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Tamiya 1/18 McLaren M8A – CanAm

The sport of Can-Am racing was in the ’60s one of the most fierce motorsports anywhere in the world.  Faster than F1 machines of the time, one particular team was making shockwaves through the sport – McLaren.  Known for their bright ‘canary orange’ liveries and oddly shaped ‘engine trumpets’ these orange cars are now the most iconic machines of the Can-Am series.  5th gear power-slides at 200+ KPH was all in a days work for drivers Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme, and many have fond memories of seeing these charismatic machines as children.

Model: Tamiya 1/18 McLaren M8A – CanAm

The Kitset

This particular one is a bit bigger than we are used to being a 1/18 scale although it looks great.  Moulded in orange, black, and grey with a chrome-plated tree with assorted engine components.  The body is a 2 piece design just as the cars were, the body sits directly on the tub and is fastened through some small ‘clip’ style parts to ensure it is held in place.

Originally designed as a motorised kitset, this re-release is tooled just as it was originally although does not include the motorised parts.  Due to this the design and build is minimal, suspension is very simplified although this does not retract from the quality and look of the kit.  Decals that come with the kit are manufactured by Cartograf.

Engine & Suspension

The engine is modelled on the 7-litre Chevrolet aluminium block which makes 620BHP.  The engine comes complete with the iconic trumpets these cars ran.  The level of detail is good for a larger kitset and the fitment was superb.  Plenty of room is available for those who wish to detail the engine to display the car with rear cowling off.

Suspension is simplistic when being fitted to the car’s tub.  Despite looking like that off a slot-car kit, once built and body is attached 90% of the setup is hidden from view so it is not an issue.  The suspension has a slight amount of spring in it, and allows the car to sit at a nice realistic height as can be an issue with some motorsport kit sets.

The chassis tub painted and ready to be fitted with engine.

Completed engine with added ignition-coils.

The suspension fitted to the tub.

Bodywork and Cockpit

The bodywork on this McLaren consists of two large parts.  The rear section requires two-pieces to be joined to form the engine cover, and then the two cowlings are joined onto the car by small clips.  The body fitment required a small amount of work to ensure a close fit.  The body was then painted in Tamiya TS-34  Camel Yellow with three coats to ensure the vibrant McLaren colour was attained.

Cockpit is very simple and with a small amount of work could be drastically improved, the kitset due to older tooling was not as detailed and complex as the kitsets we are used to from recent years.

The body prior to painting.

The bodywork after paint.  A more realistic color used on the actual race machines.

Final touches

The decals for this kitset are supplied by Cartograf and are of very good quality.  The white number decals do not show any hint’s of the orange through them and are easy to apply and sit very nicely on the kit.  Small chrome 2-piece mirrors are attached to the body and  the windshield is fixed to complete the kit. Number 4 is supplied for Bruce McLaren and number 5 for Denny Hulme.

Overall despite the simplicity of the model, it suprised me.  I was unsure of exactly how good it would look due to the smaller number of pieces it contained although the finished product looks great sitting in a display case and is great to have Tamiya producing this model as Can-Am machines are very hard to come by in kitset form.  A must for any keen motorsport modeller.






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  1. This thing looks awesome thanks for posting!

  2. Wow, good looking kit!

  3. Nice!

    I’m building one at the moment, was researching interior tub colours.


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