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Top Gear Tunnel Run

Ever wondered what a V16 engine sounds like in a tunnel? Here’s your chance

In this instalment of Top Gear’s Tunnel Run, we send Stig down Catesby in the BRM P15

Published: 10 May 2024
10 minutes 20 seconds

Welcome to one of the most complicated engines ever made. The long nose of BRM’s fabulous P15 hides a supercharged powerhouse forged in an era when Formula One was all flat caps and flying goggles.

Nothing flat about this engine, of course. It’s a mere 1.5-litres in capacity, about what you’d find under the bonnet of your average supermini. Unlike your average supermini, this one packs in sixteen cylinders and a downscaled supercharger from Merlin-engined Spitfire and Lancaster Bombers. The supercharger alone had 124 components.

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The engine took BRM several years to build, and when it finally landed its first punch in 1950, it did so to the sound of 600bhp and a 12,000rpm rev limit. Though not the most successful F1 car, it was so lairy that even the supernatural talents of Sir Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio found it a handful; it’d spin its wheels in fifth gear. At 140mph.

This one we’ve got here is a brand-new P15, built to the exact spec as the original post-war racer using thousands of original blueprints and hand-drawn diagrams.

Complicated, yes. But quite simply, this is one of the loudest engines ever made. Sit back, turn it up loud and listen to The Stig send this V16 down a really long tunnel.

Car: BRM P15
Engine: 1.5-litre supercharged V16
Power: 600bhp
Price: POA
Top speed: N/A
Noise: Broke the meter

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Photography: Mark Riccioni

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