Famed F1 builder returns after more than 25 years

Although it hasn’t built road cars yet, Brabham is among the most iconic race car builders of all time, most famous for its 30-year career in Formula One. Established in 1962, Brabham disappeared from racing in 1992 due to financial issues. The brand was revived in 2014 as Brabham Racing, and in 2018 it unveiled its firm design in more than two decades. Meet the Brabham BT62, a track-only supercar powered by a 700-horsepower V-8 engine.

Seemingly unveiled out of nowhere, the BT62 is a project that David Brabham, the youngest son of company founder Sir Jack Brabham, has been working on for a few years. The firm was reestablished in 2014 with a goal to join the World Endurance Championship and to return to Formula One. This has yet to happen, but Brabham designed a supercar instead. Although it’s not eligible for road use, the BT62 looks as aggressive as track-only supercars get and its spec sheet is impressive to say the least. Let’s find out more about it below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Brabham BT62.

Brabham History

2018 Brabham BT62
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The company was founded in 1960 by two Australians, driver Jack Brabham and designer Ron Tauranac

Before we take a closer look at the BT62 supercar, let’s review Brabham rich racing history. The company was founded in 1960 by two Australians, driver Jack Brabham and designer Ron Tauranac and began racing in 1962, when it first Formula One car was ready.

Brabham posted good results from 1963 to 1965 and won its first championship in 1966 with a Repco-powered single-seater. The winning car was driven by Jack Brabham, who became the only champion to win in a car bearing the driver’s own name. The company scored its second F1 championship in 1967, again with Jack Brabham behind the steering wheel.

Although 1967 marked its last championship win, Brabham had several good seasons in Formula One, scoring season podiums in 1969, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1981, and 1983. The team won two more Formula One Drivers’ Championships in the 1980s with Nelson Piquet. The Brazilian won his first championship in 1981 in the ground effects BT49-Ford, and became the first to win a title with a turbocharged car in 1983.

2018 Brabham BT62
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Brabham introduced major innovations into Formula One, including in-race refueling, carbon brakes, and hydropneumatic suspension

Brabham also introduced major innovations into Formula One, such as in-race refueling, carbon brakes, and hydropneumatic suspension. In 1978, Gordon Murray designed the BT46B, a ground effects car that used a rear-mounted fan to stick to the track while cornering. Known as the "fan car," it won its first and only race before being banned by the FIA.

Brabham also raced in IndyCar, Formula Two, Formula Three, Formula 5000 and Sports Car racing, winning events in many of these categories.

Owned by Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac until 1971, Brabham was sold to Bernie Ecclestone in 1972. The team was sold to Walter Brun in 1988 and then to Joachim Luhti in 1989. It was acquired by Middlebridge Racing only months later and continued to race with modest results until 1992. Its last Formula One car was called the BT60, while a BT61 model was in the works. So the BT62 supercar continues to use the traditional naming scheme.

The name remained dormant until 2014, when David Brabham established Brabham Racing with plans to enter the FIA World Endurance Championship using a crowdsourcing business model.

Brabham BT62 Exterior

- * Aggressive aerodynamics
- * Carbon-fiber body
- * Race-spec diffuser
- * Big rear wing
- * Ground effects
- * 18-inch wheels
- * Michelin tires

2018 Brabham BT62 Exterior
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The no-nonsense rear fascia has "race car" written all over it

The BT62 is unlike any other Brabham built to date. That’s mostly because it’s not a single-seater. Brabham didn’t develop too many sports cars in the past, so it’s a bit awkward to see a race car that wasn’t built for Formula One. The BT62 looks decidedly modern and based on the aggressive aerodynamics, it appears that David Brabham knows a thing or two about ground effects.

Like most mid-engined designs, the BT62 has a short front hood and a bumper made out of big vents and all sorts of aero features, like a big splitter and dive planes. The hood is heavily vented, with additional louvers placed toward the A-pillars. The headlamps are vertically oriented with stacked LED lights and LED stripes toward the inside.

The side skirts are as aggressive as they get. They extend far from the body under the doors and morph into massive cooling vents toward the rear fenders. The beefy fenders, the low beltline under the window, and the sleek roof give the BT62 a compact yet aggressive stance.

2018 Brabham BT62 Exterior
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The body is made from carbon-fiber, while the wheel housings are made from a carbon-Kevlar alloy

The no-nonsense rear fascia has "race car" written all over it. The upper section features a honeycomb mesh grille, thin taillights that split toward the edges, and center-mounted exhaust pipes. Below, there’s an F1-style light in the middle and one of the biggest diffuser I’ve ever seen on a vehicle. The vertical blades are massive and the bumper-delete design leaves the fat rear tires in sight. Atop the decklid there’s a big wing in exposed carbon-fiber.

Speaking of lightweight materials, the entire body is made from carbon-fiber, while the wheel housings are made from a carbon-Kevlar alloy. The 18-inch wheels have a race-spec, center-lock design and come wrapped in bespoke Michelin competition tires.

The presentation model is finished in green with gold accents, the same colors of the BT19 which won the 1966 Formula One championship. Pretty cool!

