Arguably one of the most important Formula 1 cars of the last 70 years, the illustrious BRM P15 V16 will be reincarnated as an authentic trio of ‘new’ P15 V16 race cars are produced at Hall and Hall in Bourne, Lincolnshire, which for the purist is just a stone’s throw from where the originals were first engineered. The three cars will be launched next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the illustrious British Racing Motors team.
British Racing Motors (BRM) was Britain’s original Formula 1 team and will celebrate its 70th anniversary with the construction of three wonderful ‘new’ 16-cylinder race cars – the iconic and awe-inspiring BRM P15 V16, which is highly regarded by many experts and enthusiasts as the finest sounding racing car in the history of the sport.
Delivery of the first car is expected next year and will go to the Owen family; fulfilling a long-held ambition of one of the family’s oldest surviving members – to see and hear this iconic British racing car in action once again.
Octogenarian, John Owen was only ten years old when he first witnessed the deafening howl of the V16 engine, which developed 600 horsepower thanks to its ability to spin at an incredible 12,000rpm – far beyond the range of many road and race cars 60 years later.
He was also deeply influenced by its mission – it was a car built by Britain’s finest engineers for an expectant nation, to take on the might of the post-war Italian and German teams. Being raced around the Grand Prix circuits of Europe by legendary drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio and Jose Froilan Gonzalez only added to the attraction.
John’s father was BRM’s team principal, Sir Alfred Owen, a leading industrialist and founding member of the consortium charged with building a world-class race car and bringing championship glory to the nation – a vision that was ultimately fulfilled in 1962.
Today, the only surviving V16 MK 1 in existence is destined to remain a cherished museum piece, as is deemed far too valuable to race. With no other operational cars of this type in existence, it seemed that John Owen’s dream would never be fulfilled.
I consider it to be, basically, the best Formula One car ever made – no car has given me such a thrill to drive, or a greater sense of absolute mastery.
Now, in a unique partnership, historic automotive restoration specialists, Hall and Hall, will use up to 20,000 original drawings to re-manufacture new, forensically authentic, examples of the BRM P15 V16 MK1 machine, piece by historic piece. Founder, Rick Hall, is emotionally and professionally bound to BRM, having actually been part of their original Formula 1 team in the early ‘70s, and together with his son, Rob, has since been providing authentic parts and technical support for the few cherished BRM machines still in private hands.
I have been passionate about BRM since I joined the team at the end of ’72. I have spent the last 50 years or so working with these remarkable pieces of British and Formula 1 engineering history and am delighted to be teaming up with the Owen family and BRM to be their official historic racing partner – I only wish I was 20 years younger!
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The project has gathered momentum in recent years, when three of Sir Alfred Owen’s grandsons, Simon, Paul and Nick, first began discussing how BRM should be revived and preserved for future generations. The discovery of several chassis numbers which had been allocated by the BRM team in 1950, but never built due to a change in Formula 1 technical regulations, presented a unique opportunity to realise John’s dream.
Watching the likes of the Pampas Bull (Gonzalez) and, in particular, Fangio, master the power of the V16 was very special and the fabulous noise of the engine still rings in my ears 70 years on!
In a selfish way, I have always dreamed of hearing that sound again but now I’d also love to share that sensation with others. To hear the V16 screaming at full tilt for the first time is something special – something you never forget.
With the full support of the Rubery Owen Board, the project took shape. The cars will be constructed to FIA standards, and therefore will be fully eligible for historic racing. Thus, taking the first and most important step in the preservation and growth of the BRM marque – the ability for future generations worldwide to see, and above all, hear, the mighty V16 for years to come.
Key in preserving the future authenticity of the BRM marque is its astonishingly complete collection of original documents, letters, cuttings and, most importantly, technical drawings that remain under BRM ownership. Described by one of the world’s most eminent racing historians, Doug Nye, as “probably the finest archive in British motorsport”, the BRM archive has been painstakingly digitized and documented by Nick Owen, who immediately identified this as a priceless asset.
Without the 20,000 or so original technical drawings, we could not have contemplated such an ambitious project but incredibly, that is just the starting point, as these archives tell the story of staggering British innovation and engineering skill. It is hard to imagine just how complex a 16-cylinder engine is but what is clear is that the same care, attention and design detail went into every element of every BRM. It was an undeniably British effort – the like of which we may never see again. Perhaps only now are we beginning to appreciate that this archive has a relevance that goes well beyond the drawings and the cars. This is a story about how BRM and a few men in sheds, influenced Formula 1 and the wider motor industry.
On-track demonstrations are being scheduled to celebrate the 70th anniversary of BRM in 2021 with two sanctioned chassis being available on application.