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If a racing car could disappoint an entire nation, that was the dramatic fate of Britain’s BRM. Conceived in 1946 as a world-beating Formula 1 car, the BRM V16 was built by the nation’s leading auto companies and suppliers to put Britain at the forefront in Grand Prix racing. Yet it failed so publicly and sensationally that the V16 BRM has gone down in history as one of motor racing’s most spectacular flops. Award-winning author Karl Ludvigsen brings to life the travails and triumphs of this exotic Formula 1 car, whose amazing engine was the first in history to rev above 10,000 rpm — with a shrill scream from its exhausts that captivated all who saw, heard and drove her.
A bright beacon of hope and promise for Britain’s motor-sports enthusiasts during the drab and rationed post-war years was their knowledge that the country’s leading auto companies and suppliers were banding together to create an amazing new car that promised to put Britain at the forefront in Grand Prix racing.
Declaring its intent with its name, British Racing Motor or BRM, the car was a veritable wonder machine shot through with fascinating and revolutionary features. Yet it failed so publicly and sensationally that the V16 BRM has gone down in history as one of motor racing’s most spectacular flops.
Few cars of any kind have a more exotic and exciting reputation among enthusiasts than the first BRM, a 16-cylinder wonder machine that was a bright beacon of promise in Britain’s drab post-war years. Heralded as a certain race winner and backed by the nation’s motor industry, exploiting the seized secrets of the 1930s Germans, the British Racing Motors bid fair to put the UK at the top of the Grand Prix tree. It did come good — producing more than 500 horsepower from 1.5 litres — but only after the Formula 1 for which it was built had expired. From the files of the Ludvigsen Library come more than 150 rare photos of the BRM, one of the handsomest, indeed sexiest, racing cars of all time. Related articles and ephemera round out the story of a bold but ultimately misguided British venture that delivered too much too late.
"Ludvigsen's attention to detail is on every page. Densely written and exhaustively researched, 'BRM V16' includes engine drawings, images, and a lively sense of the time and people who took on the daunting challenge.." – Sports Car Market
"... a detailed and authoritative account of an important venture in British motor racing history. Recommended." – VSCC Bulletin
"Here is an in-depth, fascinating account of the fabled BRM V16, the first post-war Grand Prix car conceived and created in Great Britain." – Road & Track
"Although I have read this whole sad saga many times in the last fifty years I don’t think anyone has brought it all to the printed page better than Karl Ludvigsen. There’s plenty of technical stuff too, lots of drawings and photos but most of all he gets into the hearts and minds of those concerned." – The Motor Cycling Club
"This is an excellent outline of one of Britain’s glorious failures, particularly if your interest is in the machinery." – Motor Sport
"Excellent story from a master writer." - totalkitcar.com
"The BRM V16 was a triumph of British engineering that ultimately ended in disappointment. Thank goodness its entire history has now been recorded so brilliantly." – Classic Car Mart
"If you have ever wondered about the complete story beyond the romanticism of the BRM V16, this book gives it to you. It will leave you with a what-might-have-been feeling as any success the car had was too little, too late." – autoracinghistory.com
"Illustrated by 160 excellent b&w photos and some fascinating technical drawings, Ludvigsen’s book details the painstaking and often frustrating technical development of the cars, their drivers like Wharton, Parnell and Collins, and the ‘joys’ of running them in historic racing now. A fascinating story and well worth a look." – New Zealand Classic Car
"This gives the whole story of the BRM project from concept through development and testing to the last race of the Mark II. Karl’s customary attention to technical detail is complemented by a wide range of period photographs, many of them taken during the original build, so every component is depicted." – The Automobile
"The V16 story is liberally illustrated with some excellent period photography, some of which is published for the first time. Good value." – AutoItalia
"If you have an interest in motor racing or unique engine configurations then Mr Ludvigsen's awesome effort on BRM V16 is one for the wish list." – Classic Car Mart
"This in-depth study of the car is packed with technical and historical detail and from the author's enviable archive come more than 150 period photographs to complement the many drawings and other illustrations." – 4 Small Wheels
"This very readable volume, modestly priced, yet fully illustrated in black and white throughout with many photos not seen before, amounts to a 'pocket history' of the machine that Stirling Moss famously said was the worst car he'd ever driven. Anyone who has seen the car, particularly for the first time, will want to read this book." – Speedscene
"An entertaining and fascinating read that captures the hopes, disappointments and the sheer determination of the under-funded BRM team." – Hertfordshire Countryside