BRM's 12,000-RPM V16 F1 Car Roars Into Existence

Motorsport / Comments

The first ones have finally been built!

At this weekend's Goodwood Revival in England, a rebuilt BRM P15 race car will debut.

Unless you're 70 or older, the above sentence probably means nothing to you. So, a quick history lesson. British Racing Motors (BRM) was a big name in F1 between 1951 and 1977. The team eventually went bust following a series of disastrous cars in the 1970s.

The main reason for their fame, apart from one constructor's championship in 1962, thanks to Graham Hill, was its ambitious engine configurations in the earlier years.

When BRM first started competing in F1, engine sizes were limited to 1.5 liters for turbocharged engines and 4.5 liters for naturally-aspirated motors. BRM went for the smaller option, building a 1.5-liter supercharged V16 engine with the codename P15. It won two races for BRM but was eventually canned following severe reliability problems and new F1 regulations. BRM had three engines left over, and the last time one was started up (before 2021) was back in 1999 during Silverstone's 50th anniversary.

Now, one of the remaining three has been fired up again... in a revival of the iconic F1 race car.

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BRM is celebrating its 70th anniversary at the Goodwood Revival this weekend, even though it doesn't exist anymore. As part of the celebrations, the son of the original BRM team principal will partake in a special track parade in a fully restored P15. To celebrate the occasion, a short film has been released named The Chrysalis.

John Owen is now 82, and he was ten years old when he first heard the V16 fire up under the watchful eyes of his father, Sir Alfred Owen. The engine is capable of revving to 12,000 rpm at which point it's delivering 591 hp.

This isn't some poorly reconstructed F1 car, either. BRM's former team engineer, Rick Hall, was in charge of the reconstruction process. Hall himself started Hall and Hall engineering with his son Rob, so there's a strong family vibe related to this project. At least as far as the first car is concerned.

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It was delivered to Owen a few weeks earlier. "Hearing that V16 engine again after so many years was an incredible moment and a dream come true," says Owen. "It's a tribute to the tremendous skill, persistence, and attention to detail of the engineering team at Hall and Hall, and I really can't wait to unveil the car at the Goodwood Revival."

Earlier on, we mentioned that three engines were built, which means two are remaining. "With the first of the three new Mk1 V16 now complete, we will turn our attention to the two remaining chassis numbers," he added. "With all the technical hurdles now safely overcome, we are supremely confident we can create a truly magnificent, brand new, historically authentic yet entirely raceable 1950s Formula 1 car".

We can only imagine how glorious the P15 must be to drive. There's nothing quite like it in existence unless you count the Bugatti Chiron and its quad-turbocharged W16 engine. The closest modern rival we can think of is Gordon Murray's T.50. It has a naturally aspirated V12 engine, also capable of revving to 12,000 rpm.

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