The British F1 race car manufacturer, Brabham, is back! After some time away from the limelight, Brabham, who used to create some of the best race cars the world has ever seen, has reinvented itself with a new car: The BT62. During the BT62's big launch in London I got the chance to ask a few questions about the car that weren’t included in the press release.
The BT62 is a mid-engined $1.3 million carbon fiber track special with a 5.4 liter V8 that cranks out 700 brake horsepower. Top speeds and 0-60mph times are still under wraps, sadly, though they’ll come soon. Only 70 will be built, so if you want one you’d best get in quick.
Here’s what else I learned.
The BT62 has been around for two years.
Usually you hear at least something about a new car long before it launches. Spy shots of the next Porsche 911 are making the rounds on any given day, right? So how come we didn’t hear anything about the new Brabham? Probably because a stack of non-disclosure agreements were thrown at anyone who went anywhere near it. This car had as much secrecy as a Beyonce album. It also helped that Brabham let very few people see the car outside of the company.
“We made sure that when we were testing there was a lockdown on that area, that there were no camera phones,” James Haskey, Brabham’s director of sales and marketing said. “We were meticulous to make sure that no one got a picture of this car.”
He went on to say that those not directly connected with Brabham often didn’t get to see the car: “Microsoft, who are here tonight, have been working with us and haven’t actually seen the car.”
Haskey went on to say that while a select few prospective buyers had been told about the project, none of them had actually seen the car. A bold sales strategy, sure, but if you know who’ll be keen and tell them who’s making the car it may not be as risky as you’d first think.
Brabham wants to build a road car.
Brabham hopes the BT62 is the first of many. Think of it kinda like a super specialized McLaren MP4-12C. The first go, showing what the company can do and lighting the way for a design language that’ll make Brabham’s cars stand out for years to come. However, it’s going to be a long while before you’ll be able to head over to your local Brabham dealer for a test drive.
“We’d be lying if we said we didn’t want to get to road, that is an aspiration,” Haskey said.
Then he changed the subject.
For now a road car isn’t in the cards. The company is concentrating on BT62 and what its prospective clients want to do with it. However, the Brabham business model is clearly more than ‘build a silly expensive car and flog it.’ From expensive track cars, mighty oaks grow.
You have to be trained before you can drive it.
Here’s the kicker - you’ve just dropped over $1 million on a new car, and you’re excited to drive it. Well... tough luck. You’ve got to meet a minimum standard before you get in the hot seat because it’s not your average car.
“The car isn’t massively reliant on electronics. One of the reasons the driver program has to be very different to what’s out there at the moment is we’ve got to bring you up to that level,” Haskey explained. “We’re going to take you, a driver, and we’re going to bring you up to David’s [Brabham-Le Mans winning super racer] level.”
“We need to take you through a number of steps before you get in the car and then we will grow your ability. Then we’ll set the car up for your requirements.”
Haskey said that Brabham will look not only at a driver’s ability during the yet to be detailed training, but also their emotional state. The difference between how fast a car can actually go around a corner and how fast a driver is willing to go before their I-don’t-want-to-die meter intervenes can be quite great, so Brabham is going to train its drivers to push through the fear and reach their limits. All so they don’t bend their shiny new BT62s on their first outing.
“It’s a duty of care. This car is designed by a Le Mans winner to be that level. It’s a GT car without restrictions, that’s the best way to describe it. So we need to educate the driver up to that level. Once we’ve got them up to that level we’ll push them even harder.”
So the skinny is—you buy your car, Brabham teaches you how to drive it the way it should be driven as part of the package, and you get to have lots of fun in the process. Though if the customer is also a Le Mans winning racer they probably won’t have to do quite as much training as, say, an office-bound city trader.
Its V8 began life as an OEM unit.
The V8 in the BT62 was originally an OEM motor. However, it was modified so much that the OEM told them it’s so far from stock that now it’s a Brabham motor through and through. I asked which OEM threw the original motor Brabham’s way but was met with ‘it’s a Brabham motor.’ So here’s a cheeky picture. What do we think, Jalopnik? Who made it first?