Tuesday 6 April 2010

The McLaren M8F that never was …

I decided to post the following story from my friend Jennifer Revson.

Recently, while strolling with friends among the beautiful cars displayed at the Amelia Island Concours d’Élegance, we happened upon a replica of Peter’s (Revson’s) 1971 Can-Am Championship McLaren Team M8F, the same replica that I first saw at the 2009 Monterey Historic races. I turned to my friend, Don Devine, who owns Peter’s McLaren M20, and pole-winning Indy car, and asked why a continuation car, presented as the real one, would be allowed at such a prestigious event? Don’t they check? Don shook his head and said he didn’t know, while another friend, who was showing a car on the Concours said: “They don’t care. It’s all for show.” How disappointing, I thought.

1971 Can-Am Champion Peter Revson
Photo courtesy and © of Jennifer Revson

At the Monterey Historics in August 2009, when I first laid eyes on this wannabe M8F team car, I was told by the owners that it was indeed the real deal. Although it looked different than what I recalled of Peter’s car, I thought that at this renowned event, surely they’d have checked the car’s authenticity in order for it to be invited to participate. And, with that in mind, I put my speculative doubts momentarily aside in favor of being polite. In hindsight, though, I wish I’d been more reticent when asked to pose in the car for pictures. Minutes after leaving their garage, I met up with the first of many over the weekend, who confirmed the car was indeed a fake.

Back at Amelia Island, a former racecar driver was now in the cockpit, revving up the motor, waving and grandstanding to a sizable gathered crowd, posing for pictures with the owners. I couldn’t believe such codswallop! I was so disgusted, I went to a judging official standing nearby, introduced myself, and explained this was not an M8F McLaren Team car, and certainly not a car my brother Peter was ever in, and asked if he would please tell whomever would be judging the car that it was a re-creation. He said he would. At the same time, Don walked over to speak to the owner. When he returned to relate the unbecoming comments, I caught the owner’s wife telling the inquiring judging official something so contemptible, my ears nearly caught on fire. With that, I marched over to the owner to ask what the hell he thought he was doing. Staying true to form, his reply reflected his character. So much for honoring the memory of Peter Revson, one of America’s foremost drivers and his championship winning car.

Peter Revson's winning McLaren M8F
Photo courtesy and © of Larry Fulhorst

The shameful part is that the owner is not only deceptively trading on my brother’s fame in order to be accepted into an elite group of collectors and race enthusiasts, but is also passing a continuation car off as legit while misusing my brother’s name for profit.

There’s a place for “Tribute cars” and re-creations in vintage racing, but let’s maintain respect for the authentic team cars and drivers who made racing history. You can verify that this is a replica Commander Motors-built car, and see its owner history at: World Sports Racing Prototypes — McLaren Can-Am Chassis Numbers (http://wsrp.ic.cz/chassis/chassis_mclaren_canam.html). Scroll halfway down the page, just past the M8FP chart.

Imitation is not always flattering …

Jennifer Revson,
sister and legal representative of the estate of the late Peter Revson

PS There is more on this in The Garage Blog.


Anonymous said...

An original is an original-a recreation or a car made from original parts is not an original-it's very simple. Passing off one for the other should not be acceptable-regardless of motive.

Unknown said...

Three Cheers Jenifer !!!
Having been involved with the build of my own tribute 1968 U2 911 Trans Am winning Championship car, I can assure you it is no easy road ahead. With more and more of these cars being lost over the years, many recreation cars will be made. Of course I am still here and your brother is not to represent the car. Peter depends on you to preserve his wonderful reputation.

I can only say the representing a re creation as the real deal is not what is should be all about.

Nancy Knapp Schilke said...

Jennifer, I for one am very glad you spoke up as this should not be allowed. There are too many of us who fondly remember our friend Peter and it is disrespectful for one to use his good name. Great article that came from your heart.

Paul, My many thanks for posting my friend and your friend's point of view.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Jennifer you are a brave lady to take on this subject of replicas and correct provenance.
Unfortunately the organizers of such events don't have the staff to verify provenance claims on the multitude of marques. It has always bugged me that some otherwise good people would make up history for their cars in order to gain acceptance to a prestigious event.

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting, Paul. I'm happy to say this guy is NOT an SCMer. I like to think we're a classier lot.

Leigh O'Gorman said...

Very interesting letter Paul. I'm not surprised that this does happen; there must be "some" deal of money involved

Jacques N. Dresang said...

A great read Jennifer, my team firmly stands behind what you have said. There has been a lot of this going on for some time, there are some people in this sport for all of the wrong reasons.

Granted, I understand how some people want to have a 'tribute' car, but they have no right to call it the real thing.

In the research I have done on our cars, I have painstakingly had to dig up manufacture information and interview crew members, family and previous owners to add credibility to our cars, since USAC never really had logbooks. In one instance, we came across one fellow who said he owned the history to one of our cars, but as it turned our, the car he owned wasn't even around in 1973 when our car debuted. He was and still is a rather shady character and is currently in the news for some nelectful activity in the safety end of the sport.

As far as judges not knowing the real thing from a fake, all I can say is that from someone who is closely associated with vintage race cars, I would probably avoid any event that would allow this to happen in the future.

Accountability is becoming something of a lost-trait in today's culture, and it is up to the judges at hand at such events to know what they are looking at. If not, they should not be judging. As in any field, professional or not, if you don't know what you are dealing with when it is presented in front of you, you are unfit to make a skilled, justified judgement in that role

Luckily, there are some great people in this sport who know what is going on and are trying to ensure that the real cars and those attached to them receive the credit they deserve. To some, cars act as living memories of drivers and crew members who have since passed. We do what we believe is right and respectful to preserve the history and integrity of our cars so that future generations can take in.

Respectfully Yours,

Jacques N. Dresang

Automobiliart.com said...

Very well put, Mr. Dresang.

gilles said...

I'm with Jennifer. i think both (original and reacreation) has right to exist but exactly as a purchaser can choose what to buy (with its different cost), so everyone have the right to know what they are wachting! it must be clearly written on the display. I think it should be the responsibility of the organization ask to each owners the certificates of origin of their car. As bandini register, we offer this service and i think every builder do that. It's easy and first of all, true.
Michele Orsi Bandini

j b walker said...

Totally agree with this position. Why a car without proper documentation should even be allowed to be shown is an issue the promotors should insist upon.

However, we also need to recognize that a number of "true" cars - especially those which were all aluminum or race damaged which require new panels for safety or for "total restoration" for show should be allowed if not encouraged for those upgrades.

The question then resides if an individual obtains a rear suspension from a qualified "vintage" car and that is all that's left of the first car, and places it into a new car, Then does that car become "THE CAR" ? This is where documentation and integrity must prevail. Unfortunatly greed and lust for the sport and money can also enter the debate.

I applaud the efforts to keep the true cars as recognized as true, otherwise why would we spend the time money and effort to maintain such a legacy.