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1964 Repco Brabham-Climax BT8 Sports-Racing Prototype Chassis no. SC1-64

Estimate: US$260,000 - US$295,000
Lot 263
1964 Repco Brabham-Climax BT8 Sports-Racing Prototype
Chassis no. SC1-64

1964 Repco Brabham-Climax BT8 Sports-Racing Prototype
Chassis no. SC1-64

When Formula 1’s Australian double-World Champion Driver, Jack Brabham, left the Cooper Car Company at the end of 1961 to found his own specialist racing car company, he went into partnership with a fellow countryman – the outstanding design engineer Ron Tauranac. Between them they had produced a first prototype Formula 2 single-seater car under the initials MRD in 1961. ‘MRD’ stood for their new company ‘Motor Racing Developments Ltd’ but when they proposed putting a batch of developed Formula Junior cars into production for customer sale in 1962, it was pointed out to them that ‘MRD’ when pronounced the French way – merde – meant something quite unsaleable!

Consequently the cars were marketed under the ‘Brabham’ name, and since Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac were receiving support in kind from the Australian Repco (‘Replacement Parts’) company, they added this brand name to the title, creating the ‘Repco Brabham’ marque.

By the end of 1962 Brabham Formula Junior cars were threatening Lotus’s former supremacy within the class, while the first Formula 1 Brabham had also been launched and had scored its first World Championship points in Jack Brabham’s hands. Into 1963, the Weybridge, Surrey-based concern produced its first sports-racing Repco Brabham – the extremely pretty little BT5 as campaigned for Ian Walker Racing for Australian drivers Frank Gardner and Paul Hawkins. A second BT5 followed and then into 1964 the much-developed Repco Brabham BT8 was produced. Nine of these cars were built that first year, with another two BT8s following along for 1965 and the final example, for the prominent British John Willment Automobiles team, following in 1966.

The Brabham BT8s were immediately competitive and like all Tauranac-designed competition cars were exquisitely well-built, good mannered, structurally reliable and both easy and immensely rewarding to drive.

This particular car is a revival of the original SC1-64 which was built new for 1964 and exhibited at the BRSCC Racing Car Show in London. British former Cooper exponents Bill Knight and Arthur Owen initially campaigned it that season with a 2-liter 4-cylinder Coventry Climax FPF engine driving through a five-speed Hewland HD5 transaxle gearbox. It then passed to the well-known British racer/dealer Robs Lamplough who brought it to North America where he drove it to finish 15th in the Canadian Grand Prix race at Mosport Park on September 24, 1964. He raced it again in the LA Times Grand Prix at Riverside on October 11, finishing 16th overall, and then contested the Monterey Pacific Grand Prix at Laguna Seca on October 18.

He then sold the car less engine but with HD5 gearbox to the American girl racer Judy Kondratieff – later to be married to Formula 1 and CanAm sports car star driver Howden Ganley. In her ownership the BT8 was modified to accept a 289cid Ford V8 engine, and it was first raced in this form by driver Bart Martin at Stockton, CA, on June 12-13 1965. Subsequently, the unfortunate Bart Martin was fatally injured when the car crashed at Candlestick Park. It was completely wrecked but subsequently Judy Kondratieff-Ganley – as the last owner of record – authorized American-domiciled French ex-racing motorcyclist Phillipe de l’Espinay to recreate this beautiful sports-racing car in its original Climax 4-cylinder engined form.

A full account of the car’s revival was published in the April 1996 edition of Victory Lane magazine, written by Philippe de l’Espinay himself and listing a number of surviving original components from the original car which were used in the restoration project. By 1991 the car re-emerged in all its original glory, but with the added attraction for any Vintage racing enthusiast of a full 2490cc Coventry Climax FPF twin-cam engine installed in its rear bay.

Now as offered here this potentially extremely competition Repco Brabham-Climax BT8 is as last restored in 2001. Offered on a Bill of Sale.

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