For those of you not fully up to speed with 1980s Formula 1 history, you may not be overly familiar with ‘TAG’ – Techniques d’Avant Garde – given the unstoppable juggernaut that was McLaren-Honda during this decade.
Founded in 1977 by Akram Ojjeh and still run to this day by his son, Mansour, the Luxembourg-based aviation and Swiss watch specialist were already a sponsor of soon-to-be Formula 1 champions Williams from 1980 to 1982 before collectively thinking, ‘sure, why not give the engine side of things a go, too.’
The result was a twin-turbocharged V6, commissioned by TAG and built by Porsche specifically for former champions McLaren, whose dip in performance, thanks largely to an obstinate use of natural aspiration, left long-time sponsors Marlboro with itchy trigger fingers.
A part-season in 1983 was a bust thanks to poor reliability from the still-new V6, but from 1984 to 1985, the TAG(-Porsche)-engined McLaren MP4/2 secured both the Constructor’s and Drivers’ championships, and, if you include the ’86 and ’87 seasons, won 25 of the 68 races contested and took a further 29 podiums. Turbocharged nous now comfortably under its belt, McLaren signed a new deal with Honda for 1988, and history was about to be made, TAG walking away from the engine side of F1, not to be seen again until the ‘TAG’-badged Red Bull Racing Renaults took to the grid in 2016.
Now, if you’re still with me, TAG would later commission a Porsche 930 test mule with an F1-engine transplant, a non-too-subtle metaphor for ‘check out the size of this.’ It’s as mental a prospect as you’d expect, and all the more exciting given recent news that Lanzante, the British tuners of P1 LM and ’95 Le Mans fame, is set to build 11 further examples of this automotive Frankenstein in the coming months.
Alongside the 930’s flared wheel arches, ducktail spoiler and RUF alloys, each example will boast a legitimate 1.5-litre twin-turbo F1 V6. In their era, these were capable of 750 hp in race trim, and, potentially, upwards of 1000-hp if trivialities like reliability were ignored completely.
Official delivery dates and the presumably obscene list prices have yet to be detailed, although Lanzante has confirmed this project will be conducted “with permission from McLaren Racing [sic].” Teaser shots through Lanzante’s official instagram page suggest each model will receive the customary ‘TAG’ logos on the speedometer and across the headrests, plus a plaque celebrating each specific engine’s competitive history.
The example on show at Laguna Seca, for instance, during Porsche’s annual Rennsport Reunion, featured engine #034, which powered erstwhile champion Niki Lauda to victory at the 1984 British Grand Prix.
For those of you still reading, a TAG-engined McLaren last took victory at the 1987 Portuguese Grand Prix with reigning champion Alain Prost at the wheel. Expect a decent tussle for ownership of that one.