Petersen Automotive Museum celebrates McLaren’s papaya livery

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Brandan Gillogly

Bruce McLaren was an auto racing pioneer whose cars took checkered flags in a wide variety of motorsports disciplines. The company’s Can-Am cars used gorgeous, swoopy lines and mid-mounted Chevy V-8 engines. Its early F1 cars used DOHC Ford V-8s and sleek, trim fuselages. Its road cars brought track performance to the street. All were beautiful machines, but there wasn’t anything to tie their shared identity together until 1967, when McLaren settled on a distinctive shade of orange for its Can-Am entries. For the next few years, the papaya orange livery was a signature for McLaren racing and was worn in Can-Am, Champ/Indy car, Formula 1, Formula 2, and Formula 5000.

To many fans, McLaren is synonymous with sleek, big-block-Chevy-powered Can-Am racers with velocity stacks just aft of the driver, like this 1972 McLaren MF8P. Brandan Gillogly

The Petersen Automotive Museum is highlighting McLaren’s vivid livery in an exhibit called The Color of Success. You can find the exhibit on the museum’s second floor in the Charles Nearburg Family Gallery. An array of 1960s and ’70s McLaren cars surround the 2018 McLaren MCL33, which was the brand’s F1 competitor. It marked McLaren’s return to papaya 50 years after its F1 debut.

2018 McLaren MCL33 Brandan Gillogly

These fantastic machines will be on display until April 2023, so you’ve got plenty of time to drop by if you find yourself in Los Angeles. You can find tickets to the museum here, and if you need any more reasons to visit, we have some more museum highlights for you to enjoy.

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