Well this is a nasty looking piece of kit right here. Greetings to the new Brabham BT62. Yes, it is (sadly) a track-only car, but what a car it is. The last time something with “Black” Jack Brabham’s name on it turned up on a track, it was a bad day for the opposition. If the BT62 holds true to form, and you drive a Ferrari FXX or a McLaren P1 or Senna, you’re right to be worried.
To get you up to speed here, and I feel sorry for those that have not heard the stories, Jack Brabham was an Australian racer and race car builder from the mid-century. First guy to race a mid-engined car at the Indy 500? Jack Brabham. First (and so far only) guy to win a grand prix championship in a car he built himself? Jack Brabham. First Australian GP winner? Jack Brabham. First Australian GP World Champion? Jack Brabham. Guy who snapped a throttle cable at Zandvoort, drove off to the side, and used wire from a fence to build a hand throttle and finish the race? Jack Brabham.
He got the nickname “Black” Jack because of his racing style: fast, uncompromising, declarative, and if you dropped your guard an inch, Brabham was through. Try to mess him up on the track, and he’d be on you like a leather sack filled with buckshot; a Blackjack. He also had the best motto: “When the green flag drops, the bullshit stops.” In other words, you can talk a big game all you want, and you’re car can look as impressive as they come sitting in the pits, but when the race starts, all that hot air is done away with and then we’ll know who is the quickest.
And the brand new BT62? How does that fare? Dunno yet, haven’t seen it run. But the specs? Hoo boy!
No Nonsense Nomenclature
This is all David Brabham’s deal. He would be Jack’s son, former racer, Le Mans winner, current and future Australian, and, like his pop, a nice guy (unless you cross him on the track). The Brabham BT62 – the B stands for Brabham and the T for Ron Tauranac, Jack’s engine builder/chassis designer/chief engineer from back in the day – boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 720 horsepower per ton, a dry weight of just 2,142 lbs., and is propelled by a Brabham naturally-aspirated 5.4-liter V8.
That’s right, they are even building their own V8 plant in-house. You think this is a kit car? Slow and stupid, ain’t ya?
Power & Performance
Like all Brabhams before it, the BT62 is designed from the ground up to be simple, robust, reliable, flexible, and fast. A complete “clean sheet of paper” design, the Brabham BT62 is mid-engined, with the power driving the rear wheels via a rear-mounted dog-box transmission. Like I said, the BT62 tips the scales around 2,140 lbs. (think Miata) and possesses a strong power-to-weight ratio. That Brabham-built V8 engine cranks out 700 plus horsepower and 492 ft-lb. of torque. Add to the mix the BT62’s aggressive aerodynamic package, which delivers over 2,600 lbs. of downforce, and you can see where this is heading.
If it’s heading there too fast, not to worry, the carbon/carbon disc brakes with six-piston calipers front and rear will “whoa” you up. The BT62 is shod with Michelin racing slick tires and, to make maters worse for those of you racing against it, Brabham Automotive is a technical partner with Michelin and further developing racing tires.
Of course they are not making very many of them. The Brabham BT62 will be limited to just 70 cars to celebrate the 70 years since Sir Jack Brabham (oh yeah, The Queen gave him a Knighthood a while back) launched his racing career in Australia in 1948. The first 35 cars will be liveried just like the F1 cars in that delicious green and gold paint scheme. And, as the owner of a Brabham BT62, you also gain entry into a tailored driver development and experience program to enable you to “fully exploit the performance potential of this exceptional car.”
In other words, you get driving school along with your purchase.
Speaking of: How much? Base price of £1m or 1.4 million bucks or about the same as dedicated track cars from Ferrari, McLaren, and such. First deliveries are expected later this year.
War On Everyone
The only thing I dislike about the Brabham BT62 is that you can’t hang a license plate on it. But what I really love about it is this sentence from the press materials: ” . . . the company’s ultimate goal is to see the iconic Brabham name return once again to compete on the race track, with the 24 Hours of Le Mans firmly in its sights.”
What’s that old phrase? Those who do not remember history are doomed to get beaten like a drum on the race track . . . something like that.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. His forthcoming new book The Future In Front of Me, The Past Behind Me will be available soon. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.