1962 British Racing Motors, Ltd.

Type: P-578 Grand Prix Car

  • Serial No. 5781
  • Eight-cylinder vee-type engine, double overhead camshafts, two valves per cylinder, 1498 cc, 193 bhp at 10,250 rpm.

This car is the most famous product of British Racing Motors, Ltd. Named “Old Faithful,” she
brought driver, Graham Hill, the Formula I World Drivers’ Championship and BRM the F-1 Constructors’
World Championship in 1962.

“Old Faithful” is one of the highest mileage cars in Grand Prix history, having raced for both
works and Scuderia Centro-Sud in 1963, for veteran driver Maurice Trintignant in 1964 and Centro-Sud
again in 1965, over 20,000 miles!

Even before WW2 ended, pre-war British racing celebrity Raymond Mays launched his all-British
Grand Prix program. It was to be funded by a motor industry cooperative named “The British Motor Racing
Research Trust,” its focus to build the “British Racing Motor,” or BRM. That sensationally-specified 1.5-
liter, centrifugally supercharged V-16, intended to emulate Hitler’s GP racing strategy by generating
national prestige, flopped miserably.

In 1952, the Trust sold out to loyal backer Alfred Owen of the Owen Organization, British
industry’s largest privately owned company. “British Racing Motors Ltd.” was then formed to develop new
BRM cars.

When a new 1½ liter Formula 1 began in 1961, BRM raced Climax-powered spaceframe chassis
P57s while this smaller P578 was being readied for the first P56 V8 engine. The new car was finally ready
to test at Monza around that September’s Italian GP. Graham Hill drove it some 280 miles there.

In 1962, Graham won his heat in “5781”s race debut, the Brussels GP in Belgium, placed 2nd at
Snetterton, then at Goodwood, on Easter Monday, he scored his maiden F-1 victory. He led the Aintree
“100”, then at Silverstone beat Jim Clark’s new Lotus Climax V8 by inches.

The subsequent World Championship Dutch GP provided Graham’s maiden championship points
win. As the 1962 season wore on, he led the Monaco, Belgian and French GPs in this same car, placed 2nd
at Reims and won the German GP at the Nürburgring. Another 2nd at Oulton Park preceded the
championship round Italian GP at Monza, where she and Graham Hill won yet again with less than a pint of
fuel remaining. Graham and “5781” then placed 2nd in the United States GP at Watkins Glen positioning
him to wrap up the Championship in South Africa in a sister car.
“Old Faithful” indeed…

 

Photos – Peter Harholdt

Stats

Year
1962 British Racing Motors, Ltd.
Type
P-578 Grand Prix Car
Serial No
5781
Engine
Eight-cylinder vee-type engine, double overhead camshafts, two valves per cylinder, 1498 cc, 193 bhp at 10,250 rpm.
Wheelbase
89.63 inches
Weight
1200 pounds

Did you know?

Our 1914 Simplex in the collection once belonged to Barron Gift Collier. Learn more

Collier Collection