Posts Tagged ‘Brabham BT26A Ford’

french ickx

(Rainer Schlegelmilch)

Jacky Ickx warms up his Bugatti T35B prior to the start of the 1969 French Grand Prix at Clermont Ferrand, 6 July 1969…

He qualified his Brabham BT26A Ford fourth (below) and finished third in the race won by Jackie Stewart’s Matra MS80 Ford. He had a good season with Brabham taking two wins; at the Nurburgring and Mosport but the lure of Ferrari was too great, he returned to the Maranello squad in 1970.

french brabham

(Rainer Schlegelmilch)


Rainer Schlegelmilch

hill 1

(Brian Watson)

Graham Hill having a squirt of  Jack’s Brabham BT26A Ford in British GP practice, Silverstone July 1969…

GH in a Brabham is not such a big deal; he raced F2 Brabhams with success for years as well as Tasman Formula ‘Intercontinental’ Brabhams in the mid-sixties. Later he was the pilot of Ron Tauranac’s intriguing ‘Lobster Claw’ BT34 in 1971 but he was a Lotus F1 driver in 1969, so ’twas a bit unusual  to practice an opponents car.


Hill’s red Brabham BT11 Climax from Clark’s Lotus 32B and Aussie Lex Davison Brabham BT4, all Climax 2.5 FPF powered on the way to an NZGP win for Graham. Pukekohe, 9 January 1965. Hill also raced an earlier BT7A in the ’66 Tasman for David McKay’s Scuderia Veloce, the entrant of the car shown, he was familiar with Brabham ‘GP’ cars long before 1969! (unattributed)

Jack was still recovering from a testing accident at Silverstone in June when a Goodyear popped off a front rim, his car ploughed into an earth bank, his ‘equal worst accident’ with the Portuguese Grand Prix one in 1959. He lay trapped in the car with a badly broken ankle, Cossie V8 screaming at maximum revs until he punched the ignition cutout and extinguishers to minimise the chance of the pool of fuel in which he lay igniting. Eventually a touring car also on the quiet circuit mid week stopped and raised the alarm.

Jacky Ickx driving the other Brabham was late for Silverstone’s first session, all timed for grid positions in those days, so Tauranac had 2 cars idle.

Graham and teammate Jochen Rindt were peeved with Colin Chapman, to say the least, as the Lotus transporter was not in the paddock when the session got underway. Graham was ‘ready to rock’ all suited up but had no car to do so and was more than happy to put in a few laps for Tauranac. Rindt remained in his ‘civvies’ and fumed as the rest of the field practiced.

hill 2

Ron Tauranac giving Hill a few tips on his very quick, twice a GP winner in ’69, BT26. ‘Just don’t over rev the thing for chrissakes Graham, Jack will kill me if you do…’ Is that Ron Dennis at right? (unattributed)

1969 was the year of 4WD experimentation for Matra, McLaren, Lotus and Cosworth. Ultimately, very quickly in fact, 4WD was determined an F1 blind alley; the traction the engineers sought was more cost effectively provided by advances in tyre technology, Goodyear, Firestone and Dunlop were all slugging it out in F1 at the time, none of ‘yer control formula’ bullshit then. The effectiveness of the ‘low wings’ mandated from the ’69 Monaco GP also played its part in getting grip.

Chapman’s issue was pursuading his pilots to treat the Lotus 63 Ford, his 4WD design seriously, to test it with a view to developing it rather than to humor him. 4WD was successful at Indy; Chapmans ’68 Indy Lotus 56 ‘wedge’ was 4WD and came within an ace of winning the race, so was the ’69 Lotus 64, ignoring the misfortune surrounding both of these cars.

It was a challenge to get Rindt into the thing at all but he did finish 2nd in the August 1969 Oulton Park Gold Cup. The result meant nothing though, in front of him was Ickx’ Brabham BT26A but all the cars behind were F5000 and F2 cars not GP machines. Still, it was useful testing for Chapman if not for Rindt, his 4WD view was formed!

Chapman’s solution to his drivers recalcitrance was to sell 2 of his Lotus 49’s, one each to Jo Bonnier and Pete Lovely, leaving only one 49 in Team Lotus’ possession! A car you don’t have is a car you cannot drive. Said drivers were not best pleased.

graham 63

Hill, Lotus 63 Ford 4WD, British GP practice, Silverstone July 1969. ‘Turn in bitch!’, understeer and the inability of these cars to respond to delicate throttle inputs plus excessive weight were the main performance deficiency issues. As well as the absence of the electronic trickery which helped make 4WD work into the 80’s (Brian Watson)

When the showdown with Chapman occurred and the speed, or lack thereof, of the 63 was clear Col borrowed back the car he sold to Bonnier, GH raced that 49 and JoBo the 63. Chapman rescinded the contract with Lovely.

The ever restless Lotus chief didn’t give up on 4WD in Fl, the gas turbine powered Lotus 56 campaigned in some 1971 events had its moments and potentially a great day in the wet at Zandvoort until Dave Walker ‘beached it’.

