BRABHAM’S BACK!

BRABHAM RE­TURNS TO PUT ADE­LAIDE ON THE GLOBAL STAGE WITH A $1.8M 522KW FER­RARI KILLER

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents -

Full de­tails on Australia’s Fer­rari-bait­ing su­per­car

THIS is the he Brabham BT62. It is not a con­cept car. It is not a hy­po­thet­i­cal hilr en­der in­gdiyearsf from pro duct ion.d iI It is here, now, as a fully formed su­per­car cus­tomers will take de­liv­ery of be­fore the year is out. And the best bit? It’s built right here in Australia, by Aus­tralians.

Here are the head­line num­bers: 5.4-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated V8, 522kw at 7400rpm, 667Nm at 6200rpm, 972kg dry. It is an all-out at­tack on the track-only toys from the likes of Fer­rari’s FXX pro­gram, and even the Mclaren Senna GTR, and has the es­teem of a mar­que etched into For­mula 1 le­gend.

Brabham’s re-emer­gence has been shrouded in se­crecy since the fam­ily won a court bat­tle to pro­tect the name in early 2013. The BT62 pro­ject has been on the boil be­hind closed doors for the last two years. Brabham is one of the most evoca­tive names in mo­tor­sport, with in­trin­sic Aus­tralian DNA, and its re­turn to the au­to­mo­tive land­scape has been ex­tremely cal­cu­lated in ex­e­cu­tion. Man­ag­ing it is respected rac­ing driver – and youngest son of Sir Jack – David Brabham, and a team of busi­ness­peo­ple split be­tween Australia and the United King­dom.

Christian Reynolds is one such busi­ness­man. He’s an ex-pat work­ing in Ade­laide as both a Brabham Au­to­mo­tive direc­tor and rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Fu­sion Cap­i­tal Part­ners, a pri­vate eq­uity firm that has backed the ini­tial phase of Brabham’s re­turn.

“[Fu­sion Cap­i­tal was] look­ing at the op­por­tu­nity in this mar­ket in late 2015. We were fairly well through ma­ture con­cept plan­ning, and through mu­tual con­tacts we were in­tro­duced to David. It snow­balled pretty quickly i kl f from that h point. iw We started d work­ing ki through h h how we could align what we saw in the mar­ket with the re­vival of the Brabham brand, and set out how we would work to­gether to de­liver a pro­gram like the BT62.”

Brabham tells Wheels: “When we first met we started to talk about vi­sions. I said, ‘I’m ei­ther in­volved or I’m not.’ For me this was all hands on deck. If we’re pro­duc­ing a high-per­for­mance ve­hi­cle it’s got to have Brabham DNA in it.”

Reynolds is the man over­see­ing the 15,000sqm pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity in an undis­closed Ade­laide sub­urb, keep­ing en­gi­neer­ing and op­er­a­tions teams on sched­ule. His em­ploy­ment his­tory reads like a who’s who of light­weight per­for­mance ex­perts and dis­rup­tive busi­ness pioneers in­clud­ing Lo­tus and Tesla.

Be­fore Brabham Au­to­mo­tive, Reynolds was man­ag­ing direc­tor of ZF’S Aus­tralian arm, with a di­rect line into Holden through the axle and chas­sis work un­der­taken by the firm for Gen­eral Mo­tors. His ex­po­sure to the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try in South Australia primed him to lever­age our ex­ist­ing ex­per­tise and in­fra­struc­ture, and to bring the right peo­ple in from lo­cal OEMS, third­party sup­pli­ers and even Su­per­cars race teams.

“The sup­ply base and the ca­pa­bil­ity has al­ways been here to de­velop ad­vanced prod­uct. In both ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing and ad­vanced en­gi­neer­ing it’s ac­tu­ally quite a log­i­cal choice to use that in­stalled ca­pac­ity and sup­ply base.”

Brabham agrees. “It’s a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity with

man­u­fac­tur­ing hav­ing left these great shores. There’s a bit of a void with a lot of well-trained, tal­ented engi­neers and peo­ple. A pro­ject like this can tap into that,” he says.

