BRM F1 recreation project takes step forward as original engine runs

The bold plan to build three examples of the V16-engined BRM P15 grand prix car has taken a step forward, after an original engine has successfully run on a dyno.

BRM F1 recreation project takes step forward as original engine runs

The 1950s-specification BRMs are being built for British Racing Motors by renowned race car engineers Hall and Hall and the Bourne-based company used the original ‘engine number two’ to help meet the technical challenges presented by one of the most complex Formula 1 engines of its era, each with more than 36,000 components.

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Hall and Hall founder and former BRM engineer Rick Hall said: “It is a phenomenally complex engine, and there are a great deal of highly engineered parts to get right.

"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 new power units which will be at the heart of the project.

“There is little margin for error with these parts, right down to 1000th 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.”

Reg Parnell BRM P15 1951 British GP

Reg Parnell BRM P15 1951 British GP

Photo by: Motorsport Images

The rebuilt engine itself was run on Hall and Hall’s dyno at RAF Folkingham in Lincolnshire, where the original BRM F1 engineering team worked during the 1950s.

The engine has not been run since original BRM driver Jose-Froilan Gonzalez, then 77-years-old, accidentally over-revved it during BRM’s 50th anniversary celebration at Silverstone in 1999. It was comprehensively damaged and had remained in storage for 20 years.

“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 10,000rpm and 2.5 psi – which is a huge step forward as we continue to build our experience and understanding of this astonishing engine.”

The build of three P15 V16 BRMs was prompted by the discovery of three unused chassis numbers, which were originally allocated to the racing programme but never built due to a change in the F1 technical regulations.

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Series Historics
Author Paul Lawrence
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