Formula One engine regulations weren’t always so rigid. For large chunks of the series’ 71-year history, there was a lot more freedom, leading to the creation of fantastic oddities like the British Racing Motors (BRM) V15.
It used a 135-degree V16 displacing just 1.5 litres and capable of about 600bhp when boosted by a Rolls-Royce supercharger. The P15 remains one of the strangest cars ever to race in F1, and now, work is underway to built three ‘new’ continuation examples. What you see in the video above is a dyno test of one of the original V16s, and the noise is quite something.
It’s one of the original engines which has been sat unused since being over-revved at Silverstone during BRM’s 50th Anniversary bash. “Rebuilding and re-engineering many of the original parts has proved to be a key stepping-stone as we gear up for the manufacture of three all-new power units which will be at the heart of the new project,” BRM says.
The testing was done at the dynamometer of Hall and Hall at RAF Folkingham in Lincolnshire, home to BRM in the 50s. Hall and Hall’s head engine tech Martin Smith said they “didn’t want to push it too hard,” but still managed to extract around 550bhp at 10,000rpm with 2.5 psi of boost.
The project was kicked off by the uncovering of three unused chassis numbers. The finished cars (one of which is going to John Owen, son of original BRM owner (Sir Alfred Owner) are going to be fantastically expensive, but hopefully something ordinary folk can enjoy.
Only one original P15 Mk1 survives today (seen in the video above), and while it is allowed out from time to time, it is, understandably, treated very gently. Once the continuation cars are here, we’ll be able to hear BRM’s tiny, short-stroke V16 revving its heart out for the first time in decades.