Brabham BT62 Interior

- * Carbon-fiber construction
- * Alcantara upholstery
- * 12-inch instrument cluster
- * Carbon seats
- * Adjustable pedal box
- * Six-point harnesses
- * Fire extinguisher

2018 Brabham BT62 Interior
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There’s carbon-fiber everywhere, from the dashboard to the door panels and the seats

The interior is plain and simple, just like the cockpit of a full-fledged race car should be. There’s carbon-fiber everywhere, from the dashboard to the door panels and the seats. Even the removable steering wheels is made from the lightweight material and adorned by colored buttons and knobs, just like a Le Mans-spec LMP1 prototype. The upper dashboard is draped in Alcantara and also includes a 12-inch digital instrument cluster. The center stack is just a small console with push-buttons, while the center console is thin and houses fewer controls.

The carbon-fiber seats as very aggressive, with their side bolstering extending under the dash. Needless to say, the BT62 might not be a Formula One car, but you’ll definitely get an F1 feeling in those seats. Both the seats and the steering wheel are built to FIA standards, so Brabham may have plans for customer events in the future. Other highlights include six-point harnesses, an adjustable pedal box, leather door pulls, and a fire extinguisher.

Brabham BT62 Drivetrain

- * 5.4-liter V-8
- * Naturally aspirated engine
- * 700 horsepower
- * 492 pound-feet of torque
- * Six-speed sequential gearbox
- * RWD layout
- * Double wishbone suspension
- * Ohlins dampers
- * Brembo brakes

2018 Brabham BT62 Exterior
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The 5.4-liter is as powerful as a modern twin-turbo unit, generating a whopping 700 horsepower

The BT62 rides on an entirely bespoke, clean-sheet design chassis that’s extremely light. Given that Brabham is back in business for only a few years, it’s great to see that it put the time and money into a new design rather than borrow underpinnings from another sports car.

The engine is also built in-house. And more importantly, it’s a naturally aspirated V-8. But although Brabham went with a traditional recipe, the 5.4-liter is as powerful as a modern twin-turbo unit, generating a whopping 700 horsepower and 492 pound-feet of torque. Channeling all that power to the rear wheels is a race-spec, six-speed sequential gearbox. A motorsport-tuned exhaust system delivers a throaty exhaust note.

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The BT62 tips the scales at only 2,143 pounds and generates more than 2,646 pounds of downforce

The chassis is as modern as they get, using double wishbones front and rear and pushrod actuated, four-way adjustable Ohlins dampers. It also has adjustable anti-roll bars and something called "active bump control," which may help level the car on bumpy road courses. Stopping power comes from six-piston Brembo brakes with carbon-fiber cooling ducts, and race-spec ABS and traction control.

There’s no word on performance specs as of this writing, but given that the BT62 tips the scales at only 972 kg (2,143 pounds) and generates more than 1,200 kg (2,646 pounds) of downforce, it’s safe to assume that the supercar hits 60 mph in less than three seconds. Top speed is probably rated at more than 200 mph.

As an interesting note, the BT62 is 226 kg (498 pounds) lighter than the McLaren Senna. Its aerodynamic body also generates 400 kg (882 pounds) more downforce than the Senna’s.

Brabham BT62 Pricing

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A supercar with this much technology and carbon-fiber construction doesn’t come cheap, so it’s surprising that Brabham is asking £1 million plus taxes for the BT62. In the U.K., the taxes increase the sticker to £1.2 million, which makes it significantly more expensive than the McLaren Senna, priced from £750,000 including taxes. But unlike the Senna, which will be built in 500 units, production of the BT62 will be restricted to only 70 examples.

Brabham BT62 Competition

McLaren Senna

2019 McLaren Senna Exterior
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Unlike the BT46, the McLaren Senna is road-legal, but the British supercar is actually a race car that somehow can still be driven on public roads. The construction and aerodynamic principles behind it are very similar. The Senna is lightweight; it’s fast, it has advanced aerodynamics, and it looks downright menacing. The interior is equally simple and made from carbon-fiber for the most part. Motivation is provided by a twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8 engine that cranks out 789 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. The Senna is arguably more powerful than the BT62, but at the same time, it’s heavier too. The sprint to 60 mph takes 2.7 seconds, but we don’t know if it’s quicker than the BT62 yet since Brabham didn’t unveil performance specs. The Senna tops out at an impressive 211 mph. To be built in 500 units, the Senna costs £750,000 before options. However, all examples are already accounted for, so you have a better chance buying the BT62.

If the road-legal status of the Senna bothers you, fear not, McLaren will launch the track-only Senna GTR soon. Unveiled in concept form at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, the GTR will feature even more extreme aerodynamics, a race-spec cockpit, and an updated drivetrain. The V-8 engine will deliver "at least" 814 horsepower, which should decrease the 0 to 60 mph sprint to 2.6 seconds. The Senna GTR is likely to be built in significantly less units than the standard Senna, while pricing could be in excess of £1 million.

Read our full review of the McLaren Senna. Also check out our story on the McLaren Senna GTR Concept.

Conclusion

2018 Brabham BT62 Exterior
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As a big fan of 1960s Formula One, I’m glad to see Brabham return to the industry with a GT-style race car. A Formula One comeback would be cool too, but I’m not sure Brabham could survive given that massive budgets teams need to compete nowadays. Brabham is obviously too small right now, so I think that a limited-edition supercar is the way to go. Perhaps Brabham should follow its dream to join the World Endurance Championship and become an LMP1 builder, but a road-going version of the BT62 is a good idea too. Granted, a road-going Brabham car would go against tradition, but times have changed, and exclusive supercars are selling like hotcakes nowadays. It’s too early to draw a conclusion, but the BT62 looks great on paper. Let’s hope that these cars hit the track really soon.

  • Leave it
    • * Expensive!
    • * Very limited production run

Source: TopGear

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