It is absolutely astonishing that this 1972 Ford Condor RV, dubbed The Magic Bus, is still in the condition it is. The gorgeously-presented green velour interior is proper 1970s nostalgia. The motor coach was painted in an orange papaya paint scheme with a hand-painted kiwi bird logo on the side as this was a hospitality vehicle for the head of McLaren Engines to use trackside for various Can Am, USAC, and F1 events. After a particularly rabid bidding war, current McLaren CEO Zak Brown purchased this delightful machine on Bring A Trailer just two months ago for $32,500. Now it’s trackside at Indy serving the orange team yet again.
In this short but very sweet video from Arrow McLaren SP, the team’s three drivers—Oliver Askew, Patricio O’ward, and Fernando Alonso—climb aboard the Magic Bus for a bit of a history lesson. It’s funny to see 39-year-old Fernando Alonso talking to his 21 and 23-year-old Indy 500 teammates about their heroes. Pato, for example, recounts growing up idolizing the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, and Vettel, while Fernando’s own heroes were Prost, Senna, and Schumacher.
Even after more than twenty years in the top level of the sport, F1 and Le Mans champ Alonso still has the enthusiasm and understanding of the history of the team he is currently working for. He knows the historical context, and knows the part he is playing in it. The young guns of the McLaren team are too young to see everything through his aged and wizened eyes, but perhaps one day they will.
But aside from the conversation between racers, it’s the RV that stands on center stage. This big yellow bastard has lived through and seen a whole lot more than all three of these young punks put together. A decade before Fernando was even born, the McLaren RV was trackside experiencing history as it happened, and has barely a single scar to show for it.
Good on Zak Brown for bringing a piece of McLaren history in the U.S. back to its birthplace.