Hulme would have to make do with winning that season’s Formula 1 world title in a Brabham.
He turned the Can-Am tables in 1968 when, now full-time with McLaren, he won thrice to Bruce’s once – and McLarens won all six rounds thanks to Penske’s Mark Donohue and, aboard a two-year-old model cleaving through pouring rain at Laguna Seca on Firestone inters, English-born Canadian John Cannon.
McLaren had by now joined rivals in its use of the 7-litre big-block, worth an extra 100bhp, but still its wing lay in the wings.
M8A’s chassis, a joint effort by Gordon Coppuck and Jo Marquart following Herd’s departure to Cosworth, was simplified by chopping it directly behind the driver, but steel bulkheads were retained for durability.
Its ‘rat motor’ V8, sitting lower due to a dry sump, was hung from the rearmost of them. Its Hewland gearbox was reduced to four speeds on account of the increased torque, as well as the rolling starts, and was stronger and lighter as a result. And its body shape was more angular in the search of more downforce.
Longer and wider, it was no heavier than its predecessor.