You know what’s better than the Brabham BT62? The BT62R because you can drive it on the road

You know how when an automaker adds the letter "R" to the end of a model’s nameplate you feel the urge to yawn because here you have yet another potentially lackluster attempt at a ’sporty’ or, maybe, ’track-focused’ version of said model? Well, with Brabham’s BT62R the whole thing has been turned on its head.

While the BT62 is the track-only, ultra-noisy, not-really-comfy version, the BT62R is the one you can drive on the street. Just about any street, too. Confusing? Maybe, but does it really matter when you consider that, finally, we’re getting a BT62 that’s road legal in more than a couple of countries?

  • 2021 Brabham BT62R
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    5.4 L
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The BT62 hasn’t been neutered to become road worthy

2021 Brabham BT62R Exterior
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It’s been two years since David Brabham, the youngest son of three-time Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion (and all-around motorsports legend) Jack Brabham, re-launched Brabham. Now known as Brabham Automotive, the company’s model range is currently very, very sparse as the listed models are only three and they aren’t too different either.

The first model is the BT62, named in such a way to skip over the BT61 nameplate that should’ve been assigned to the final Brabham F1 car that never was thus ending Brabham’s three-decade-long involvement in F1. David doesn’t quite like to think about that whole story so his new car is the BT62. Now, the second model - the one we’ll be talking about today - is the BT62R. And I say the two are similar because the latter is the road-legal version of the former. Lastly, there’s the BT62 Competition which is the BT62 in a less sophisticated guise. Proper variety.

2021 Brabham BT62R Exterior
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For those that might’ve forgotten what the BT62 is all about, here’s a quick rundown of some of the key facts and figures before we dip our toes in the water, no, scratch that, the ocean that is the BT62R. So, when David Brabham announced he regained possession of the rights for the name ’Brabham’ (it’d been used by a tuning company that was making widebodied M3s and trying to sell them as ’Brabhams’), we all expected he’d get off to a slow start. After all, Brabs, who followed up on an underwhelming career in F1 with a much more successful stint in sportscar endurance racing, knows that you can’t win a race in the first corner but you can very much lose it there if you’re too ambitious. What I mean by that is, simply put, that Brabham could’ve been too ambitious and the product could’ve failed.

2021 Brabham BT62R Exterior
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Happily, the guys behind the project have been ambitious enough and have come up with something that honors the Brabham name by fighting against Brabham's old rivals such as Ferrari.

What they’ve created is a race car without a race series or, rather, an example of a new breed of toys meant for the ultra-rich: track-only hypercars featuring mind-numbing performance that have been built with no rulebook to hold them down.

There’s quite a few of them out there nowadays and, in fact, there are just enough for TopSpeed to assemble a list that you can check out right here.

2021 Brabham BT62R Exterior
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Brabham’s take at a track-only supercar, the BT62, is there as well and for good reason. A highly aggressive carbon fiber body sprouts a massive diffuser out back (with a wing on top of the rear deck), as well as a protruding splitter in the front. The wheels are 18-inch in diameter and are wrapped by racing slicks and there’re barge boards along the sides.

At speed, all of the aero appendages on the car together with the CFD-developed body generate 1.6 tons (3,527 pounds) of downforce which means the car could, theoretically, drive upside down give that it tips the scales at just 2,143 pounds.

The slicks together with the wing (which is adjustable, of course), diffuser, and splitter help it pull as much as 3.5 G’s through corners. That means you need some serious neck muscles to hold on.

2021 Brabham BT62R Exterior
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Many (including us) thought that Brabham coming out of the dark with something other than a single-seater is weird since the last Brabham sports car dates back to the ’60s but the BT62 makes a lot of sense.

Powered by a 5.4-liter, quad-cam, dry-sumped V-8, the BT62 boasts with 700 horsepower and 492 pound-feet of torque that are handled by a six-speed Holinger sequential transmission with pneumatic flappy paddles behind the steering wheel.
Brabham BT62R specifications
Engine Brabham 5.4l V8, 32 valve, quad cam engine
Bore & Stroke Bore 94 mm / Stroke 97 mm
Horsepower 700 HP @ 7400 RPM
Torque 492 LB-FT @) @ 6200 RPM
Throttle Control Drive-by-wire electronic individual throttle bodies
Exhaust Motorsport exhaust system (98dB)
Oil System Dry sump lubrication
Engine Control Motec engine control
Transmission 6 speed Holinger motorsport sequential transmission
2021 Brabham BT62R Exterior
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That wheel is not round and it’s got a ton of buttons and lights on it. It’s also removable so you don’t have to worry about getting in and out of the Alcantara-wrapped carbon bucket seats. The cabin itself is simple with little to distract you from the driving experience.

