The story of the marque
There's very little in F1 that remains the same – not least our famous logo. We take a look at how it has evolved over half a century at the pinnacle of motorsport.
1963 – 1966
The first McLaren crest (see illustrations at the bottom of the page) was designed in 1964 by Michael Turner – famous motorsport artist and close friend of Bruce McLaren – for the fledgling Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team. It centred on a Kiwi, the national symbol of Bruce’s homeland, New Zealand. In a more refined era, it's less of a corporate identity and more reflects a coat of arms for a group of gallant racing adventurers.
On the track: The logo first featured on the steering wheel and bodywork panelling of the 1964 Group 7 McLaren M1A – the car in which Bruce led for 55 laps at its very first event at Mosport Park, Canada.
1967 – 1980
The more dynamic ‘Speedy Kiwi’ was introduced in 1967, once again designed by Michael Turner to emphasise the higher speeds at which Bruce’s cars were racing. It also took on a striking papaya orange colour which familiarly became known as ‘McLaren Orange’. Why orange? Some say to honour a sponsor’s orange livery, whilst others claim that it was appropriated by the team as the national racing colours of New Zealand. Either way, it certainly made the car stand out!
'McLaren Orange' quickly fizzled out when corporate sponsors played an increasing role in Formula . However the logo and Can-Am, Formula 2 and Formula 5000 cars continued to sport distinctive papaya.
On the track: The Speedy Kiwi’s first appearance came on the 1967 Can-Am McLaren M6A driven by Bruce and Denny Hulme. However it will be best remembered for appearing on the McLaren M7A, the car that helped Bruce win McLaren’s first ever grand prix in Belgium in 1968.
1981 – 1990
Reflecting the sport’s international growth, the ‘Speedy Kiwi’ disappeared to be replaced by the McLaren International logo. It was designed by Raymond Loewy as a gift from sponsor Phillip Morris and evokes a chequered flag. Malboro wanted the colour on the car to correlate with the colour of their brand but on television their normal shade seemed darker. So, after testing types of red, rocket red exploded onto the car and logo.
On the track: McLaren enjoyed some great success during this period, with Niki Lauda winning our third drivers’ championship and Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost winning 15 out of the 16 races in the 1988 MP4/4.
1991 – 1997
As our ambition on the track converged with our nascent road car division, the three chevrons merged into one, and the font became more modern and sophisticated. The logo may have changed but our cars remained as successful as ever.
On the track: In 1991, Ayrton Senna won the last of his three drivers’ championships after winning the first four races of the season.
1997 – 2002
The revamped logo that first appeared in 1997 featured a streamlined speedmark which bares similarities to the vortices created by our rear wing. It appeared on the top of our cars’ side-pods. They evoke the aggressive markings found on predatory animals and insects. The white wording was also made even more powerful by the black background.
On the track: During this period, Mika Hakkinen won back-to-back drivers’ championships in the MP3-13 and MP4-14 thanks to eight race wins in 1998 and five race wins in 1999.
2002 – 2013
To mark our move to the high-tech surroundings of the McLaren Technology Centre, our marque was refined and updated with a more modern and stylish look. The speedmark with which people now associate McLaren, was retained.
On the track: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was born. The period is marked by the explosive arrival of Lewis Hamilton onto the F1 grid, who won the drivers’ championship in 2008 in only his second season.