This Is What It Looks And Sounds Like When BRM Fires Up Its Supercharged V16 Inside An Old English Shed
Producing a forced induction 16-cylinder Formula 1 motor was a monumental feat of engineering when British Racing Motors (BRM) first did so in the early 1950s, but building three more of the legendary supercharged V16s is no less lofty a challenge today.
As you may remember from when we announced it last fall—catch up on the background of the three upcoming continuation cars here—BRM and longtime partners Hall and Hall are in the process of building three exacting continuation models of the BRM Type 15 Formula 1 car to mark the 70th anniversary of the team’s debut race at the 1951 British Grand Prix. The centerpiece of the continuations will of course be the iconic 1.5-liter supercharged V16 power plant, which can rev to 12,000rpm and produce more than 500hp from its relatively minuscule displacement.
Recreating the 36,000-piece motor has been a significant undertaking thus far, requiring comprehensive study of original drawings and parts as well as the remanufacturing of many components—including the Rolls Royce supercharger—but the team has recently passed a major milestone by getting one of the original V16s rebuilt and running on the dyno. In the case of this particular motor, this was the first time it ran in over two decades. Hall and Hall’s chief engine technician, Martin Smith, said, “We didn’t want to push it too hard on the dyno, but even so we estimate we got about 550BHP at 10,000 RPM and 2.5 psi boost—which is a huge step forward as we continue to build our experience and understanding of this astonishing engine.”
To celebrate this significant step forward in the continuation project, BRM has released a short film set in the team’s original dyno shed, embedded above. The cliché applies here better than most places—volume up. It’s also trite to call powerful cars and their motors “beasts,” but seeing the V16 spit fire like an afterburner as the headers glow to the infernal soundtrack is nothing short of monstrous. That such a hyper intricate and inherently esoteric piece of mechanical engineering can put on such an emotional display is a peak example of why we’ll always love internal combustion, and we’re excited to see this special project develop further in the coming months.