British Racing Motors, most commonly known as BRM, are in the process of developing three ‘new’ 1950s P15 V16 Formula 1 cars to mark the seventieth anniversary of the team.
BRM were founded back in 1945 but raced in Formula 1 between 1951 and 1977, competing in one hundred and ninety-seven Grand Prix, winning seventeen of them.
They have been painstakingly restoring an original engine from the V16 power unit from the 1950s, which was one of the most complex and technically engines of its time. The supercharged 1.5-litre V16 was raced up until 1955 and produced 600 bhp at 12,000 rpm and consisted of over thirty-six thousand parts!
“It is a phenomenally complex engine, and there are a great deal of highly engineered parts to get right,” said Rick Hall, the founder of Hall and Hall, a technical partner of BRM. “Rebuilding and re-engineering many of the original parts has proved to be a key stepping-stone as we gear up for the manufacture of three all-new power units which will be at the heart of the new project.
“There is little margin for error with these parts, right down to 1,000th of a millimetre. For example, we had some earlier issues with the Rolls Royce supercharger, which we had to rebuild from scratch, so through trial and error we are flushing out these issues and also learning a great deal about how this engine behaves.”
The engine is the same one that was used by former BRM driver, the late Jose-Froilan Gonzalez, during BRM’s fiftieth anniversary celebration back in 1999, which the Argentine accidentally over-revved and caused considerable damage to. It has since been in storage before being repaired and tested at Hall and Hall’s dynamometer at RAF Folkingham in Lincolnshire.
“We didn’t want to push it too hard on the dyno,” said Martin Smith, Hall and Hall’s chief engine technician, “but even so we estimate we got about 550BHP at 10,000 RPM and 2.5 psi – which is a huge step forward as we continue to build our experience and understanding of this astonishing engine.”
The three P15 chassis are all unused chassis dated from the 1950s. They were being developed to race in Formula 1, but regulation changes dictated a change in philosophy, and these chassis did not see the racetrack.
The first car is set to be presented to the public later in the year having been commissioned by John Owen, the son of BRM’s original owner, Sir Alfred Owen.