BRM P25 1958

Chassis No. 258
Engine No. 2583

The BRM number 258 made its first race appearance in the French Grand Prix at Reims in July 1958 where Harry Schell drove it to record third fastest practice time, behind two Ferraris. Although he led away from the start he was soon overtaken and after battling for 4th place he had to retire with fuel-pump failure. In the British Grand Prix which followed Schell faired better and finished 5th, but he followed this with a retirement in the Caen Grand Pod. At the Nürburgring for the German Grand Prix 258 was the T-car and at Monza for the Italian GP Jo Bonnier drove it but retired with transmission trouble. The last race of the 1958 season was the Moroccan Grand Prix at Casablanca and here Bonnier finished 4th in 258.

For the first part of the 1959 season it was not used and re-appeared for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, using the later type of engine, number 2594. In practice Bonnier took pole-position and at all times the BRM was pretty competitive, but the driving of Stirling Moss in a Cooper-Climax was more than the Bourne team could cope with. When the Cooper retired with gearbox trouble it was Jo Bonnier who swept into the lead and he won the race in fine style. The fact that the BRM had run faultlessly throughout the race was a source of wonderment to those of us following Grand Prix racing at that time, for we had become very used to mediocre performances and retirements. At the following race the P25 was back to form when Bonnier retired 258 with a leaking head-joint and in the British GP he marked up another retirement, this time with broken throttle linkage. The German GP was run on the banked AVUS track in Berlin, in the form of two heats and Bonnier was 5th on aggregate times.

In the Portuguese Grand Prix at Lisbon Ron Flockhart took over 258 and can steadily to finish 7th, though he had a minor accident in practice, without serious damage. The 1959 season ended with the Italian Grand Prix at Monza and Bonnier returned to the cockpit of 258. In practice it used engine number 2583 but engine 2593 was installed for the race, and Bonnier finished 8th. In the winter of 1959/60 it was noted that engine number 2583 was complete and ready to use and in store. By 1960 the P48 cars were under way, for the rear-engined revolution had begun, but 258 was taken to the early season races in South America. Bonnier was going well in the Argentine GP at Buenos Aires when a valve spring broke and he limped home 7th, and in the City of Buenos Aires GP held at Cordoba, Dan Gurney drove 258 into a rousing 2nd place. Back in England the day of the front-engined car was over and 258 made its last appearance at the Easter Monday meeting at Goodwood, running in the “International 100” event driven yet again by Joakim Bonnier. The Swede was totally outclassed by the new breed of rear-engined cars, including the P48 BRMs and he finished 6th. It was after this that 258 so very nearly got the chop. After being saved it was kept at Bourne and maintained purely for show purposes.

When the Bourne factory was cleared out preparatory to the auction sale, 258 was overhauled by the remaining team of mechanics. The engine was found to be rather tired so another one was sought, and found in a P48 rear-engined car they had on the books. It was lifted out and put into 258 and oddly enough turned out to be 2583, which had been in the car for practice at Monza in 1959.

Victor Norman, the new owner, entered 258 for the Historic event preceding the recent Monaco Grand Prix, and drove it for the first time when he left the Historic paddock to drive round to the pits for first practice. He found the car a delight to drive, in an historic or “old car” context and on the second day of practice was beginning to get the feel of it, but unfortunately the gearbox broke, which meant he had to be a spectator for the race, as he had no spares with the car. There is plenty of time for him, for the nice thing about Historic racing cars is that time does not make them obsolete, so it is not a disaster to miss an event.

David Owen is so pleased to know that 258 is going to be raced in Historic events that he has agreed to enter the car as an official entry from Rubery Owen. An historic BRM and the only real P25 in the world. — D.S.J.

Footnote: My thanks to Victor Norman for his co-operation and to Doug Nye for information gleaned from the BRM archives which he is incorporating in his forthcoming book on the complete history of BRM. — D.S.J.