The way it drives: the steering, the noise, the forces, the response, the drama
Doesn’t exactly know how to pipe down
What is it?
Probably the world’s most track-focused hypercar. In fact, originally the Brabham BT62 was only going to be a track car, but it turned out those wealthy early-adopters who got their names on the list first wanted to be able to drive it on the road as well. So Brabham is offering it with a road conversion kit as well. A few laps of Hyde Park Corner and I reckon they’ll come to regret that decision.
Because this is a racing car. OK, it’s not built to standard GT3 regulations, because the aim here was to build something more exotic than ‘just’ a racing car. However, Brabham has confirmed it will take the BT62 to Le Mans in the GTE class in 2022.
At its core sits a tubular spaceframe steel chassis. No carbon tub. Mounted low behind the cockpit there’s a 5.4-litre V8 developing 700bhp and 492lb ft which – and this is crucial – is naturally aspirated. Brabham says it’s their own engine. It won’t be, but nor is it an off-the-shelf road car motor. Rumour suggests it started life as a Ford, but it’s been worked on extensively to suit the needs of this car. It’s mated to a six-speed Holinger sequential gearbox with pneumatic actuation and all the power is channelled to the rear wheels. There’s full motorsport ABS and traction control, a 125-litre fuel cell with quick-fill connectors, carbon Kevlar wheel housings, built-in air jacks and Michelin slick and wet weather tyres are included.
The brakes are full carbon/carbon, by Brembo, with a similar disc compound to F1 apparently. They need to have 450 degrees of temperature before they even begin to operate properly. The suspension is double wishbone all round, pushrod actuated. The whole lot is wrapped up in carbon: everything from the floor to the barge boards, wing, diffuser, splitter and all body panels.
And because it doesn’t have to meet a minimum weight, it’s light. Brabham says 972kg dry, which would equate to something around 1,100kg with liquids and fuel. But it’ll still drive upside down because at 200kmh (125mph) it develops 1,200kg of downforce. At 300kmh (186mph), that’s up to 1,600kg of pressure. The McLaren Senna tops out at 800kg at 155mph, and we’re led to believe the forthcoming Senna GT-R tops out at 1,000kg.
What gives the Brabham name pedigree is the history – Sir Jack was not only a three time F1 world champion, but also founded the Brabham racing team that went on to win 35 races. His sons, Geoff and David, have both won Le Mans, and it’s David who’s the force behind the BT62.
70 cars will be built in total – one for each year from 1948 when Sir Jack started racing, to 2018, when the car was announced. That’s an arbitrary sort of anniversary that makes you think they calculated the sales they thought the market could sustain and worked out the link after. No matter, the BT62 is here and for £1 million, plus tax, plus options, plus £150,000 if you want the road-legalised package, it could be yours.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
Judged solely on its track communication and ability, the Brabham BT62 is an awesome machine. And what other way is there to judge it? No-one is going to pretend that this will be other than a deeply flawed road car because that was never part of its original design brief. But on track it’s an absolute ripper: a car with massive downforce and grip that feels exploitable because of its accuracy and precision. It’s razor sharp without ever being nervy or distracted.
But it’s the engine that takes it one step beyond, makes its closest rival not the McLaren Senna arguably, but perhaps a Group C Le Mans car from the late Eighties. A Jaguar XJR-9, Mazda 767 or Sauber C9. That’s the feeling 700bhp of naturally aspirated V8 delivers. Compared to the Senna? Not as well finished inside, less sophisticated, but for drama, rawness and viscerality, the Brabham has it licked.
I’d been concerned the BT62 would struggle to find a niche, that it wouldn’t have a role or position in the hypercar market despite wearing the Brabham name. But it does simply because it’s different to anything a mainstream manufacturer could even conceive of doing in this day and age. In many ways it’s a throwback, but isn’t nostalgia great?