This car is the most famous product of British Racing Motors Ltd. Nicknamed ‘Old Faithful’, it brought Graham Hill the 1962 Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship and BRM the 1962 F1 Constructors’ World Championship.
‘Old Faithful’ is one of the highest-mileage race cars in Grand Prix history, having competed for both works and Scuderia Centro Sud in 1963, for veteran driver Maurice Trintignant in 1964 and for Centro Sud again in 1965. It totalled more than 20,000 miles.
Even before World War Two ended, pre-war British racing celebrity Raymond Mays launched his all-British Grand Prix programme. It was to be funded by a motor-industry cooperative named the British Motor Racing Research Trust, focused on building the British Racing Motor, or BRM. Although intended to emulate Hitler’s Grand Prix racing strategy by generating national prestige, this sensationally specified 1.5-litre, centrifugally supercharged V16 flopped miserably.
In 1952, the Trust sold out to loyal backer, Alfred Owen of the Owen Organisation, British industry’s largest privately owned company. British Racing Motors Ltd was then formed to develop new, and notably improved, BRM cars.
When the new 1.5-litre Formula 1 began in 1961, BRM raced Climax-powered spaceframe chassis P57s, while this smaller P578 was being readied for the first P56 V8 engine. Timed around that September’s Italian GP, testing commenced with Graham Hill behind the wheel at Monza, logging some 280 miles there.
In 1962, Hill won his heat in chassis 5781’s race debut at the Brussels GP in Belgium. He placed second at Snetterton; then, at Goodwood on Easter Monday, he scored his maiden F1 victory. He led the Aintree 100, then at Silverstone he beat Jim Clark’s new Lotus Climax V8 by inches.
The subsequent World Championship Dutch GP provided Graham’s maiden championship points win. As the 1962 season wore on, he led the Monaco, Belgian and French GPs in this same car, placed second at Reims and won the German GP at the Nürburgring. Another second at Oulton Park preceded Monza’s championship-round Italian GP, where the car and Graham Hill won yet again with less than a pint of fuel remaining. Graham and 5781 then placed second in the United States GP at Watkins Glen, positioning Hill to wrap up the championship in South Africa in a sister car.
‘Old Faithful’ indeed…
This car is part of the Miles Collier Collection at the Revs Institute