Page 1 of 2 Next >> Seeking an advantage over his Cosworth engined rivals, Brabham supremo Bernie Ecclestone signed an exclusive deal with Alfa Romeo to use their three-litre, 12-cylinder engine for the 1976 season. The Ferrari engine of a similar design had just clinched both titles, so Ecclestone's surprising choice did have some reason behind it. What also helped was that the engines would be supplied free of charge and that it would most certainly appeal to Brabham's Italian sponsor Martini & Rossi. Arranging the deal would turn out to be the easiest part of the Brabham and Alfa Romeo partnership.
Although new to Formula 1, the twelve cylinder engine had already served three seasons in the back of the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 sports racers, culminating in a dominant victory in the 1975 World Championship. Following the example set by Ferrari a few years earlier, Alfa Romeo's Carlo Chiti opted to use a 180 V-angle for the 12-cylinder engine. The horizontally opposed configuration naturally resulted in a very low centre of gravity. Like all its peers, Alfa's flat 12 featured twin overhead camshafts, actuating four valves per cylinder. The 1975 results had shown the engine to be able to produce around 500 bhp very reliably.
Responsible for the rest of the car was Gordon Murray, whose previous Brabham designs had been increasingly competitive. The Cosworth engined BT44 had won three Grands Prix in 1975 and was used as a basis for the new BT45. In line with the new engine, the tub was slightly lower and wider than that of its predecessor. The biggest change was the need for pontoon extensions at the rear to carry part of the weight of the engine and the suspension loads. The BT44B's unusual semi-in-board and push-rod actuated front suspension was carried over. A Hewland sourced gearbox, with five and later six forward ratios, completed the package. Page 1 of 2 Next >>