Australia lays claim to NZ's famous motoring McLaren family

The famous McLaren name has been hiding a family secret. 

The name, logo and legacy from down under still dominates the motor racing world, but it was a 100th birthday and a letter from Queen Elizabeth II that uncovered the name McLaren never really existed.  

Two years after founder Bruce McLaren died while test-driving a car in England, his great grandfather was about to turn 100. His family went searching for the birth certificate but couldn't find one.  

After a few years of searching, the family finally found what they were looking for, but it was a birth certificate for someone by the name of Ben Howie.  

"Took us a lot of years to unravel that Ben was not Ben McLaren," Jan McLaren said. 

Ben had changed his name to hide a love affair.  

Originally from South Australia, he moved to New Zealand and married a publican's daughter. He left her at home and returned to McLaren Vale South Australia.  

That's where he met married mother-of-three Frances Moyle - and fell in love.

"A crazy love story that is almost unbelievable and definitely would make a good romance novel," Jan told Newshub.

The couple moved to New Zealand to start a new life, with a new name they'd taken from Adelaide's famous wine country.  

"One of those mad passionate love stories of the heart and the head doing things they shouldn't have, but love doesn't take any note of those sorts of things," Jan said.

The rest, as they say, is history.  

The McLaren name now connects one of the most famous Kiwis to wine country in South Australia.