The 49 raced on into 1970 and in ‘C’ spec famously won the Monaco GP in Rindt’s hands before the Lotus 72, Chapman’s new 2WD sensation, which made its debut at Jarama was competitive.

grham 49

Hill races his Lotus 49B to 7th place. Silverstone 1969 GP (unattributed)

At Silverstone Hill raced the 49B to 7th having qualified 12th and Bonnier retired the slow 63 with a popped engine. John Miles making his F1 debut raced the other Lotus 63 to 9th, the young, talented Lotus engineer stroked the car home from grid 14.

Stewart won a thrilling high speed dice on the former airfield with Rindt, only ruined when Jochen’s wing endplate chafed a rear Firestone, some say it was the greatest British GP ever, on the way to his world title in a Matra MS80 Ford.

It would be interesting to know Graham’s opinion of the Brabham BT26 compared to his 49, the competitiveness of which, especially in Rindt’s hands not at all in doubt despite the 49’s middle age, it was a little over 2 years old in 1969.

I am a huge Graham Hill fan, he was well past his F1 best by the time i became interested in motor racing in 1972 but he was still quick enough to take F2 and Le Mans wins then, he was my kinda bloke, sportsman and champion. A statesman for his sport and country.

joc and jack

Jochen and Jackie scrapping for the ’69 British GP lead, Jochen’s Lotus 49B with bulk, uncharacteristic understeer. Look closely and you can see the closeness of his LR wing endplate to Firestone tyre, the cause of a pitstop to rectify and then back into the fray only to run outta fuel, the 49 notorious for its incapacity to sometimes scavenge the last few gallons from its tanks. Stewart Matra MS80 Ford (unattributed)

1969 was as tough a year for Hill as 1968 was great.

Jim Clark’s April 1968 death impacted Hill deeply on a personal level, they had been friends for years and Lotus teammates since the ’67 Tasman Series. Colin Chapman and Clark were like brothers and whilst Colin struggled with his grief, Hill in a tour de force of character and leadership marshalled Team Lotus by their bootstraps and refocused them on the year ahead. The result, World Titles for Hill and Lotus by the seasons end.

graham and jim

Clark and Hill beside Graham’s Lotus 48 Ford FVA F2 car prior to the start of the Australian Grand Prix, Warwick Farm, 1967. Car behind is Kevin Bartlett’s Brabham BT11 Climax. Clark was 2nd in Lotus 33 Climax FWMV 2 litre, GH DNF with a gearbox failure. JYS won in BRM P261 2.1 litre (History of The AGP)

The Tasman Series in early 1969 showed just how tough a year Graham was going to have within Lotus. Rindt joined them from Brabham and whilst enjoying it, he had committed to Jack verbally to return to Brabham in 1970, landed in the team in the year the Repco 860 quad-cam engine failed consistently.

Jochen had been in GP racing since mid 1964, was a consistent winner in F2 and had taken the 1965 Le Mans classic with Masten Gregory in a Ferrari 250LM, was regarded as one of the fastest guys around, if not the fastest but had still not scored his first GP win. Graham was simply blown-off by a guy with it all to prove, Jochen finally got the breakthrough win at Watkins Glen, the last round of the season in which Graham had what could have been a career ending shunt.

He spun mid race, undid his belts to bump start the car and of course was unable to redo them unaided; he spun again on lap 91, this time the car overturned throwing him out and breaking both his legs badly.

What then followed was a winter of Hill’s familiar grit and determination to be on the South African GP grid in March 1970. He was and  finished 6th in Rob Walkers Lotus 49C Ford.

Quite a guy, G Hill.

graham and col

Team Lotus 1969. Hill, Chapman and Rindt. A tough season all round. With some reliability from his Lotus and mechanical sympathy to it from Rindt, there was a serious opportunity at the title that year, not to be (unattributed)

Etcetera: Lotus 63 Ford…

miles 1

John Miles races the Lotus 63 to 10th on his GP debut at Silverstone 1969. Rounding him up is Piers Courage’ Frank Williams owned Brabham BT26 Ford, he finished 5th at Silverstone in a ripper season in this year old chassis. He emerged as a true GP front runner in ’69 (unattributed)


63 1

Cutaway self explanatory for our Spanish friends! Key elements of 4WD system in blue; see front mounted Ferguson system diff, Ford Cosworth DFV and Hewland DG300 ‘box mounted ‘arse about’ with driveshafts on LHS of cockpit taking the drive fore and aft to respective diffs. Rear suspension top rocker and lower wishbone, coil spring/damper, brakes inboard (unattributed)


miles 2

John Miles, young Lotus engineer and F3 graduate ponders his mount. Lotus 63 Ford. He was later to say the 63 was not so bad, he did more miles in it than anyone else, until he first parked his butt in a conventional Lotus 49! which provided context. Note forward driving position for the time and sheet steel to stiffen the spaceframe chassis. Nice shot of disc, rocker assy and stub axle also (unattributed)


