The 1996 Jordan 196 – the very Formula 1 car Brundle hopped into after his Melbourne barrel roll – could be yours
Images courtesy of RM Sotheby’s // Scott Pattenden
To those of a more recent generation Martin Brundle may be most commonly known as a celebrated Formula 1 TV commentator and analyst. Those a little older though may recall that he was also one of the foremost international race drivers of his day, including at Formula 1’s top table. Some have quipped that his 12 seasons therein were mere preparation for his second career…
Updated: RM Sotheby’s estimates that the car could fetch €170,000-€190,000
And one of the cars that Brundle drove in his swansong season, a highly striking gold-liveried 1996 Jordan complete with a growling V10 Peugeot engine, can be yours as it is to go under the hammer at RM Sotheby’s Paris sale early next month.
Perhaps Brundle’s status reflects also that his driving talent did not begin to get its due in F1 results. The man who went toe-to-toe with Ayrton Senna for the British Formula 3 crown in 1983 – a year where Brundle also drove for Eddie Jordan – was, by consensus, highly unfortunate to not even take a race win from his 158-race top-level career.
Aside from in 1992 at Benetton – when he ran team-mate Michael Schumacher much closer than a succession of subsequent stable-mates to the legendary German managed – Brundle almost never got access to race-winning F1 cars.
More: Lunch with… Martin Brundle
He did have the partial compensation of a Le Mans 24 Hours win, a World Sportscar Championship crown, as well as an occasionally eclectic motor sport career that even included a season in the IROC stock car series in 1990 where he again impressed.
At the start of the 1996 season Brundle famously christened the then-new Albert Park circuit in Melbourne by doing a spectacular barrel roll over the top of several rival cars before coming to rest.
Brundle, somehow unscathed, immediately ran back to the pits to hop into this very chassis that is going up for sale to take the restart, much to the crowd’s rapture. The amazing scenes also formed the basis of the opening scene of the 2013 documentary, 1: Life on the Limit.
Brundle had success with the chassis later that year too, taking part in 11 more Grands Prix with it, claiming a point for finishing sixth in the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, then repeating the result at Montreal and Silverstone. It helped him to 11th place in the final drivers’ standings.
The car, designed by Gary Anderson, also represents an important stage in Jordan’s transition from being a midfield runner, which it had been in the main since debuting in F1 in 1991, to challenging for victory. It was the first year that Jordan could count on Benson & Hedges’ title sponsorship and this car’s distinctive gold livery was used only in the 1996 season.
It is believed that this is one of very few cars that retains its Peugeot engine.
The following year Jordan’s 197 was a regular frontrunner, while in 1999, Jordan genuinely challenged for the world championship. So you could say this car was an important stepping stone in the history of the team.