Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,109 pages of information and 233,634 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


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1950. From British Motor Cars 1950/51.

1945 Raymond Mays and Peter Berthon founded a new motor racing stable, British Racing Motors (BRM). BRM's workshops were established behind Mays's house in Bourne. May's life-long ambition was to see his country succeed at the top level of international motor sport. This ambition was not always matched by his technical or financial resources and culminated in the failure of the BRM V16 project.

Mays and Berthon wanted to build a distinctively British grand prix car to challenge continental teams and enhance British prestige. Alfred Owen was among the first businessmen to back the project, initially with £1000 and the offer of free parts and services.

1947 Owen played a key part in establishing the British Motor Racing Research Trust to manage the venture.

1949 The first BRM, which had a distinctive and ear-splitting roar, was completed in December 1949.

1950 Before a large crowd, including royalty, at Silverstone the car failed to leave the grid.

The BRM project, in many ways muddled and directionless, encountered prolonged financial, legal, administrative, and technical problems, as well as some appalling luck.

1952 Following serious financial, legal, administrative, and technical difficulties Owen took complete control. Rubery, Owen and Co acquired British Racing Motors Ltd after a meeting of the British Racing Motor Research Trust; this would enable the BRM cars to be raced for the rest of the season[1] BRM became a division of Rubery Owen, and it alone designed and built the cars.

1953 New engines were under test by BRM but there was no intention to produce Formula racing cars[2]

1954 A new organisation was set up by Alfred Owen to take over the activities of BRM and develop a Formula One BRM car[3], the Owen Racing Organisation.

1959 BRM finally gained a Formula 1 Grand Prix victory when Jo Bonnier won the Dutch grand prix.

1962 Graham Hill became world champion driving a BRM; the Owen Organisation won the constructor's championship - the project having swallowed around £1 million by this time. Never before had an all-British team achieved so much.

1963 Rover and the BRM Formula One team joined forces to produce a gas turbine-powered coupe, which entered the 1963 24 hours of Le Mans, driven by Graham Hill and Richie Ginther. It averaged 107.8 mph and had a top speed of 142 mph. This car is n the London Science Museum.

1963 Motor Show exhibitor. Full and detailed description of the BRM Gas Turbine Car.[4]

1963 Owen was awarded a British Automobile Racing Club gold medal and the prestigious Ferodo trophy as the leading contributor to British motor racing.

1965 BRM was prepared to supply 3 litre engines to any British team so as to accomodate the change in Formula 1 Grand Prix rules[5]

1965 BRM entered a collaboration with Lotus to produce a 1600cc racing engine[6]

1981 The BRM business was auctioned[7]

The first B.R.M. car

The first of the B.R.M. Racing Cars was ready for demonstration in December, 1949, after three years of intensive effort by Raymond Mays, its originator, and Peter Berthon, its designer, aided by active and practical support from 160 firms in the automobile engineering and allied trades.

The cars were thought to have racing potential - the facts and figures concerning them hold the prospect of creditable performances. The principal points of interest were:

ENGINE. Type: 1.5-litre. No. of cylinders: 16 in a V of four groups set at an angle of 135 degrees between the banks. Bore X Stroke: 49.53 m.m. X 48.26 m.m. Maximum b.h.p.: In excess of 400. Maximum r.p.m.: 12,000.

DIMENSIONS. Wheelbase: 8 ft. 2 ins. Track: 4 ft. 4 ins. (front); 4 ft. 3 ins. (rear). Height: 2 ft. 10 ins. Weight: 2,072 lbs. (in racing trim, with driver). Fuel capacity: 50 gallons. Tyre sizes: 5.25 X 18 (front); 7.00 X 17 (rear).

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Oct 24, 1952
  2. The Times Jan 22, 1953
  3. The Times, Jan 22, 1954
  4. 1963 Motor Show p89
  5. The Times, Feb 16, 1965
  6. The Times Jan 16, 1965
  7. The Times, Saturday, Oct 17, 1981