63 2

Fantastic front end detail shot of the Lotus 63. Spaceframe chassis, Lotus first since 1962, beefy front uprights, upper rocker actuating spring/shock, lower wishbone. Ferguson system front diff axle and driveshafts to wheels. Big ventilated inboard discs. Intricate steering linkage from angled rack to provide clearance required (unattributed)


Photo Credits…

Brian Watson…, Vittorio Del Basso

Graham Howard ‘History of The Australian GP’

Tailpiece: Tauranac, Hill and the ‘Lobster Claw’ BT34 1971…


RT seeks feedback from GH during Italian GP practice Monza 1971. Hill Q14 and DNF with gearbox failure on lap 47. GH best results in 1971 5th in Austria and Q4 in France. Teammate Tim Schenken, in his first full F1 year generally quicker than GH in the year old, very good BT33, BT34 not RT’s best Brabham. No doubt RT missed Jack Brabham’s chassis development skills, Jack was on his Wagga Wagga farm from the start of 1971 (unattributed)


jack monaco

Jack Brabham starts the plunge from the Casino Square to Mirabeau in his factory Lotus 25 Climax ‘R3’ during the 1963 Monaco Grand Prix…

Brabham was joined at ‘Brabham Racing Organisation’ by Dan Gurney in 1963, the lanky Californian left Porsche at the end of their F1 program. In 1962 BRO ran a car for Jack only in the teams first F1 season.

For 1963 both were driving the latest Brabham BT7’s powered by short stroke, fuel injected Coventry Climax V8’s. In first Monaco practice Jack’s Climax munched a valve, Jack flew the engine back to the UK in his Cessna to have it rebuilt it in time for Sundays race. The F1 racer of 1963 was a DIY kinda guy, if his name was Brabham anyway!


Dan Gurney’s brand new Brabham BT7 Climax, Monaco 1963, he was mighty fast if lacking in reliability and luck in that car that year! Famously the driver Clark came to respect the most. (unattributed)

In final practice Gurney lost the head off a valve, as had Trintignants Lotus 24, Roy Billington gave Jack the sad news when The Guvnor returned with his rebuilt FWMV from Coventry.

Brabham decided to start Gurney and withdraw from the race. The following morning having heard of Jack’s predicament Colin Chapman sportingly offered Jack a drive in the Team Lotus spare, ‘R3’ fitted with last years Weber carb Coventry Climax V8. Clark did a 1:35:2 in this car ‘just for fun’ only 9/10 of a second slower than his pole time in his race chassis towards the end of qualifying.

Chapman knew Jack was well familiar with the handling characteristics of the car as Jack acquired a Lotus 24 in early 1962, the spaceframe variant of the epochal, monocoque 25 whilst Ron Tauranac completed the build of Jacks 1962 and first GP contender, the Brabham BT3.

And so it was that Jack had the opportunity to drive a car he had wondered a lot about since driving his own Lotus 24 Climax for much of 1962. ‘That was a great gesture by Colin and i was delighted not to miss the race, but i can’t say i liked his car. If i thought my tube chassis Lotus 24 had been cramped, this Lotus 25 redefined the term. Its German ZF gearbox had a weird ‘upside down’ change pattern, and whilst i thought Dans feet were big, Jimmy’s must have been microscopic! The 25 seemed to have terrific traction and cornered well, but the gearbox got stuck in 5th twice and i had to stop to have it fixed and finished way back’ said Jack in Doug Nye’s biography of him. Click here for an article on this race and the Lotus 25;

monaco 1963

’63 Monaco GP lap 1, the field led by Hill’s BRM P57 1st and Clark’s Lotus 25 cl 8th exiting the Station Hairpin. Next is Ginthers BRM P57 2nd, Surtees’ Ferrari T56 4th, #7 is a flash of McLaren’s Cooper T66 Climax 3rd, #4 Gurney’s Brabham BT7 Climax DNF ‘box and the rest. (unattributed)

MRD, BRO and the 1962 Season…

Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac formed ‘MRD’ Motor Racing Developments Ltd to build racing cars in 1961, their first car, the FJ MRD was raced by Aussie Gavin Youl that year.

The main games were both production racing cars and F1, ‘Motor Racing Developments’ jointly owned by Brabham and Tauranac built the cars and ‘Brabham Racing Organisation’ owned by Jack (at that stage) ran the F1 program; prepared and entered the cars and contracted commercial agreements to fund the program.


Brabham being pushed to the Sandown grid, March 1962. Brabham sold this Cooper T55 to John Youl who raced it very successfully over the next couple of years the car continually developed by engineer Geoff Smedley including fitment of a twin-plug 2.5 FPF built by Smedley, an interesting story in itself. (

Jack raced in the International Series of races in the Australasian summer in early 1962 in a Cooper T55 under his own ‘Ecurie Vitesse’ banner.

