Britain's First-Ever F1 Car Found After 70 Years

Formula One / Comments

You'll never guess where British Racing Motors found it.

British Racing Motors has been doing a lot to promote the history of Formula 1 racing, which is superb given the massive resurgence of interest in the sport. Recently, it found the body buck (specialized tooling) for the Mark 1 P15 V16, which was Britain's very first F1 car.

To properly understand just how magnificent the first F1 cars were, we need to take a quick look at the modern 2022 vehicles. Over the last week, Red Bull and Aston Martin, along with Williams, unveiled their respective cars with the new 2022 aerodynamic regulations. These teams spend countless hours in wind tunnels, finding that perfect balance between gliding through the air while having enough downforce to keep the tires on the ground.

In 1950, the engineers simply assumed a cigar-shaped car was the best possible design. The aerodynamic engineer probably went to the pub, played a round of darts, and figured it was as good a shape as any to try out.

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The buck was hand-crafted in 1949 in preparation for the first-ever F1 season in 1950. It was widely believed this new form of open-wheel racing would become the highest form of motorsport across the globe, which turned out to be true. The man behind the design and engine of the Mark 1 P15 V16 was Peter Berthon.

BRM unveiled these cars on December 15, 1949, at the Goodwood International Race Meet. Six were built and these machines were highly competitive, but only in the first race. BRM won the first two races but struggled to get back on top. The V16 engine was unreliable, and BRM tried to fix the body with the little aerodynamic knowledge it had.

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Peter Berthon did not build the body buck himself. As the lead engineer for the car and the engine, he was a busy man. So he handed the task over to George Gray, who built the vehicle's body buck. After BRM evolved the cars, the original body buck was lost to time.

Last year BRM tracked down three of the original V16 engines. These engines are absolute monsters resulting from the first F1 regulations.

They are 1.5-liter supercharged V16 units that produce 591 horsepower at 12,000 rpm. The power was sent to the rear wheels via a BRM-built five-speed manual transmission. These engines were highly complex, and we're not surprised BRM had reliability problems.

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When BRM tracked down three original engines, it decided to build three continuation cars. The first car went to the son of BRM's original owner, Sir Alfred Owen. John Owen unveiled his superb vehicle at the 2021 Goodwood Revival.

The second car went to the famous watchmaker, Richard Mille.

That left only one engine and one final opportunity for BRM to go out with a bang. Unlike the other cars, BRM wanted to use the body of Britain's first F1 car. Britain is still considered the capital of the sport, as most of the teams are located on the tiny, wet island.

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It turns out the man who built the body buck knew it was of no use after the team started making modifications. So he took the jig to his houseboat, and that's where BRM found it 70 years later.

"With the discovery of the original body buck, we now have the opportunity to produce a car to the original shape and specification of Britain's very first Formula 1 car," said Paul Owen, grandson of Sir Alfred Owen. "This car has not been seen in this form for over 70 years, and it is a privilege for the Owen family to be in a position to bring it to life once again."

Rick Hall, the former BRM F1 team engineer who will oversee the construction of this 'new' BRMV16, said, "it is extremely satisfying to have finally tracked down the original Type 15 jig, which will enable us to craft the car in the form that it was presented to the world in 1949."

We can't wait to see the final product, likely costing millions of dollars.

So, what do you think? One of these, or a Bugatti Chiron paired with a Pagani Huayra?

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