On pa­per there’s no im­me­di­ate link be­tween Australia’s his­tory of build­ing large sedans and a high-end track-fo­cused su­per­car car­ry­ing a A$1.8m price tag. And the Brabham couldn’t be fur­ther from a Com­modore or Fal­con.

Composite ma­te­ri­als fea­ture heav­ily, in­clud­ing ex­ten­sive use of car­bon­fi­bre for the main body panels, the floor and barge boards, and all aero­dy­namic ad­di­tions. Carbon-kevlar is used for the wheel houses, and it is pure race­car ev­ery­where else. Dou­blewish­bones with ad­justable pushrod-ac­tu­ated Oh­lins dampers hang off each cor­ner. There’s an air-jack­ing sys­tem, dry-break fuel fillers in the rear quar­ter win­dows and on-board teleme­try data ac­qui­si­tion. Stop­ping power comes from enor­mous carbon-on­car­bon six-pis­ton Brembo brakes – 380mm front, 355mm rear. The gear­box is an Aus­tralian-made, air­shifted Hollinger se­quen­tial with six for­ward ra­tios that sends drive to the rear wheels from the dry-sumped Brabham-branded 5387cc quad-cam V8.

Pressed for de­tails about the en­gine, Reynolds is frus­trat­ingly re­luc­tant to share. He is in­stead keen to point out the BT62’S pow­er­plant is vastly dif­fer­ent from any­thing avail­able off the shelf, and is Brabham in per­son­al­ity as much as in spec.

A lit­tle dig­ging sug­gests the base en­gine is sourced from Ford, and most closely re­lated to the 5.2-litre ‘Voodoo’ V8 with flat­plane crank­shaft found in the Shelby GT350 and GT350R, it­self a de­vel­op­ment of the 5.0-litre ‘Coy­ote’ V8 that pow­ers the reg­u­lar Mus­tang.

“We en­gaged an OEM and talked to them about a per­son­alised de­vel­op­ment pro­gram,” says Reynolds. “They were sup­port­ive at that level, but we took the en­gine and heav­ily cus­tomised it to suit the at­tributes of our ve­hi­cle and agreed with the OEM that the en­gi­neer­ing work is such the en­gine can be called a Brabham based on its de­par­ture from any­thing they do in any sec­tor of au­to­mo­tive.

“We’ve cus­tomised and re-en­gi­neered it to be very, very spe­cific to this ve­hi­cle. The de­sign spec­i­fi­ca­tions are un­der con­trol of Brabham. You can­not go out and pro­cure an en­gine of this con­fig­u­ra­tion.”

Brabham adds they didn’t sim­ply grab the first V8 they could find. “There’s a strat­egy be­hind it,” he says. “We’ve got rac­ing in our sites. A lot of the ar­chi­tec­ture we’ve done around the car and the en­gine is based around where we want to go with that.”

Push for clar­i­fi­ca­tion about which cat­e­gory the BT62 will com­pete in and Brabham’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives are cagey, though the of­fi­cial line is, “Le Mans is in our sites.”

A fo­cus on the race­track means aero­dy­namic per­for­mance is paramount. Sculpted body­work scoops air around the pur­pose-built chas­sis, ap­ply­ing down­force via blades and ca­nards and an ad­justable dual-ele­ment rear wing op­ti­mised us­ing com­pu­ta­tional fluid dy­nam­ics.

Again, more se­crets sur­round the source of the car’s emo­tive de­sign. Reynolds cites the support of a ‘well-respected in­ter­na­tional part­ner’, but there’s no namecheck­ing when pressed for specifics.

El­e­ments of its form re­sem­ble themes seen in other high-per­for­mance ve­hi­cles from Mclaren and even Lam­borgh­ini that have a fo­cus on air man­age­ment, though as a whole the BT62 is far from de­riv­a­tive.