There’s carbon everywhere to shave some more weight and you’re held in place by six-point harnesses. For your safety, Brabham also installed a fire-extinguishing system and for your comfort, the pedal box moves back and forth. In short, it’s meant to be driven and driven hard.

2021 Brabham BT62R Exterior
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You and probably aren’t ready for just how fast this thing can go but, for the sake of this piece, it should be said that 0-60 mph is completed in under three seconds and that the top speed is somewhere over 190 mph despite the enormous downforce. Also, the car is lighter than a Senna and generates more downforce than McLaren’s most violent street-legal supercar (that’s probably why Woking developed the Senna GTR). Sadly, most BT62s won’t be driven hard and the reason for that is two-fold.

On the one hand, Brabham's only making 70 units and on the other, each is priced at $1.5 million (taxes included).

Here’s where we begin talking about the open road because as exciting as it must be to drive the BT62 around a race track, you can’t do that every day. Track days only happen once or twice a month and renting an entire track for yourself is quite expensive - and you may need some mechanics too to fiddle with the car. Sure, if you make millions every year it may not seem like much but, in any case, you won’t drive it too much if you can’t drive it on the road. On top of that, almost nobody will see you in it. I’m not saying that the only reason behind the purchase of a car such as the BT62 is to get attention but it sure is nice when you get it. Which you would if you could drive it down the road.

2021 Brabham BT62R Interior
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Back in early 2019, we reported that Brabham can sell you a $200,000 ’Road Compliance Conversion’ kit aimed at making the car road legal in most European countries. At the time, David Brabham was saying that "it’s clear some customers are keen to have a road compliant option with their BT62, particularly to drive to and from the track. My father Jack was always customer-focused, and we will continue with that ethos."

The company was also looking at ways to "see how feasible it is" to have it made road legal for other markets but we haven’t heard of any Asian or American customer driving his or hers BT62 since so, most likely, that wasn’t possible at the time. And that’s why the BT62R was born.

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Available in both RHD and LHD, the R has been thoroughly revised to be a friendlier proposition for your route to the shops. The list of modifications includes a nose lift kit that can rise the front overhangs all the way up to 5.1 inches as well as dropping them down to just 2.7 inches. There are other nose positions in between depending on where each owner will use the R as Brabham Automotive still underlines the car continues to be "very much at home" on the track. The list goes on with a new exhaust system that’s less noisy (both as far as cabin noise goes and outer noise).

Talking about creature comforts, the BT62R sports a heated windshield, functioning A/C, and an audio system, albeit optional. The splitter and the diffuser have been modified to ensure that you won’t bend them the moment you go over a speed bump and Brabham has done it by basically changing the shape of the splitter and reducing its dimensions beyond the edge of the car’s nose (same for the diffuser’s vertical slats). The seats are different too for added comfort on long journeys and the slicks have been dumped in favor of Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport road tires. There’s also a new ram-air intake atop the roof as if the car didn’t look sporty enough already.

2021 Brabham BT62R Exterior
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The BT62R will be offered in two "trims": Signature or Celebration Series. The former allows each customer to create alongside Brabham’s designers a bespoke livery for his or her car and the package is unique in that the livery won’t be reproduced for someone else. Then there’s the Celebration Series of liveries that pay tribute to Brabham’s 35 victories in F1. This second "trim" includes 18-carat gold logos and badges, a bespoke carbon cabin (again, unique to each vehicle), and something called a ’Track Pack’. This adds a bigger, track rear wing, splitter, and diffuser for fitting when required for track events. In other words, with the Track Pack, you get the bits off the normal, circuit-only BT62 to bolt back onto your BT62R if you feel like it.

The pricing hasn’t been announced but what’s important is that the BT62R will be part of the entire BT62 production run of 70 units meaning Brabham won’t make an extra batch of just BT62Rs. The company forecasts that between 20% and 50% of the 70 BT62s will be delivered in R specification with the first deliveries slated for the next few weeks. Brabham says it has secured costumers "in both the Southern and the Northern hemispheres" and there’s more to come from the British boutique automaker.

2021 Brabham BT62R Exterior
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The BT62 can be considered as Brabham Automotive’s halo car but it’s only the beginning, as CEO Dan Marks points out. "We continue towards the launch of our next car, which will be a fully homologated road car. We will be making further announcements about this exciting next chapter in the coming months," He said. Until then, "customers can get a taste of what it is like to drive a Brabham on the road with the BT62R."

Source: Autocar

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert -
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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