From the archives: Brabham F1 cars

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The house that Jack built

Since Jack Brabham entered his first Brabham-Climax in the German Grand Prix in 1962, the Brabham team has been at the forefront of Formula One racing. The 1988 season will be the first in 25 years without a Brabham entry, Bernard Ecclestone having withdrawn the team “temporarily”.

Brabham himself made his mark on the international racing world when he won the Drivers World Championship in 1959 and 1960, driving Cooper-Climax cars. When the swarthy, down-to-earth Australian left Cooper in 1961 he had it in mind to start his own team, with cars designed by his friend and fellow-countryman Ron Tauranac.

His first cars were powered by 1½-litre Coventry-Climax V8 engines, as were many others at the time, but in 1966 he was quick off the mark for the new 3-litre formula with an Australian-built Repco V8 in Tauranac’s BT19 chassis. This model not only gave Brabham his first Grand Prix victory in a car bearing his own name, but also carried him to his third World Championship in 1966.

For 1969 he followed fashion and used Cosworth DFV engines in his F1 cars, and at the end of 1970 he retired from driving, left the team in the hands of his partner Tauranac, and returned to his homeland.

By the end of 1971 Tauranac had had enough of running Brabham by himself, and sold the team and its designs to Ecclestone. Logically, Ecclestone kept the name Brabham, and Gordon Murray took over responsibility for designing the cars.

Ecclestone negotiated the supply of engines and flitted from Cosworth to Alfa Romeo, back to Cosworth, and then to BMW when the turbocharged era got underway. Meanwhile Murray did a remarkable job of keeping pace with Ecclestone’s whims, and his Cosworth-powered BT49 and BMW-powered BT50 and BT53 were high-spots in Brabham history.

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