Once upon a time, there was no Mercedes, McLaren, or Red Bull dominating the top of the Formula 1 leader boards. The honour went to the old and famed British Racing Motors. Or, as they’re more popularly remembered as BRM. They dominated the pack during the early pre-war 1950s Grand Prix. BRM cruised along to win 17 races and earned the Constructors title in 1962 with Graham Hill.
Since then, they’ve sponsored other legendary drivers, with the likes of Mike Hawthorn, Niki Lauda, Clay Regazzoni, Jackie Stewart, and John Surtees behind the wheels of BRMs. If there’s just one word that could summarise quite handily why BRM were winning so much back in the day, that would be ‘innovation’. In particular, they were leading the pack with their powertrain designs.
Sixteen Glorious Cylinders
Among all the weird ideas they’ve pioneered, the BRM P15 Grand Prix car would surely take the cake as the oddest of the lot. Among their first race cars of the 1950s, the P15 unfortunately never got to see any racing. The competition rules changed, and the cars were shelved. Now, and in celebration of BRM’s would-be 70th anniversary, the P15’s blueprints were dug up once more.
Why, you might ask? Well, why not? Especially with a truly magnificent 1.5-litre V16 – yes, sixteen cylinders – supercharged engine that could rev all the way up to 12,000RPM. 600hp is just about okay with today’s performance cars. But in one that weighs practically nothing, it’ll be a riot to drive. The reborn P15 will be built from 36,000 precisely engineered parts and takes 24 months to build.
As only three spare chassis numbers of the original P15 were found, only three will be built. Alas, only one remains to not have been spoken for. Put together by BRM specialists, Hall and Hall, the first P15 will go to John Owen, who is the son of former BRM’s original team principal, Sir Alfred Owen. The second is reserved for Richard Mille, whose car collection is just as prominent as his watches.