Richard Attwood, BRM P126, Longford 1968…

Posted: January 25, 2018 in F1, Features
Tags: , , , , , ,


Richard Attwood hooking his big Grand Prix BRM P126 2.5 V12 into Longford’s Viaduct during the ‘South Pacific Trophy’ weekend, 4 March 1968…

He was fourth in the very soggy race, this shot is in the dry earlier in the meeting, won by Piers’ Courage McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 car from Pedro Rodriguez’ BRM P261 2 litre V8 and Frank Gardner’s Alec Mildren owned Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 2.5 V8- a varied lot don’t you think?

I wrote a short article about this meeting a couple of years ago but have just ‘upgraded it’ to feature length due to the large number of photographs of this meeting released in more recent times by Lindsay Ross and Rod Mackenzie. Click on these links to check out their archives. and

The photos really needed a nice home to make them accessible. So you can thank them for this extended piece! Click here to read it;

The big BRM was far from the car of the series- the Lotus 49 Ford DFW was, but the championship was successful in giving the Bourne outfit valuable testing miles of their new ’68 F1 championship contender albeit in 2.5 litre form.

The BRM design and engineering team led by Tony Rudd were ‘up to their armpits in alligators’ after two fraught seasons in 1966/67 trying to get the BRM P83, or more particularly its complex, heavy, wonderful H16 engine to race fitness.

BRM chief Louis Stanley therefore briefed Len Terry, latterly of Eagle and Lotus to design and build a new F1 car. Three P126 chassis were constructed by Terry’s ‘Transatlantic Automotive Consultants’ concern powered by the brand new ‘sportscar customer’ P101, chain driven DOHC, 2 valve, Lucas injected 3 litre V12 which initially gave circa 370 bhp @ 9750 rpm, behind which was fitted a Hewland DG300 transaxle.

The Type 101 BRM engine- 60 degree all aluminium V12 with two chain driven overhead camshafts per cylinder bank operating two valves per cylinder. The compression ratio was 11.5:1, the bore and stroke 74.6mm/57.2mm, fed by Lucas fuel injection the power output during 1968 was initially 370 bhp rising to 390 bhp @ 9,500 rpm. The 2.5 litre variant was designated P121 and gave circa 340 bhp (unattributed)

Bruce McLaren had some good results with the first of the engines in late season 1967 F1 races bolted into the back of his M4B chassis. He was therefore more than happy to thrill his home crowds and assist the BRM lads testing and racing their new car in the New Zealand Tasman rounds before heading back to the UK and completing his own 1968 F1 machine, the Ford Cosworth DFV V8 powered M7A! When Bruce returned to the UK Attwood took over the car for the Australian rounds with Pedro Rodriguez racing P126/01.

In fact Bruce’s somewhat lucky win in P126/02, after Jim Clark’s late race excursion at Teretonga was the only race victory the P126/P133 (two cars designated P133 were built at Bourne to Len’s design) chassis ever had. But don’t discount this series of racers though.

Bruce McLaren on the way to Teretonga International victory on 27 January 1968. Clark’s Lotus 49 Ford DFW was 2nd and Frank Gardner’s Brabham BT23D Alfa was 3rd (I Peak/TRS)

Whilst the car’s Tasman Series was somewhat fraught, the best P126 results other than Bruce’s win were Dickie’s 6th in the Australian Grand Prix at Sandown and 4th at Longford- Pedro Rodriguez had the design leading two Grands Prix in 1968 and generally it was a front third of the field car, if lacking a bit in luck/reliability. These results included a front row start and leading the Spanish GP, 2nd at Spa, 3rd at Zandvoort, lead of the French GP and 4th in Mexico.

Lets not forget that sometime GeePee driver and 1970 Porsche 917 Le Mans winner Attwood took second place in the ’68 Monaco GP aboard a P126 too.

