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
Most race cars were non-competitive after their first campaign — the 1927 Vauxhall was competitive for 23 years (1927–1950) and you can see it in person. Learn more