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  BRM P578      

  Article Image gallery (59) Chassis (3) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1962
Numbers built:5 (2 never raced)
Predecessor:BRM P57
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:November 30, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAt the 1959 Dutch Grand Prix, Joakim Bonnier scored a breakthrough F1 victory for BRM. It proved to be a brief spell of success as during the next two seasons, British Racing Motors were once again forced to play catch up. In 1960, BRM's first mid-engined car was no match for the dominant Coopers and a rule-change, lowering the displacement limit to just 1,500cc, left the team without a competitive engine the following season.

The BRM P57 used in 1961 was an evolution of the P48 of 1960 and used a four-cylinder engine, uncharacteristically sourced from a third party; Coventry Climax. Like the other British manufacturers, BRM were late to realise that the new-for-1961 regulations would really be implemented. As a result, the development work of what would become the BRM P56 V8 did not start until the fall of 1960. While the first unit was fitted to one of the P57 chassis for the practice of the 1961 Italian Grand Prix, the V8 was not raced until the start of 1962.

Designed by Peter Berthon, with the help of Aubrey Woods and veteran engineer Armherst Villiers, and further developed by Tony Rudd, the all-new V8 was a conventional design. Constructed entirely from aluminium, the 90° unit featured twin overhead camshafts, driven from the crankshafts by gears. Equipped with a Lucas fuel injection system, it initially produced 180 bhp, which had grown to 195 bhp by the time the P56 made its competitive debut. For some races in 1962, the P56 was equipped with very striking vertical 'stack-pipe' exhausts, which helped increase mid-range torque but were eventually abandoned as they were prone to fall off the engine, one by one.

Whereas the roots of the P57 chassis could be traced back to the front-engined Type 25, as used by Bonnier to score that maiden victory, a brand new chassis was laid down to house the new V8. Nevertheless referred to as the P578, and at times even simply as the P57, the new car featured a triangulated, multi-tubular spaceframe. As it no longer had to support a big 'four', this was constructed from lighter gauge steel tubing. BRM was a classic Grand Prix manufacturer as it built all major components in-house. This included the steering rack, which, accordingly, formed part of the chassis and added rigidity to the front end.

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  Article Image gallery (59) Chassis (3) Specifications