McLaren Engines was created in 1969 when the New Zealand-born company founder and racing legend Bruce McLaren established a North American base to support his initiatives in the Can-Am and Indy racing series. McLaren won five Can-Am championships in the nine years the series was run. Team McLaren won the Indy 500 in both 1974 and 1976 with Johnny Rutherford behind the wheel. By the end of that decade, McLaren racing efforts were re-concentrated in Europe with a focus on F1. Today, the two McLaren entities co-exist in name only. McLaren Engineering, as it is known today, has remained in the Detroit area as a leading powertrain engineering and development service to the North American automotive industry.
Throughout the 1980s and 90s, McLaren operated as a specialty prototype and niche vehicle fabrication and engine development and testing service. The Livonia, Michigan headquarters was a centre for turbocharged racing engines from 1000 hp Offenhausers to Cosworth V-8s, Buick V-6s for Indy/IMSA and compact 2 liter BMWs that produced up to 900 hp. In addition, McLaren built turbocharged V-8s in support of Cadillac's LeMans effort. An instant legend was created when McLaren Engines designed and developed the awe-inspiring Buick GNX as the powertrain partner to ASC Inc. along with the McLaren Mustang and the Pontiac GTP Turbo to follow. Other projects included the Ford FR 500/200/100 concept vehicles and the modified Ford Focus featured in the original "Fast and the Furious" movie. In 1998, a management team purchased the assets of McLaren Engines and re-named it McLaren Engineering which was acquired by Linamar in 2003.
Today, the racing heritage and commitment to powertrain performance still resonate within McLaren, though it has evolved to become a design, development, testing and prototype operation with a focus on original equipment manufacturing. McLaren is fully integrated into the Linamar family as a vital resource in the engineering and development cycle for the systems and components Linamar provides to OEMs. McLaren's capabilities offer a full complement of services that can take the form of any three of the primary functions including fully owned product with black box design responsibilities, collaborative grey box design, development, testing and prototyping, and contract testing, prototyping, and build services. In 2016, Linamar unveiled a new state-of-the-art facility housing an Advanced Gear Lab, Rapid Prototype Manufacturing Cell, & Production Scale Manufacturing Simulation Cell.
- Frank Hasenfratz