“….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…”
Juan Manuel Fangio, 5-time World Drivers Champion
The BRM Type 15 ‘Chassis Number 1’ is arguably Britain’s most important Formula 1 car and truly deserves its Iconic Status.
The BRM Team and the P15 were both conceived as a Post-War response to the Pre-War dominance of the Germans, Italians and the French in Motor Racing. Emerging from a time of crisis and great austerity, the vision of Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon was backed by Sir Alfred Owen, Oliver Lucas and other leading industrialists of the time. The ambitious BRM project was conceived in a shed in rural Lincolnshire but very quickly carried the weight of expectation of the whole nation; not only as a focal point for British engineering excellence and prestige, but as a venture designed to lift the spirits of a Nation.
The V16 is remembered and revered for the sheer scale of mechanical complexity and the breath-taking ambition that it represented. When other manufacturers were using pre-war technology in simple agricultural engines, BRM and Raymond Mays were busy innovating. In the words of Sir Jackie Stewart, “Without the example created by BRM, and followed up with other early British motorsport pioneers, the British motorsport industry would not be what it is today.” The BRM Type P15 ‘Chassis Number 1’ is the car that started it all.
16 Cylinders, 1.5 litres, 600 bhp is a phenomental set of figures even today – let alone in 1950 – but the Type 15 also featured many other innovations that were pioneering and ahead of their time in many ways; disc brakes, Rolls Royce 2 stage centrifugal supercharger (scaled version of the supercharger used in the Spitfire Merlin engine), Air / Hydraulic Spings based on aircraft landing gear to name but a few, just some of the incredible 30,000+ individual parts that make up the whole car.
Designer: Peter Berthon
Displacement 1487.76 cc (90.8 cu in)
Power 600 bhp (447.42kW)
Dry sump 50 to 70 lbf/in2
135 degree V16 alloy cylinder block and crankcase. Cast iron wet liners.
Bore 1.95 in (49.53 mm)
Stroke 1.90 in (48.26 mm)
Fuel system Rolls-Royce two-stage centrifugal supercharger with two 3 in (76 mm). SU carburettors. 82.6 psi (5.7 bar) maximum boost.
Fuel Petrol/alcohol fuel
Despite failing in it’s first outing when still in development, when on song, such as with Fangio at Albi in 1953, nothing could live with it. Fangio’s V16 had 72 psi boost (4.9 ata) and 585 bhp (436 kW) @ 11,800 rpm, and incredibly, he reached over 190 mph (306 km/h).
Fangio tore away from the field, leaving Ascari and his Ferrari trailing in the distance and as quoted in the press at the time, he “pulverised” the track’s lap record. Even now people will travel over seas and oceans to hear that engine noise……….70 years on, its still the best sound ever made by a motor car.