A Leda or a McRae?

| Photographer Credit: Geoff Ridder

This stunning #001 Chassis was on display at the opening round of the SAS Autoparts MSC NZ F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series at Pukekohe over the weekend.  Is it a McRae or a Leda?


Because it is 001 (the very first ‘GM1’) it was built when Graham McRae, arguably the quickest F5000 driver of the day, was working with Malcolm Bridgeland of Malaya Garage and famed designer Len Terry, the guy behind the Leda marque.


Leda had built a McLaren M10B-style car so Graham brought his knowledge of the work he had done on his own M10B (the black ‘Crown Lynn’ car to the deal).


Then during 1972 McRae and a new business partner bought out Terry and set up on their own to build ‘McRae GM1s.’


Because of the pace of development at the time he had the idea of a radical, low slung new car based on look of the McLaren M19 (the first Yardley McLaren) so this is what he planned out and Terry did the drafting up and building, so technically the car is a Leda LT27.



McRae won the 1972 Tasman Series and the 1972 US L & M Continental Series in this chassis before being sold and used here in the 1973 Gold Star and Tasman series by Wellington driver Dexter Dunlop.


It was the first of McRae’s three GM1 cars to run in the distinctive fluro-pink colours of sponsor STP, 001 was arguably the single most successful F5000 car of the 1971-1973 period.


When he ran it here first and won the 1972 Tasman Series in it, Graham apparently referred to it as the Leda ‘GM1.’



A trailer fire ended its competitive life back in the 1970s but after a global search for parts by Alistair Hey and Motorsport Solutions it has been rebuilt to original Leda LT27-spec and will run as such this weekend, in the capable hands of Michael Collins, 44 years after it last turned a wheel.

Benjamin Carrell

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits both talkmotorsport.co.nz and nzmotorracing.co.nz. He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!


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