Brabham back in business
World Exclusive: One of the most famous names in motor sport history has made a sensational return - and the track-focused BT62 is just the start. A racing comeback is in the pipeline.
Qualified 25th, finished 11th – four laps down. On its own it’s an unremarkable statistic, typical of Formula 1 in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when there were rather more cars than there were spaces on the grid and several entries were fuelled by little more than optimism and deeply crimson balance sheets.
But this result had a particular resonance. When Damon Hill took the chequered flag in the 1992 Hungarian Grand Prix, it marked the end of the road for Brabham.
Twice a champion constructor, and four times a winner of the world Formula 1 title for drivers, the famous marque had reached the end of the road, toppled by a shortage of funding in the slipstream of several ownership changes. There was an attempt to revive the team for 1993, but when that collapsed all hope seemed gone.
It was in 2006 that David BRABHAM, youngest son of marque co-founder Jack, began working on a plan to restore his father’s legacy to its rightful domain: the racetrack. Trouble was, there were other parties that claimed they by now owned the name. David finally established his legitimate right to use of the family trademark in 2014 – and Brabham Automotive has beenevolving in the background ever since.
Its first significant fruit is what you see here, the mid-engined BT62 (a coincidental doff of the cap to the year of the original company’s launch – the last F1 Brabham built was the BT60B).
Already extensively tested in Australia, the BT62 is a track-day hypercar that is striking in both looks and specification: 700bhp from Brabham’s own 5.4-litre V8, 492lb ft of torque, more than 2645lb (1200kg) of downforce and, thanks to extensive use of carbon, a dry weight of just 2142lb (972kg). In simple terms, that’s about 720bhp per tonne.
In honour of Jack Brabham’s first race, 70 years ago at Paramatta Park Speedway, production is being limited to a run of 70 cars and buyers will be enrolled into a driver development programme, for coaching that will help them extract the most from their acquisition. The first 35 cars will sport commemorative liveries celebrating each of themarque’s F1 race victories.
“Our first step is the BT62, a car truly worthy of carrying the iconic Brabham name”
The car was unveiled on May 2 at Australia House, London, home to the Australian High Commission, where a number of successful Brabhams had been gathered alongside much bygone marque memorabilia.
Speaking during the event, Brabham, who did much of the development testing, said: “It’s with great pride that I honour and continue my father’s legacy in revealing the next chapter in the evolving Brabham story. The team we have in place, and the vision it shares, provides a solid platform for Brabham Automotive to execute its long-term business strategy. Our first step is the BT62, a car truly worthy of carrying the iconic Brabham name.”
Paul Birch, director of technology & engineering added: “Created from a blank sheet of paper, our first car takes Brabham into an exciting new era, while honouring and upholding the marque’s glorious past. Using contemporary materials, processes and technologies, and following a rigorous two-year engineering and development programme, the resulting BT62 is a car that demands total engagement and commitment.”
The car will cost £1m and orders are being taken now for delivery later this year.
“My father had an incredible determination to succeed, and like him I’ve worked tirelessly”
The BT62 marks the first phase of a product development programme that Brabham hopes will lead to an eventual racing return. With his father and designer Ron Tauranac as its driving forces, the original company was not just a Formula 1 front-runner but became one of the world’s foremost constructors of customer racing cars. Brabham Automotive has yet to divulge any concrete plans, but admits it has an eye on the Le Mans 24 Hours – a race David and older brother Geoff have both won, in 2009 and 1993 respectively.
“I set out 12 years ago to re-establish the iconic Brabham name, determined to see it return to global competition,” David said. “My father had an incredible determination to succeed and, like him, I’ve worked tirelessly through this time, drawing on my experience and never once losing sight of that goal.
“It has been challenging at times, but what we have achieved is simply staggering. Today’s unveiling makes me feel incredibly proud as the Brabham legacy enters a new era.”
For more information, visit www.brabhamautomotive.com