The car was his factory Cooper 1961 F1 chassis ‘F1-10-61’ the little 1.5 litre FPF used in GP events replaced by its big FPF brother, an ‘Indy’ 2.7 for the Antipodean F Libre races. He won at Levin in NZ and Lakeside Queensland, i reckon his last Cooper win was his victory in the ‘Sandown Park International’ on 12 March 1962 from Surtees and McLaren both Cooper T53 mounted.

jack caversham

Jack Brabham in his F1 BT3 derived BT4 ‘Intercontinental’ Formula Brabham powered by a Coventry Climax 2.7 litre FPF ‘Indy’ engine. BT4 used smaller tanks than BT3 and 15 inch wheels all round. Australian national F1 was F Libre at this time. AGP, Caversham, WA, November 1962. Bruce Mclaren won the race in a Cooper T62 Climax, Jack collided with another competitor. (Milton McCutcheon)

By the end of the year he was racing his own BT4, 2.7 FPF powered in the Australian Grand Prix at Caversham WA in November.

But first there was a season of Grand Prix racing to contest, BT3 wouldn’t be ready until mid year as the customer FJ program had priority; MRD built 11 BT2 FJ’s, BT3 and 3 BT4’s in 1962, not bad for a new concern!

‘Brabham Racing Organisation’ needed a car for Jack to race in both championship and non championship 1962 events in the interim.

Colin Chapman was more than happy to oblige, selling Jack Lotus 21 chassis ‘936’ and 24 ‘947’ to enable the Aussie to chase the prizemoney and championship points on offer.

The 21 was the factory 1961 F1 design, a beautiful chassis only let down by the lack of a suitable, modern engine, the old 1.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF even in updated Mk2 form was too long in the tooth to keep up with the Ferrari Dino V6’s in 1961. Mind you, the brilliance of Moss in Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 took two wins at Monaco and the Nurburgring and Innes Ireland one in his factory 21 at the season ending Watkins Glen round.

Chapman updated the Lotus 21 design into the 24 for 1962, adapting the chassis to take the new 1.5 litre V8 Coventry Climax FWMV engine and the suspension of his ‘experimental’ masterstroke, the Lotus 25, the first modern, monocoque single seater from which all such racing cars right through to the present owe their parental lineage.

24 chassis

Lotus 24 cutaway drawing. Multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, front suspension by top rocker and lower wishbones and coil spring/damper units. Rear suspension by reversed lower wishbone, single top link and 2 radius rods for lateral location, coil spring/damper units. Girling disc brakes. Wheelbase 91 inches, front track 51 1/2 and rear 51 3/4 inches. Weight 1036 lb dry. Fuel tank capacity 27 gallons. Engines Coventry Climax V8 or BRM V8, gear boxes 5 speed ZF or 5/6 speed Colotti Francis. A good Coventry Climax FWMV V8 developed around 181bhp@8200rpm in 1962. (unattributed)

Mind you, the customers of the 24 thought they were buying Cols latest design…

As is well known, the conceptual inspiration for the Lotus 25 was Chapman’s Elan road car and it’s backbone chassis; why not widen the ‘backbone’ to accommodate the driver, pop the fuel into the structure so created either side of him and get enhanced torsional rigidity for less weight, the primary objectives of the exercise?

Chapman sketched his ideas, the 25 was drawn by draftsman Alan Styman, the prototype ‘R1’ put together in the early months of 1962 in a partitioned part of Team Lotus workshop at Cheshunt by mechanics Dick Scammell and Ted Woodley working with Mike Costin, Lotus Engineering Director (and shortly the ‘Cos’ of Cosworth) and Chapman himself . Doug Nye; ‘Chapman suspected the concept might not work out, but would in fact revolutionise racing car design’

The 1961 Lotus 21 chassis frames torsional stiffness was only 700lb/ft per degree of deflection, the 24 frame was 10 pounds lighter bare weight (before brackets and aluminium fuel tanks) and had similar rigidity to the 21. The 25 weighed in at 65 pounds bare, ‘yet offered 1000 lb/ft per degree rigidity rising to what was at that time a staggering 2400 lb/ft per degree when the new Coventry Climax V8 was installed in its rear bay’ said Nye.

clrak tub

Clark all snuggled into his brand new Lotus 25 ‘R1’, Belgian GP 1962. Monocoque structure by rivetted D Shaped light alloy longerons with fabricated steel bulkheads to support suspension, steering and engine. Suspension, wheelbase and track as per Lotus 24. Engine Coventry Climax FWMV V8 and ZF 5 speed ‘box. Fuel capacity 32 gallons. Weight 990lb dry. (Yves Debraine)

Chapman justified the new type 24 customer design as against offering them the 25 saying ‘just in case the monocoque idea didn’t work out’. Many customers had ordered 24’s unsuspecting the works was going to be running something quite different and superior. From Chapman’s perspective it was simple; he could build and sell plenty of 24’s then, off the back of the speed of the 21 in 1961, the 25 was unproven and it would take months to fulfil the orders even if he could talk his customers into embracing what was a new concept. Better to ‘take the bird in hand’, Lotus Components could build the 24’s quickly allowing Chapman to focus on the new 25 and deal with the flack later!

Lotus 24 customers in 1962 included UDT Laystall 4 chassis, Rob Walker 2 chassis, Wolfgang Seidel, Team Lotus themselves and Brabham.


