Brabham BT35-8

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Hero of a dramatic victory against the greats

Straightforward, forgiving and successful – three words that sum up Ron Tauranac’s chassis designs in his Brabham era. That’s why the team, when not winning Grands Prix, sold so many customer cars in lower formulae; by 1970 the total constructed was 500 and rising. It was the Dallara of its time. Tauranac’s cars may not have been innovative, but they were robust, relatively light and forgiving at the limit and throughout the 1960s they garnered excellent results in F2 and F3.

That’s why when Ed Reeves wanted to contest Formula Atlantic in 1971, he ordered this BT35 from Brabham.

Following on from the successful BT30, the 35 retained a tube frame (which along with the sister BT36 F2 design was the last before Brabham switched to stressed-skin principles), conventional suspension and a front radiator. Available in three strains for Atlantic, Formula B or F3, it appeared at a time of great change, when growing wings and widening tyres were pushing up lap speeds, and its high-mounted nose wings and single-plane rear wing made good use of the new science.

Reeve’s car was fitted with a 1600 Cosworth BDA and he had a decent season before choosing to put promising pedaller Dave Morgan in it for a couple of late-season events. The newcomer impressed with a fourth and a third and landed himself a seat for 1972.

Reeve ordered a new Brabham BT38 for the new 2-litre F2 series, but in the first round of the 1972 season Morgan used the 35, re-engined with an 1830cc Cosworth BDE. His impressive victory ahead of Niki Lauda, Carlos Reutemann and Jody Scheckter marked him out as a coming man.

Meanwhile the car went to Australia and raced in Australian F2 with a 1600 Ford twin-cam. Rescued from a spell of inactivity, it got a new life in historic racing down under with correct BDE power before returning to the UK where Simon Hadfield fully restored it to the form in which it scored that memorable victory in 1972. It’s now for sale at specialist dealer William I’Anson.

Historic F2 is buzzing right now, and as a prime example of a marque at its peak, a BT35 would make a very competitive entry in historic F2, whether the HSCC International or Peter Auto Euro series. But only one has headed Niki Lauda…

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