BRM 16 cylinder, 1950


Historic Racing Cars 1907-1960

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The British Racing Motors V16 was a supercharged 1.5 litre V-16-cylinder racing engine built by British Racing Motors (BRM) for competing in Formula One motor racing. Designed in 1947 and raced until 1954 – 55, it produced 600 bhp at 12,000 rpm, although test figures from Rolls-Royce suggested that the engine would be able to be run at up to 14,000rpm. The engine was exceptionally powerful but the car had such poor reliability that in 1952 BRM withdrew their cars before a race in Turin while attempting to enlist Juan Manuel Fangio which resulted in the cancellation of the remainder of the Formula One season that year (because BRM were to have been the only opposition to Ferrari). Fangio said: “It was the most fantastic car I ever drove – an incredible challenge in every way.” The car, however, never achieved its potential mainly because of its unreliability but also because it was almost impossible to control in some circumstances. It had a centrifugal supercharger and as speed increased the delivery pressure increased so that a sudden increase of up to 80 hp or nearly 20 percent would make control of the vehicle extremely difficult. In 1952 the sponsors of BRM decided they had had enough and the business was sold to Sir Alfred Owen’s group, Rubery Owen. The car last raced in 1955 but new Formula One regulations that abandoned superchargers resulted in the end of the dream for which the car had originally been conceived.

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Dimensions 43 × 25.5 cm