If a racing car could disappoint an entire nation, that was the dramatic fate of Britain’s BRM. Conceived in 1946 as a world-beating Formula 1 car, the BRM V16 was built by the nation’s leading auto companies and suppliers to put Britain at the forefront in Grand Prix racing. Yet it failed so publicly and sensationally that the V16 BRM has gone down in history as one of motor racing’s most spectacular flops. Award-winning author Karl Ludvigsen brings to life the travails and triumphs of this exotic Formula 1 car, whose amazing engine was the first in history to rev above 10,000 rpm — with a shrill scream from its exhausts that captivated all who saw, heard and drove her.
A bright beacon of hope and promise for Britain’s motor-sports enthusiasts during the drab and rationed post-war years was their knowledge that the country’s leading auto companies and suppliers were banding together to create an amazing new car that promised to put Britain at the forefront in Grand Prix racing.
Declaring its intent with its name, British Racing Motor or BRM, the car was a veritable wonder machine shot through with fascinating and revolutionary features. Yet it failed so publicly and sensationally that the V16 BRM has gone down in history as one of motor racing’s most spectacular flops.
Few cars of any kind have a more exotic and exciting reputation among enthusiasts than the first BRM, a 16-cylinder wonder machine that was a bright beacon of promise in Britain’s drab post-war years. Heralded as a certain race winner and backed by the nation’s motor industry, exploiting the seized secrets of the 1930s Germans, the British Racing Motor bid fair to put the UK at the top of the Grand Prix tree. It did come good — producing more than 500 horsepower from 1_ litres — but only after the Formula 1 for which it was built had expired. From the files of the Ludvigsen Library come more than 150 rare photos of the BRM, one of the handsomest, indeed sexiest, racing cars of all time. Related articles and ephemera round out the story of a bold but ultimately misguided British venture that delivered too much too late.