“What you see in the fin­ished ve­hi­cle is the bat­tle

"I HAD I'M EI­THER IN­VOLVED OR I'M NOT', IT WAS ALL HANDS ON DECK. THE CAR HAS TO HAVE BRABHAM DNA IN IT" David Brabham

bet be­tween form and func­tion,” says Reynolds. “We’re re-e re-es­tab­lish­ing the mar­que, so there are sub­tleties in the de­sign in terms of the tail­lights, door depth to sill pos po­si­tion, that will con­tinue to iden­tify brand ve­hi­cles goi go­ing for­ward.”

“It “has an iden­tity of its own, which is re­ally imp im­por­tant,” says Brabham. “Those de­sign cues will flow through the next vari­ant of cars so you’ve got that com com­mon thread and it be­comes ‘that’s a Brabham’.”

But B track-only su­per­cars are not the only goal for Brabham Au­to­mo­tive. The BT62 is a means of esta es­tab­lish­ing cred­i­bil­ity. Beyond rac­ing as the next step, the even­tual tar­get is street-le­gal road cars.

“Aspi­ra­tionally “we un­der­stand where we want to end up, and we’ve en­tered this ven­ture with a long-term bus busi­ness plan,” says Reynolds. “It’s fair to say we have to e earn the right to grow, and we be­lieve BT62 is the righ right prod­uct to re-es­tab­lish the brand and give peo­ple con con­fi­dence in the va­lid­ity of the com­pany.

“The “au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try will see a growth in what we re­fer to as A-to-a ve­hi­cles. Whether that be on the road or out on track. We’ve de­vel­oped a plat­form stru struc­ture that will lead us to­ward com­pe­ti­tion.”

“We “have the team in place that has en­gi­neered the firs first ve­hi­cle, we are in the ma­ture con­cept phase for the fol­low-on ve­hi­cle, and spec­i­fi­ca­tion ready on the third thir gen­er­a­tion af­ter that,” says Reynolds.

P Presently, Brabham Au­to­mo­tive op­er­a­tions are di­vided div into two main camps, with a core team in Australia Aus re­spon­si­ble for de­liv­ery of the phys­i­cal pro­ject, pro and a crew in the UK charged with tech­ni­cal en­gi­neer­ing eng and sales.

M Mys­tery sur­rounds the ex­act scale of the fledg­ling en­ter­prise ent in terms of per­son­nel and the depth of tal­ent tale at its dis­posal. Specifics are be­ing kept be­hind a cur­tain, cu for now, but there is a clear roadmap laid out beyond BT62’S launch and the peo­ple to de­liver it, ac­cord­ing acc to the com­pany.

““We don’t re­ally want to say how many peo­ple are in the t busi­ness. We’ll dis­close how big we are later on for you to un­der­stand the true horse­power be­hind this ven­ture,” says Reynolds. “We’ve gone two and a half hal years be­ing very com­fort­able not telling peo­ple ev­ery­thing eve that we’ve done and who we are, and that’s part par of our con­tin­ued plan go­ing for­ward.”

T The de­vel­op­ment pro­gram has seen the car tested at sev­er­als Aussie lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing Phillip Is­land Grand Gra Prix Cir­cuit where it’s un­der­stood the brief was to achie­vea a 1:22.0 – an out­right record – mak­ing it nine sec­onds sec per lap quicker than a V8 Su­per­car. Brabham won’t won say whether that tar­get has been met. Not be­cause bec they didn’t time it, but be­cause it rep­re­sents yet another ace tucked up its sleeve for drip-feed­ing.

T The Brabham BT62 is the most am­bi­tious, most ex­pen­sive exp pro­duc­tion car this coun­try has ever pro­duced, pro and most likely the fastest. Whether it can de­liver del on the per­for­mance prom­ise, and suc­cess­fully com­mand com its phe­nom­e­nal ask­ing price against brands with wit es­tab­lished cre­den­tials re­mains to be seen, but on pa­per, pap this is no flash in the pan. Brabham is back.

IT ISN’T A REN­DER­ING. CUS­TOMERS WILL TAKE DE­LIV­ERY LATER THIS YEAR

SEV­ERAL DRIV­ERS HAVE TESTED THE BT62 IN SE­CRET ON AUSSIE TRACKS, IN­CLUD­ING SIR JACK’S SON, DAVID

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.