The late sixties BRM’s are often maligned but the P126/133’s results in 1968 F1 in a sea of Ford Cosworth V8’s (well five or six of them anyway in the hands of Lotus, McLaren and Ken Tyrell’s Matra International) were not too shabby at all, in part due to the learnings of the ’68 Tasman…

Etcetera: Attwood, BRM P126 ’03’ Monaco 1968…

The ‘King of Monaco’, Graham Hill won in the principality as he often did in the sixties but Attwood was a very fine second in the third of the P126’s built, a chassis he raced at Spa, Zandvoort, Rouen, Brands and the Nurburgring that year.


The high photos are beauties to show the key design elements of Len Terry’s car. The aluminium monocoque is a ‘full monocoque’ as against a ‘bathtub’, in common with his Lotus 38 and his Eagle T1G’s. Front suspension is period typical top rocker and lower wishbone with an inboard mounted coil spring/shock to get the mechanical gubbins outta the breeze.

See the spoiler on the nose- ’68 was the ‘Year of Wings’ with BRM being slow adopters and behind the eight-ball relative to other teams mid-season, but that is all to come. No seat belt yet for Dickie, which is interesting, six-point harnesses were not mandated until the start of 1972, but belts were common by Watkins Glen towards the 1968 seasons end.


Love those mag-alloy wheels, brakes are Girling, engine is carried by the chassis and is not a stressed member as the predecessor P75 H16 engine was in the P83 BRM tub. The Type 101 V12 was originally developed as a customer motor for F1 and sportscar use so its fitment needed to be ‘universal’ in multiple applications.


Beauty of a shot showing Attwood caressing his P126 through a delicate slide- it shows the effectiveness of the period typical rear suspension popping around 390 bhp to the tarmac. What was a leading Terry design trend are the parallel lower links which found their way into other designers lexicon circa 1971. The norm was an inverted lower wishbone. Otherwise the coil spring/shocks, single top link, twin radius rods and adjustable roll bar are ‘the usual’.

A Varley battery is vertically mounted beside the Hewland DG300 5 speed transaxle- the P126 design is notable as the first BRM without a Bourne ‘box. It was a good choice, these tough old jiggers are still for sale and in use with 550bhp Chev V8’s tearing away at their internals.

The power of that lovely V12, as stated above, around 390 bhp at this stage of the engines long evolution into the four-valver V12 success stories of 1970-2.

Photo and Other Credits… Keep, Ian Peak/The Roaring Season,


  1. graham64 says:

    “No seat belt yet for Dickie, which is interesting, six-point harnesses were not mandated until the start of 1972, but belts were common by Watkins Glen towards the 1968 seasons end.”

    I wonder was the last driver to compete in a World Championship Grand Prix who didn’t use either:

    a) any seat belt at all?
    b) a six-pont harness?

    • markbisset says:

      Don’t know- interesting questions tho- the Americans were ahead of the rest of us on belts. If memory serves (dangerous) Jackie Stewart started wearing belts straight after his ‘Spa ’66 accident- his BRM’s were so equipped.
      Jochen Rindt wore a Willans 6 point belt at Monza, but refused to use the crotch straps, see link attached. Without going into the details he may have survived the prang by using the belts fully.
      I bet one of Denis Jenkinson’s race reports has a comment somewhere to the effect of ‘every competitor wore a seat belt’ now you have me intrigued!

  2. Mark,
    From my understanding Jochen Rindt most likely would have survived his crash if the belts were used properly. His death was due to him sliding under the belt not so much by the other injuries! I believe he didn’t like using them at all!
    How many other were lost, as a result of that mentality of the time?

    • markbisset says:

      My understanding too- in essence he slid forward and under the belt given the forces of a frontal impact. This is not the place for the grisly bits.
      He had that big prang in the 49 at Montjuic in April/May 1969 which could also have easily been fatal, the seat belts he and Graham Hill wore in those wing support failure induced accidents helped save them both.
      So- given the foregoing you would think he would have been happy to have all the protection he could get knowing full well how dangerous the sport was generally and Lotuses in particular…
      Wonderful hindsight of course.

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