Maurice Trintignant in one of Rob Walkers Lotus 24 during the 1962 French GP. He was 7th and highest placed Lotus in the race won by Dan Gurney’s Porsche 804. (unattributed)

It’s interesting to reflect on Jack’s thoughts when the 25 was announced but he probably had more than a sneaking admiration for Chapmans ‘guile’, Jack and Chapman both ‘wheeler-dealers’ par excellence, one needed to get up pretty early in the day to get the better of them; if anyone ever did!

In any event, Jack was a racer, he needed to work with what he had knowing the BT3 was coming along later in the season and in any event the 25 might not work.

Jack’s 21 ‘936’ was first tested at Goodwood ‘I found one needed a shoehorn to fit into it-Colin Chapman seemed to build cars for midgets. But its ride was softer than any Cooper, its steering lighter and its handling good’ said Jack.

Only a few days later the car was destroyed in a workshop fire at the Repco facility in Surbiton where Tim Wall was preparing the car. Whilst fitting the battery a spanner shorted against one of the fuel tanks, making a small hole which then gushed burning fuel! Brabham and Wall ran out of fire extinguishers trying to control the fire and the fire brigade were unable to save the uninsured 21.

Chapman lent Jack the parts to build up another car which was ‘flung together’ in time for the Pau GP on 23 April. Jack qualified well in 4th but the car ran its bearings on lap 4.

The team rushed to make the ‘Aintree 200’, the following weekend but they missed practice, the car stripped its gears in the race which was won by Clark’s Lotus 24. Chapman and Clark let Jack drive the 24 for the first time in practice ‘Again i found it as tight as a sardine can’ quipped Brabham. Tight but fast!

By early May Jack’s 24 was ready, Roy Billington and Jacks team worked feverishly on the car to finish it at Lotus in Cheshunt in time for the ‘BRDC International Trophy’ at Silverstone on May 12. He was 13th on the grid and  finished 6th, the race won by Hill’s BRM P578. It was a good result, final chassis set-up was done by guesswork/the eye and the tacho drive failed.

dutch gp 1962

Brabham raced his Lotus 24 competitively in Holland before running into the spinning Rodriguez Ferrari 156. Q4, DNF on lap 4 upon Clark’s debut of the Lotus 25. (unattributed)

On 20 May the Lotus 25 made its race debut in Jim Clark’s hands at Zandvoort, Holland. The racing world drooled over ‘R1’ which Clark qualified 2nd and lead the race until clutch problems intervened.

clark zandvoort 25

Jim Clark debuts one of the most influential GP cars of all time; Lotus 25 Climax chassis ‘R1’ Zandvoort 1962. (unattributed)

24’s were entered for Trevor Taylor, Innes Ireland and Jack, the competitiveness of the chassis shown by Taylor’s 2nd place, Jack qualified very well 4th, but was punted out of the race by Ricardo Rodriguez’ Ferrari 156. The Mexican spun across his path as Jack lined him up for a fast downhill pass. The race was won by Hills BRM P57.

jack monaco

Jack blasts up Beau Rivage, Ste Devote in the background, Monaco 1962. Behind his Lotus 24 is Clark’s Lotus 25. Jim Q1 DNF with clutch dramas, Jack classified 8th. In the distance is one of the Ferrari 156’s. (Sutton Images)

At Monte Carlo Jack had ‘947’ flying, he qualified 6th and raced in 3rd until until a prang forced his withdrawal. He was classified 8th and quipped ‘I had a wishbone break-after i hit the barricade’ avoiding Phil Hill’s spun Ferrari 156 in Casino Square. Bruce McLaren won in a Cooper T60 Climax.

brabham 24 monaco

Brabham Lotus 24 Climax ‘947’ Monaco 1962. (unattributed)

Back in the UK a week later for the ‘International 200 Guineas’ at Mallory Park on June 11 he finished 2nd from 3rd on the grid and continued to get good experience of the new Climax V8 in the 24. Surtees was victorious in his Lola Mk4 Climax.


Brabham, Lotus 24, ‘2000 Guineas’ Mallory Park. June 1962. (unattributed)

A week later at Spa on 17 June he qualified 15th having arrived late and had little practice but raced well finishing 6th. Clark took his and the 25’s first championship win.

There the handling of the Lotus ‘was simply evil-demanding the full road width at 150mph…the boys straightened out the bent chassis (damaged in the Monaco prang) in time for Reims’.


Innes Ireland’s BRP/UDT Laystall Lotus 24 Climax being loaded at the 1962 French GP at Rouen. Innes Q8 DNF puncture on lap 1. Fine carefully faired rump on display, as is the rear suspension, typical layout of the day described in the text earlier. (unattributed)

At Reims for the non-championship GP he was 4th from grid 5 on 1 July, McLaren again winning in a T60 Cooper. Jack enjoyed a long high speed slip-streaming dice with Bruce and Graham Hill’s BRM and in the process forgot to switch to the reserve fuel tank late in the race.

