Immaculate condition aside you’d be hard-pressed to tell one of BRM’s ‘new’ P15 V16 grand prix cars from the originals, but the next car BRM builds will, in theory, be ever so slightly more accurate than the others.
That’s because BRM has tracked down and discovered the original body forming jig or ‘buck’ used to build the very first P15s back in 1949, and will be using it to hand-craft its next V16, known as Chassis V.
The original jig was used to form the first six V16 racers unveiled on December 15, 1949, which ran at Goodwood the next year. BRM notes the cars gained improvements over time to their cooling, handling and performance, but as the jig was used to build the cars originally – Britain’s first Formula One cars – it represents the V16 in its purest form.
As one might imagine, it’s taken some work to sniff out the original BRM buck, with the combined efforts of historians, journalists and collectors, plus a decent helping of luck to trace it down.
Hazy knowledge of its existence comes as no surprise, as there was little reverence in the past for old racing cars or the tools that built them; if a car could be made better it was, and if the tools that made it became obsolete, they were cast aside. It helps not to think too hard about all the incredible race cars that eventually became refrigerators and cola cans…
But sometimes, these nuggets of history are pushed aside rather than discarded entirely, and in this case the buck ended up in the roof of a boathouse owned by George Gray, the man who turned the BRM’s body from engineering drawings into its physical form.
A gentleman by the name of Geoffrey Marsh helped narrow down the search, and the jig is now, once again, in the hands of BRM.
Chassis V will be the first ‘new’ BRM built to the original specification, the car going to Richard Mille, founder of the eponymous luxury watch business, who describes it as ‘a privilege’ to add a car in original specification to his existing collection. BRM is expecting to complete Chassis V in early 2023, with the final car, Chassis VI, yet to be allocated.