Lot 454: 1973-74 3-Liter BRM P160 V12 Formula 1 Racing Single-Seater
Here we are delighted to offer an all-British 3-liter Formula 1 Grand Prix car which is, in effect, �The British Ferrari.� British Racing Motors manufactured not merely the chassis of its BRM Grand Prix cars but also its 3-liter V12-cylinder racing engine and its super-sophisticated, beautifully made BRM transaxle transmission. BRM had been created in 1945-46 to produce an all-British challenger in the international Grand Prix arena, and its original project emerged as the Project 15 (for 1500cc, the engine capacity then demanded by Formula 1 regulations). The BRM P15 was powered by an extraordinary 2-stage centrifugally-supercharged V16-cylinder racing engine of just 1�-liter displacement � 91 cubic inches � which proved ultimately capable of developing well over 520-horsepower.
BRM went on to build 4-cylinder 2 2/1-2liter F1 cars 1955-1960, followed by 1�-liter V8s from 1961-65 � some of which carried Graham Hill to his first Drivers� World Championship crown in 1962. Jackie Stewart cut his teeth on BRM BV8s as a Formula 1 star in 1965 � winning twice in his debut season � and for 1966-67 the technically highly-advanced team produced another fabulous 16-cylinder Grand Prix model � the H-layout P83 and P115 designs. In 1966 the US GP was won by a BRM H16-cylinder engine in Jimmy Clark�s Lotus chassis.
New 3-liter V12-cylinder engines followed 1968-74. They won Grand Prix races from 1971-72 when the P160 model � designed by Tony Southgate (ex-Eagle) became a rival to Dan Gurney�s gorgeous 1967 Eagle-Weslake by laying claim to being the most stunningly beautiful 3-liter Formula 1 car ever produced.
Chassis '09' as offered here is presented in 1971 Yardley-liveried form with the shapely 'shovel' nose as originated by Tony Southgate for these cars. Seen side-on here was the ultimate in needle-nosed Formula 1 profiles - the most gorgeous of all these 'British Ferraris.'
BRM P160 chassis �09� now offered here actually made its racing debut in the 1973 British Grand Prix at the historic Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire, on July 14 that year. It was entrusted to the Lincolnshire-based team�s ex-Ferrari Swiss-Ticinese driver Gianclaudio �Clay� Regazzoni, who hammered it home into a solid 7th place after qualifying 10th on the starting grid, just one-tenth of a second slower than his fast-developing young Austrian team-mate Niki Lauda. In the following year they would drive together in the Ferrari Formula 1 team, no less.
On July 29 Regazzoni was out in �P160-09� for the second time, driving in the 1973 Dutch GP at Zandvoort, where he qualified 12th fastest in mid-grid, and finished 8th. In the following German GP at Nurburgring, where he was a previous winner with Ferrari, �Regga� again qualified in midfield, 10th fastest, and ran briefly 9th in the gruelling Grand Prix before suffering a failure in the P160�s 3-liter V12 engine.
Better fortune attended Regazzoni and the BRM in the Austrian GP at the Osterreichring on August 19, where he drove �09� home into sixth place scoring a World Championship point for himself and for his team. The Italian GP followed at Monza on September 9 � another event which Clay had previously won for Ferrari � but there the ever-popular Swiss veteran suffered an electrical problem which sidelined �09� after 31 race laps.
The BRM team�s autocratic principal, Louis Stanley, then �dropped� Regazzoni for the team for the Canadian GP at Mosport park on September 23, where �09� was entrusted instead to past CanAm and Formula 5000 McLaren star Peter Gethin. The car�s oil pump belt failed during the opening laps and Regazzoni was reinstated for the following United States GP at Watkins Glen on October 7, again driving chassis �09� and again finishing in 8th place.
Into 1974 the P160 cars were modified and updated to remain competitive, but the BRM team itself was struggling to keep afloat in modern big-money Formula 1 and had lost its previous Phillip Morris �Marlboro� sponsorship. A new sponsor was found in the French Motul oil company and the further-developed P160 cars were re-liveried in silver-grey and Motul Green, which team manager Tim Parnell described as being �Lincoln Green� after BRM�s home county in England and which was, of course, the legendary color favored by Robin Hood � �who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor��
BRM P160 �09� made its debut in these new colours in the Argentine GP at Buenos Aires on January 13, 1974, driven by French star Jean-Pierre Beltoise, who finished brilliantly in 5th place, scoring two more World Championship points for the ageing V12 warhorse. He then finished 10th in the car in the Brazilian GP at Interlagos, Sao Paulo, on January 27, and 8th in the non-Championship Presidente Medici GP at Brasilia on February 3.
His French team-mate Francois Migault took over �09� for the South African GP at Kyalami, outside Johannesburg, on March 30 � bringing it home 15th � but in the Spanish GP at Jarama, Madrid, on April 28 Migault was forced to retire from the race.
The BRM�s final frontline racing appearance then followed in the British GP at Brands Hatch, Kent, on July 20, 1974. Driven yet again by Francois Migault, the car ended a troubled race 14th overall but having completed too few laps to be classified. This chassis was then retired from further competition, having done battle in a dozen World Championship level Grands Prix, plus one non-Championship race and having accumulated the respectable total of three World Championship points � considering that the majority of Formula 1 chassis will never achieve any at all.
In later years P160 �09� was sold by the BRM team at Bourne, Lincolnshire, and passed eventually to an American owner/driver in whose hands it ran in the 2002 United States Grand Prix support event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where its spine-tingling V12 exhaust note set pulses racing as it echoed back from the surrounding grandstands. In 2003 the car reappeared at the Monterey Historic weekend, Laguna Seca, reappearing there in 2004. In March last year P160 �09� competed in the Monterrey Mexico event in support of the A1 Grand Prix at Fundadora Park, driven by John Andersen.
As offered here in BRM 1971-season Yardley livery this P160 is very much �The British Ferrari� � a 4-cam 3-liter V12 which was totally restored with a complete engine rebuild in 2003 by celebrated American specialist Phil Reilly and as a car which has been supported and maintained by Phil Reilly and Co. to this date.
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Bonhams & Butterfields, Quail Lodge Resort & Golf Club, Carmel, California
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