Then a week later Jack contested the French Grand Prix at Rouen-Les Essarts qualifying 4th but failed to finish with a suspension breakage, a rear shocker mount had broken. Dan Gurney took a popular win in the Porsche 804 from Tony Maggs Cooper T60, a wonderful result for the young South African. Hill and Clark both had troubles.

jack aintree

Brabham firing up the Coventry Climax FMWV 1.5 litre V8 engine of his Brabham Racing Organisation Lotus 24 under the watchful eye of chief mechanic Roy Billington, Aintree, British GP paddock 1962. This shot shows the svelte lines of the car to good effect. (unattributed)

Back home for the British GP, that year held at Liverpool’s Aintree on 21 July he qualified 9th and raced to 5th. The new BT3 was nearly completed only difficulties finishing the complex ‘crossover’ exhaust system required by the early series Climax engines prevented its debut.

aintree 2

Brabham, Aintree British GP 1962. Lotus 24 Climax. (unattributed)

The BT3 ‘F1-1-62’ was completed the week after Aintree and run briefly at Goodwood before Coventry Climax dramas intervened…

The engine out of the 24 was slotted in and then tested at Brands ‘here at last was a modern F1 car into which i actually fitted. Its cockpit wasn’t too hot and most critically it handled beautifully. Ron really knew his stuff’ said Jack.


Brands BT3 test in late July at Brands Hatch. Tauranac at left, Harry Speirs of Climax fettling the engine and Jack. (Jack Brabham Story)

The BT3 was taken straight to the Nurburgring for its GP debut.

jack umbrella

Brabham awaits the start of the very sodden German GP, the Nurburgring awash. He looks calm but it had been a fraught practice with the new car, the Climax V8 ran a bearing. (unattributed)

On the 5th of August BT3 finally made its GP debut at the Nurburgring, Jack was taking the new car gently but it still ran the bearings in his Climax engine.

The team built an engine from the bottom end of a Team Lotus unit and top end of the one in BT3, which was rough but allowed him to qualify. Jack’s spare was flown in that night to Cologne and fitted in the morning.

He qualified 24th but failed to finish with a throttle linkage which had been lashed up with extra springs to ensure it would close safely, throttle balance in the corners a real challenge, so he retired. This thrilling race in awful wet conditions, watched by over 350000 fans was won by Graham Hill, a supreme drive in his BRM P57 by 2.5 seconds from Surtees’ Lola Mk4 Climax and Gurney’s Porsche 804.

bt3 cutaway

Brabham BT3 cutaway. Muti-tubular spaceframe chassis. Front suspension by unequal length upper and lower wishbones with coil spring/Armstrong damper units. Rear by reversed top wishbones, wide based lower wishbones coil spring/Armstrong damper units. Girling disc brakes. Fuel capacity 26 gallons. Wheelbase, as for the Lotus 24 and 25 was 91 inches. Front track 52 and rear track 50 1/2 inches. Weight 1045 lb dry. Engine Coventry Climax FWMV V8 circa 180bhp@8600rpm, 6 speed Colotti-Francis gearbox. (unattributed)

brabham bt3 germany

Brabham’s first GP car, the BT3 Climax makes its debut at the Nurburgring 1963. (unattributed)

Whilst testing of BT3 continued Jack raced the Lotus 24 ‘947’ one last time in the 3rd Danish GP at Roskildering on 25 August winning all 3 heats in a real carve-up with Masten Gregory in a similar Lotus 24, and the event as a consequence.

jack portrait

Nice portrait of Brabham in his Lotus 24 Climax in the Aintree paddock 1962. Cars behind are the Lola Mk4 Climaxes of John Surtees and Roy Salvadori. (unattributed)

Back in the UK Jack contested the ‘9th Gold Cup’ at Oulton Park on 1 September, Clark won the race in his Lotus 25, he seemed to have more luck in the non-championship than title rounds in 1962, Jack was 3rd in BT3 having qualified 5th. The race was held over a full GP distance so provided valuable mileage for the new car.

A critical learning was that the brake pads had worn after only 40 laps of a total of 73, the discs were increased in size from 9 to 10.5 inches and spring rates stiffened, the body was also ‘tidied up’ post Oulton.

gold cup

Brabhams BT3, Oulton Park ‘Gold Cup’ September 1962. (unattributed)

Jack elected to miss the Italian Grand Prix on September 16 in order to better prepare for the ‘away races’ at the end of the season; the non-championship Mexican GP and final championship rounds at Watkins Glen and Kyalami. Graham Hill won at Monza from teammate Richie Ginthers BRM P57, Clark started from pole but this time gearbox dramas caused a lap 12 DNF.

jack US

Brabham BT3, US GP. (George Phillips)

The US Grand Prix was held at Watkins Glen on October 7, Clark won the race from Hill and in so doing kept his championship hopes alive, the title was decided in the final round in South Africa.

Jack had a competitive run finishing 4th, having a big dice with Gurney and McLaren, despite his Colotti box jumping out of gear and qualifying 5th, the ‘Automobile Year’ report stating Jack ‘created a sensation in qualifying’ with what was still a new car.

