Sir John Arthur “Jack” Brabham was a legendary three-time champion Formula 1 driver, and, in the rarest of accomplishments in racing history, he remains the only driver to have won the F1 drivers’ championship in a car of his own design and make. Ever. To say that he was, also, a talented engineer is a vast understatement. In addition to his stellar run as a helmsman on the track, taking his first two F1 drivers’ championships in 1959 and 1960, followed by the record-holding win in 1966, pictured below, Sir Jack went on to win back-to-back Constructors’ championships in 1966 and 1967. No F1 driver, before or since his reign, has ever done that. Makers just aren’t drivers, and vice versa. Of all the records in the colorful history of F1, Sir Jack’s is likely to stand forever.
The Founder Of The Racing And Manufacturing Dynasty, Big Jack Brabham, Takes The Cup: Sir Jack on the podium after his triumphal F1 run at Nurburgring, Germany in August 1966, in the history-making Constructors’ champion car, the BT19.
It is most apt, then, that Sir Jack’s accomplished racing driver son, David, under the auspices of his Anglo-Australian company Brabham Automotive, has just kicked off the limited production run of seventy $1.3 million BT62 Brabham “track” supercars earlier this year. The BT62 lives up to every hard-fought molecule of its racing DNA, and to the racing heritage of its author. With its tricked-out, custom-sculpted 700-horse V8 and a dry weight of just 2142 lbs., not to mention the car’s brawny 2645 pounds of downforce, the BT62 rockets from 62mph to 124 mph (100-200 kilometers per hour) in a mind-boggling 4.79 seconds.
A BT62 Eats The Track: At the 2018 Rally Ypres, in Ypres, Belgium, last June.
All aspiring Steve McQueens who have the good fortune to purchase a BT62 will note: Pay attention to your abdominal-crunches and strap yourselves well into your seats in this baby. The longitudinal G-forces clock in at 3.5, as do the lateral Gs.
As ever, the question of whether the beast of the track can be made street legal is, in the case of the BT62, quite a jolly one whose answer runs along the lines of whether you, like Mike Tyson’s cameo character in The Hangover, would actually feel up to having a pet tiger in the house. Basically, the answer is yes, you can have the car made legal.
Adding To The Legend: Sir Jack Clocks Another Victory in the Brabham BT19 at the Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort, Holland, 24 July 1966.
But the process does come with a few hoops through which one must jump. For an extra $200K or thereabouts, the new BT62 owner can, at the English factory, have the car fixed. Through a second, ordinary, governmental process, the car can then receive a set of English plates, valid in whatever country of residence for as long as that country tolerates a set of foreign plates, usually, a year. At the end of that year, he or she must ship the car back to the UK, have it checked and re-plated, and then ship it back to their country of choice for another year of presumably careful street-legal driving. Rinse and repeat.
The question of whether any Brabham enthusiast in his or her right mind would or should want the car for the pizza and six-pack run remains an open one. The feel of a BT62 springs from and of the track. The car is untamed. It is made to handle like a race car. One has to learn how to drive the thing, to say nothing of driving it well enough to be able, as an F1 driver would, to turn the demanding architecture and quirks of the car’s extreme performance parameters into the driver’s own second nature. To scale all that performance and the skills needed to handle it down to the street, among the millions of cars and drivers who cannot and do not do anything the way this car and driver would, seems risky at best. Why not let the tiger out to run in the territory it knows and for which it has been bred, namely, the track? Riding the thing in the street is like keeping the gorgeous animal in jail.
All that noted, let’s quickly add that to slide up to this or that red carpet in a UK-plated Brabham BT62 will, definitely, turn heads, not that any unschooled valet who takes the car from you would be able do anything but crash it into the next available curb, bollard, wall, or the Rolls ahead of it. The first orders for the BT62 are rolling off the line now. Plates be damned, the hardened track enthusiasts will be queueing for the production run.