Large and small, kit and built
The original Can-Am series for Group 7 sports cars is revered for its open rules and interesting cars. Unlimited horsepower and wild designs were a hallmark of the series. Despite the promise being better than the reality, large crowds of spectators flocked to almost every race. The Europeans spawned their own series (the Interseries) while Toyota and Nissan battled in a similar Japanese sports car series. Little wonder that model car collectors have scoffed up lots of Can-Am model cars through the years.
Even when the original American series ended and a new series debuted with single seat cars, the fans loved it. The cars were still fast and the designs were still interesting. The amount of top-notch teams and drivers that made their way through both versions of the Can-Am are legendary as well. McLaren, Porsche, Chaparral, Lola, Shadow, Ferrari and BRM. Not all were successful, but all had their fans.
From the original Can-Am
Tecnomodel brings us one of the early McLarens in 1/18th scale. The car at right is the McLaren M1A, this one driven by Bruce McLaren himself. Driven in the 1964 “Canadian Grand Prix” at Mosport Park, a Ferrari driven by Pedro Rodriguez would win that race. The McLaren would be developed for 1965 into the M1B, which was more effective and helped the McLaren team to develop car and team into a dominant force for several years more, winning a few Can-Am championships in the process. The Tecnomodel McLaren comes in several driver versions and is a resin model with no opening parts. Available from Mint Models, Replicarz or your favorite Tecnomodel dealer and some of those dealers may also still have some of the later M6B models as well.
The last Can-Am champion
The UOP Shadow Can-Am team was one of the biggest fan favorites, from their original kart-sized car to the final DN4 model. By 1974, the original Can-Am series was on its deathbed. The only team that had a new car, top drivers and plenty of cash was UOP Shadow. The team was colorful in presentation and fast on the track, having finally designed a fast and reliable car at the same time. The DN4 cars driven by Jackie Oliver and George Follmer were in a class of their own now that the Porsches were consigned to the Can-Am scrapheap, and Shadow dominated the series. The races were usually a straight fight between Oliver and Follmer and nobody else. It helped that Oliver and Follmer really didn’t like each other.
Replicarz presents this car in 1/18 scale versions for champion Oliver (#101) and teammate Follmer (#1). With resin construction, they feature a removable rear engine cover to reveal the Chevy engine, plumbed, wired and well detailed. The cockpit is sparse as was the case in the 70s. The dash has subtle and appreciated detail. That detail carries on throughout the model as well, though photoetch is used sparingly but well for racing harness buckles and side mirror mounts. The Shadows are available directly from Replicarz or your favorite model dealer.
Two-seaters are gone, single-seaters to the fore
The technical success of the F5000 formula car series that succeeded the original Can-Am as the premier SCCA road racing series was apparent. However, the fans stayed away for the most part. So to fix this, the SCCA devised a “new” Can-Am series for F5000 cars draped in sports car bodywork. Lola came out with a factory body kit for their dominant F5000 Lola T332, which most competitors utilized as the new series began.
One of the teams that went the other way was owned by Canadian Walter Wolf, who also had a winning Formula One car, driven by Jody Scheckter. Wolf commissioned Dallara of Italy to build him a car for original driver Chris Amon, who was replaced later on by Canadian Gilles Villeneuve. The car certainly looked different than the Lolas, what with its wing set back from the rear of the car on its mid-mounts.
The model of the car in 1/43 has been a sought-after kit made by Provence Moulage, long out of business. Fortunately, French model maker JPS has stepped up and gives us a pre-painted resin kit of the Dallara. One minor problem is that the model is painted black. The full-size race car was painted a dark blue with gold highlights, so the model must be stripped and repainted if you want to be fully accurate. The kit is available from our British friends at Grand Prix Models. Maybe they can supply an unpainted kit if it exists.
Just after originally publishing this article, Marsh Models announced two new kits of the Wolf-Dallara. All versions will be available factory-built as well. Expect great detail, quality and an easy building experience. You can read about that and the new Frisbee GR2 from Marsh right here.
Lola’s final Can-Am car
With the new Can-Am’s early success using converted F5000 cars, Lola came out with the dedicated T530 Can-Am car. A little ungainly looking but it turned out to be quite effective. One of the teams that adopted the T530 as their Can-Am weapon of choice was the Garvin Brown team. Their early car, the Intrepid, was a devilish performer and was replaced by the the T530 for American driver Danny Sullivan. The team and its travails were well documented in the 1981 book Fast Lane Summer, by Leon Mandel.
One Mann Factory, produces two 1/43 kits of the Lola T530 as raced by the Garvin Brown team. The 1980 car was black with red, white and blue (right) and also available is the blue 1981 car (top). Both are available as kits or factory built. You can see them at the One Mann Factory site or from Grand Prix Models.
Don’t stop there!
You can find even more model car reviews here.