The non-championship Mexican Grand Prix was contested by many of the GP teams on 4 November as it was close to the US Grand Prix in both time and proximity. The event was a tragic one; Ferrari had not entered but local star Ricardo Rodriguez, a Ferrari driver that year was keen to strut his stuff in front of his home crowd at the Magdalena Mixhuca circuit at Mexico City.

He approached Rob Walker who entered the 20 year old in his Lotus 24 Climax.

Jack’s Lotus 24 ‘947’ was lent to John Surtees for this race and was a ‘bit player’ in the sequence of events which lead to Ricardos death.

Rodriguez had fastest time, which Surtees then pipped in ‘947’. Rodriguez kissed his father on the hand from the cockpit of the Lotus and went out to attempt to retake pole to keep the faith with the thousands of his countrymen who had turned up to see him.


Poignant and sad shot. Ricardo Rodriguez kisses his fathers hand, youngest brother Alejandro looks on and drives the Rob Walker owned Lotus 24 Climax to his death. Mexico 1962. (unattributed)

The poor driver had a massive, fatal accident on the dauntingly fast Peraltada corner.

Some reports say their was a right rear suspension failure on the Lotus, others that he was simply going too fast in a car he wasn’t familiar with. Innes Ireland’s account in his autobiography of the differences in handling of the Lotus 24 and Ferrari 156, he raced both in 1962, is that they were considerably different. Its possible given his limited time in the Lotus that Rodriguez made an error as a result of the differences in handling characteristics of the different chassis’. Whatever the case the young driver was dead.

Clark and Trevor Taylor shared the winning Lotus 25 from Jack’s BT3 and Ireland’s Lotus 24.


Jacks BT3 2nd leads good mate Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T60 Climax DNF engine in the 1962 Mexican GP. 4 November. (Dave Friedman Collection)

John Surtees, in Jack’s Lotus 24 qualified 4th in front of Jack in 7th but had ignition failure in the race and failed to complete a lap. ‘947 was then sold to Syd van der Vyver in South Africa. It was subsequently destroyed in a workshop fire there, it and Jack’s Lotus 21 ‘936’ have been ‘reconstructed/rebuilt/rebirthed’ and run in Historic Events to this day.

At Kyalami on December 29 Jack had another competitive points winning run again finishing 4th, despite a gearbox jumping out of 3rd and 4th gears. Jack experimented with the first Hewland gearbox in BT7 in 1963 and in so doing ended the gearbox unreliability for the non-BRM British teams of the era, Mike Hewland’s transmissions amazingly robust.

All of the South African GP drama was centred on the battle for the championship between rivals and friends, Clark and Hill.

Clark led from pole and had the race ‘in the bag’ but as was so often the case in 1962, whilst the Lotus 25 was easily the fastest car it was not the most reliable. Races were lost due to engine, gearbox, clutch and other component failures, and so it was that Jim retired on lap 61 of the 82 lap event with an engine losing oil, a liquid which cannot be replenished during a race.

Hill took a popular race and drivers championship win, and BRM’s only one as a manufacturer.


Brabham races to victory in BT3, the first GP win for Brabham as a marque, at Solitude, Stuttgart 28 July 1963.  (unattributed)

BT3 raced on into 1963 and GP Success…

Ron Tauranac developed a new car for 1963, the BT7 which was a lighter and cleaned-up BT3, Gurneys car 2 inches longer in the wheelbase than Jack’s in an effort to keep the lanky Californian comfier than Jack had been in Chapman’s Lotus 24!

Jacks BT7 was not ready until later in the season, he ran BT3 at Monaco before the Climax engine failure, racing the Team Lotus 25 and at Spa before using BT7 in the championship events from the Dutch GP in June.

Fittingly BT3 won Brabham’s first GP as a manufacturer when Jack won the Solitude GP, near Stuttgart, Germany on 28 July 1963 from Peter Arundell’s works Lotus 25 and Innes Ireland’s BRP BRM. The circuit was majestic, 7.1 miles long with many fast corners through pine forests with average speeds of over 105 mph, it was a fitting place to take such a win.

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Solitude GP 1963. Brabham’s #1 BT3 1st from #30 Jo Bonnier’s Cooper T60 Climax 9th, #16 Trevor Taylor’s Lotus 25 Climax ‘R3’ DNF, the car Jack drove at Monaco that May, the red nosed Lola T4A Climax of Chris Amon DNF #2 Innes Ireland BRP BRM 3rd, #17 Peter Arundell’s Lotus 25 Climax and the red Lotus 24 BRM of Jo Siffert DNF. (Michael Turner)

solitude article

‘Autosport’ 1963 Solitude GP report

Solitude was truly an amazing feat for a newish marque. Jack famously became the first man to win a championship GP in  a car of his own name and manufacture at the French GP in 1966, when BT19 Repco took the chequered flag.

BT3 was also used by Jack to win the Austrian GP at Zeltweg on 1 September from Tony Settember’s Scirocco BRM and Carel de Beaufort’s Porsche. Raced by Denny Hulme to 3rd in the Kanonloppet at Karlskoga, Sweden behind Clark and Taylor’s Lotus 25’s on 1 August, BT3 was retained as BRO spare car for the balance of 1963.

