Lost body buck for UK’s first F1 car, the BRM V16 Mark 1, found in boat shed

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British Racing Motors (BRM), which is constructing three continuation BRM V16 Mark 1 Grand Prix cars, says it has found the original body buck for the Mark 1 P15 V16. The buck was made in 1949 for the manufacture of the UK’s first Formula 1 car, six of which were unveiled to the public in December 1949 at RAF Folkingham.

As the design of the car evolved through the early 50s, the original buck was stashed away by George Gray, the panel beater tasked with constructing the first bodies, and it lay forgotten in the roof of his boathouse for decades.

The whereabouts of the buck had long been a question of debate, but through a combination of research, luck, diligence and discussions with historians, journalists, collectors and those with long memories, the current BRM team weas able to track it down with the help of long-time racer and Aston Martin collector Geoffrey Marsh.

“With the discovery of the original body buck, we now have the opportunity to produce a car to the original shape and specification of Britain’s very first Formula 1 car,” said Paul Owen, grandson of Sir Alfred Owen (MD of the Rubery Owen Group and original backer of the BRM project in the 40s and 50s). “This car has not been seen in this form for over 70 years, and it is a privilege for the Owen family to be in a position to bring it to life once again.”

Rick Hall, the former BRM F1 team engineer who will oversee the construction of the ‘new’ BRM V16, added, “It is extremely satisfying to have finally tracked down the original Type 15 jig, which will enable us to craft the car in the form that it was presented to the world in 1949.

“I believe that the simplicity and beautiful lines of this car will only really be appreciated in the flesh. Very few people alive today will have had the opportunity to see this car before. Looking back at the original drawings, we were surprised at the amount of technical changes that were made to the car in period. We are relishing the challenge to bring it back to life once again.”

After the confirmation of the discovery, historic racing car preparation and sales specialists Hall & Hall and BRM approached Richard Mille, founder of the eponymously named luxury watch company, to ask if he would be interested in building his already commissioned BRM to the original specifications. An avid fan of the marque, Mille jumped at the opportunity. “It would be a privilege to see this car built in its original form, and a fantastic addition to my existing BRM collection,” he said.

Work has already commenced on building Mille’s chassis, which represents the second of three ‘new’ V16 Mark 1s, and is expected to be completed early in 2023. With one car commissioned by the Owen family, and with the latest commission from Richard Mille, there is one final Mark 1 V16 chassis yet to be allocated.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently, he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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