Nichols Cars N1A: reborn McLaren Can-Am car revealed | CAR Magazine

Nichols Cars N1A: reborn McLaren Can-Am car revealed

Published: 26 July 2023 Updated: 26 July 2023

► A modern-day Can-Am car you can buy
► Powered by a heavily-modified GM LS3 V8
► Just 15 of initial launch run to be made

It’s the return of Can-Am! Nichols Cars, founded by McLaren motorsport engineer Steve Nichols, has revealed the N1A – a truly analogue sports car creation that’s heavily inspired by the McLaren M1A Can-Am monster.

The N1A project has been the result of Nichols, CEO John Minett as well as engineers and designers drawing serious inspiration from McLaren’s Can-Am supercar, as well as the McLaren MP4/4 Formula One car. Nichols Cars is promising an initial production run of 15 cars, meaning those with fat wallets will be able to own one for real.

The sculpted carbonfibre bodywork is the result of a by-eye recreation of the M1A Can-Am car, which was then modified and streamlined for aerodynamic purity using the wind tunnel at the MIRA automotive test facility in the UK. Each car is then painted at the facility where the McLaren Automotive heritage cars are maintained.

The chassis is a blend of aluminium and carbonfibre, and each N1A is suspended with double wishbones front and rear.

After you’ve climbed in to the N1A, you’re greeted by little else than the essential controls required to drive. Nichols Cars says the interior is ‘intentionally minimalistic,’ with all of the main controls machined from solid aluminium. Each car’s driving position, including seat placement and pedal positioning, is bespoke to each client.

Beneath the carbonfibre and machined aluminium beats a 7.0-litre LS3 V8 from GM. But, because no ordinary V8 lump would do, the LS3 engine used here is hand-crafted and includes new steel liners, custom pistons and conrods and specially-developed dry sump system. So much so that power from the V8 reaches 650bhp; couple that with a total weight of just 900kg and the N1A has a power-to-weight ratio of almost 700bhp per tonne.

Nichols Cars says you can have your N1A with a manual transmission from Dana Graziano (formerly Graziano Trasmissioni, which has supplied the likes of Lamborghini’s Aventador, McLaren’s 650S and Aston Martin Victor with gearboxes, among others), or a paddle-shift automatic. Every N1A features 19/20-inch front/rear wheels shod in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.

Steve Nichols (pictured above) says that he wants the N1A ‘to be a leader in promoting the idea of lightweight, powerful and fun-to-drive sports cars that you can use for all activities. I’m excited to see where the N1A will take its drivers, whether it’s on the track or to the pub!’

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches