detail is nice with gauges that can be seen and even comes with itís own fire extinguisher for those of you that like to crash and burn. Look close and youíll see that Danís hands actually rest on the steering wheel the way they are supposed to and even his visor rises up. Itís the little attention to detail things that make this car nice.

One thing I have to ask is who painted the eyes on the driver? They are two huge black dots that seem to follow you as you move around the room. Scary!


The chassis has five screws that need to be removed for disassembly. Make sure you know where each screw came out of because there are three different sizes. Once apart you see that the chassis is like a giant pan that is also part of the body. I donít think you will find any chassis flex here.

You can also see the steering set up for the guide and the front tires. Steering? Yes I said steering. There is an upper and a lower ďAĒ frame that uses actual linkage that attaches to the guide. As the guide turns so do the tires. Some may like this set up and some may not. I myself have never seen where steering increases or decreases lap times. Besides it a nice touch to have the wheels turn when the car is sideways so no complaints here either.

 Look in the chassis you will see that the motors wires are almost missing. HSRR used brass strips to move power from the guide to the motor.

Anyone of you ever had a wire come out of the guide while racing and watch your car come to a screaming halt? I have. So this is fine by me as it is just one less potential problem removed from the game. But it would have been nice to have female spade terminals where the wires are soldered to the chassis strips. This would allow the pod assembly to be removed from the rest of the chassis.

 Gear set:

          Gear set is a 12-tooth pinion with a 36-tooth spur gear for a 3.27:1 gear set. Running the car produced smooth quite gear noises with nothing strange going on. This was nice to hear or should I say nice not to hear.



          Front axles are pressed in brass stub axles that have no sloppy clearances. Everything was tight and didnít allow the front wheels to bind or sag. This is the way stub axles should be. Very nice work!

Rear axle is straight and has brass bushings that were oiled from that factory they didnít spin in the chassis (nice work again). Here I found that the side-to-side axle to bushing clearance was a little tight (red arrows above) and caused some very minor axle bind. Mine was resolved just by running the car. But being the curious individual I am I went to HSRRís web site to see what they had to say about it.

 So under tune up tips they have listed a step-by-step procedure on how to fix this problem. Also listed under this same section are diagrams showing where the different chassis screws go incase you forgot, and a fix if your front tires donít touch the track. Try the web address listed below.


 I donít know about you but to see a company have this information posted on their site speaks volumes about their commitment to their products. Nice move HSRR!


The magnet is located in the rear just in front of the motor. It sits in the sidewinder pod and can be easily removed by lifting out the pod and pushing down on the magnet. There is also has a brass shim the sits over it that can be moved for the top to under the magnet for less pull.


Hear the motor seems to be the standard Mabuchi that seen in most cars. But look close because this one is a can drive and not and end bell like we normally see. For those that like more power make sure you order a can drive motor or a motor that is shafted on each end.


The guide uses a folded braid set up and can be a little stiff turning out of the box. Some white lithium grease around the guidepost and drop of oil between the chassis and the guide will help solve the problem. It is longer than most guides out there but it is still a shallow guide. I didnít have any problems with the car de-sloting but I still fill that all cars should now come with deep guide for the new tracks made today.


Braid is real made of real stiff material and for this car and can be run out of the box as is. But I recommend replacing it with something softer and that lays down flatter to the guide and the track. This tip does help the performance of the car. 


 My Opinions

(The car was tested out of the box with only the lubricants provided by HSRR.  There were no braid adjustment, no tire truing, nothing was done to this car).

My first impressions were right about the rear axle bind. But this loosened up within ten laps and the axle started spinning free. The car started getting quicker and quicker and quicker as things broke in and I found out how the Mclaren wanted to be driven.

It was easy to see that this can be an easy car to drive with a good balance of magnet and tires. The Hot shoe tires seemed to get better with each lap and it wasnít long before I could push old Dan hard into the turns and get the Mclaren side ways. Very, very few De-slots and I had to work to get it to.

Motor speed and braking seemed good for the car but the 3.0 gear set has you leaving the corners a little slower. This just caused me to push harder into the turns to keep the speed up and that is were you see how the Hot Shoe tires really work and for non-silicones tires I was impressed.

Braid adjustment and truing the tires did help lap times. But just leaving the car as is I felt it ran fantastic Out Of The Box!

For HSRRís first time at mass produced cars I feel they produced a real winner. Now the question is when are they going to give us the rest of the Can-Am Field? Many of us have been waiting patently for just these cars.

So, HSRR are you listening?

Remember to have fun with your hobby.

Tom Dandes

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