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The Marsh Models McLaren M1A

1/43 scale

by  Peter Radcliffe


Fans of 1:43rd scale have a large selection of very fine kits of Can Am models. Those produced by Marsh are perhaps the finest but excellent kits are also available from ESDO, Kaiser, Illustra and Provence Moulage.

The car history

The McLaren M1A was the first car constructed by Bruce McLaren's fledgling company. He was still driving for John Cooper in Formula One but he had already foreseen the financial returns that a successful sportscar would bring in the USA. Whilst waiting for the M1A to be completed he bought Roger Penske's Cooper Zerex which had been fitted with a lightweight 

Oldsmobile V8. This power plant would be used in his M1A and the first M1B.He would quickly realise that cubic inches counted and switch to Chevrolet V8 engines for the M1B (also available from MARSH Models) and all later Works Mclaren Sportscars.

The model here depicts the car that raced at Riverside in 1964. Bruce won the 20 lap qualifying race and was leading the main race by 9 seconds when a waterhose came loose and caused him to retire. The car is black with a central silver stripe, as Bruce had still not decided on a colour for his cars. The car I saw raced in UK was red with twin pale stripes, the M1B would be red and the first F1 White with a green central stripe. The M4 F2/interim F1 and the M5 F1 would be red and the sudden appearance of the Orange M6 came as something of a shock. It was only after Bruce's death and the advent of major sponsors that the familiar orange changed but even today as a mark of respect recent F1 test cars have been orange at the start of the season.


This is perhaps one of the nicest Marsh Models of recent months. There is much of interest on the car that transforms into an interesting model. Areas of the space frame chassis can be seen on the side pods and under the spare wheel which those early "Can Am" cars had to carry, the Oil cooler and coil on the left of the cockpit. The dashboard has lovely sharp decals for the instruments and the back of the instrument gauges can be seen. The carburettor bodies are particularly nice castings topped with turned intakes. Where ever you look there are nice touches, the exhaust system visible through the rear deck, the radiator through the bonnet top and the tyre tread and inside of the spokes of the spare wheel. The decals are superb right down to the badge designed by artist Michael Turner. A reminder of the times is the lack of seatbelts.

The Kit   

The main body is a one-piece resin casting, which is almost without flash, and mine had no blowholes at all along the base. The panel lines are clean but perhaps a little heavy for my taste but they look excellent on the finished model, which has had a two-pack type paint and lacquer finish.

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The kit had two sets of decals as the small section of silver stripe on the cockpit bulkhead has been omitted. Only TAMEO to my knowledge includes two sets of decals. With some of the very small decals and also some of the complicated curves it is a great comfort to have a second set to fall back on. I wish all manufacturers would follow this practice and also include two vac-forms.


The decals are printed by Zanchetti in Italy and are of the highest quality.

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The Photoetch parts come on two frets. The larger has the now familiar March fold up Chassis tub etc. and the smaller fret the details of the visible spaceframe chassis. The plaques indicate the other models to join this first Marsh kit.


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The rest of the parts come in a single rolled up taped open-ended bag. This is not secure as small parts can easily work their way out in the shake up of posting. It is also very difficult to check that all the parts are present without opening the pack. I always check the parts on arrival and put them in several self seal bags.


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Marsh is one of the few manufacturers who do not use rubber tyres. The tyres are resin cast with a good profile and tread pattern. Painted matt black they look superb and of course never split or decay. The photos show a selection of the cast and turned metal parts. These parts will need very little cleaning before assembly and painting.


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Finished model

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