Sold to Ian Raby for the 1964 season and a life in British Hillclimbing after that before being restored by Tom Wheatcroft in 1971 and an exhibit of his fantastic Donington Museum. In more recent times BT3 has been sold and is ‘historic raced’ which seems fitting for a car so significant in laying the foundations of success for Tauranac and Brabham all those years ago…


BT3 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2012. (

Team Lotus sorted the 25 over the ’62/3 winter into a more consistent, reliable package, Doug Nye credits Len Terry for his role in finessing and fettling the car and Coventry Climax also developed the engines further.

Not only was the Lotus 25 and its successor 33 the best package of the 1.5 Litre F1 but one of the ten most important GP designs ever…no doubt Ron Tauranac had a good, long, hard look at Jacks sister Lotus 24 as he finalised the design elements of BT3 in the early months of ’62.


Victorious spaceframe amongst the monocoques; #6 Jacky Ickx in his winning Brabham BT26A Ford, #7 Stewart Matra MS80 2nd, Rindt Lotus 49B DNF and Hulme McLaren M7C DNF, all Ford powered. German GP 1969. Tauranac evolved his Repco powered 1968 BT26 into the Cosworth powered BT26A for ’69, Ickx also won at Mosport, Canada. Ron was using aluminium to provide some additional structural stiffness to his multi-tubulat masterpieces by then. (unattributed)

One of the bits of history which amuses me, small things amuse small minds, granted! is that despite the undoubted technical advantages of a monocoque chassis over a good-ole spaceframe, Tauranac’s Brabhams won GP’s with spaceframes right to the end of the sixties; his 1968 design BT26, won 2 Grands Prix for Jacky Ickx in 1969, let alone the titles Ron and Jack took in ’66 and ’67! So theory and practice sometimes diverge.

Tauranac’s first monocoque GP Brabham, the 1970 BT33, a change forced by regulations demanding ‘bag’ fuel tanks (his 1968 BT25 Indycar was his first monocoque) was a ripper car, one of the seasons best, it should have won at least 3 GP’s (South Africa, Monaco and British) instead of the one it did and Jack with luck, could have taken a title in his final, 1970 F1 year.


Brabhams BT33 3rd ahead of Hulme’s McLaren M14D 4th and Peterson’s March 701DNF a Ferrari 312B in the distance. Rindt’s Lotus 72 Ford won. French GP, Clermont Ferrand 1970. BT33 took a win for Jack in South Africa in 1970, Tauranac’s first GP monocoque. (unattributed)

Back to the period at hand; 1962’s BT3 evolved into 1963’s BT7, a very competitive package in the hands of both Jack and particularly Dan Gurney who became the driver the era’s undoubted star, Jim Clark feared the most.

There would be Brabham wins in the 1963-65 period but not as many as there should have been with a series of problems/preparation errors and bad luck of the type Team Lotus experienced in 1962, a story for another time…


Lotus 24.

24 outline

Lotus 24 outline. (unattributed)


Brabham, Lotus 24 Climax, Dutch GP 1962. (Getty Images)

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Jack Brabham Lotus 24 Climax Monaco 1962 (John Hendy)

Brabham BT3.

bt3 outline

Brabham BT3 outline. (unattributed)

The photos below by George Phillips were taken of BT3 on 29 July 1962 at MRD’s New Haw Lock factory beside the River Wey navigation canal adjacent to the old Brooklands circuit.

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Profile of BT3 (George Phillips)

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Cockpit shot of BT3 also shows the spaceframe chassis and unusual front suspension, beefy upper wishbone and single lower link (George Phillips)

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BT3 Rear wishbone upper and lower suspension, Weber carbed Coventry Climax FWMV engine in 1962, Colotti-Francis 6 speed ‘box. (George Phillips)

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BT3 CC FWMV engine layout, spaceframe chassis, vestigial roll bar!, 2 radius rods. (George Phillips)

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BT3 butt shot. Nicely faired engine, inverted upper wishbones. (George Phillips)

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BT3 front detail. Spaceframe of 18 guage steel construction, Smiths instruments, LH change for Colotti ‘box, front suspension detail including odd top wishbone. (George Phillips)

BT7 1963 Future.

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Brabham’s own spaceframe 1963 vintage. Jack in the Nurburgring paddock in a BT7 Climax, an evolution of BT3, 1963. (unattributed)


Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car 1965-85’, ‘Automobile Year’ # 10 and 11, Doug Nye ‘The Jack Brabham Story’,,

Photo Credits…

The Cahier Archive, Dave Friedman Collection, Milton McCutcheon, Yves Debraine, John Hendy, George Phillips,, Getty Images, Sutton Images

Tailpiece: Brabham debuts BT3 Nurburgring 1962…

What a sense of achievement and anticipation Brabham must have felt as he set off on his first laps of The ‘Ring in BT3, in his wildest dreams i doubt he would have imagined the success of the following years?!

jack ring

(The Jack Brabham Story)