Ed’s let­ter

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - ALEX I N WO O D

IT CAME FIRST AS A BREATHY WHISPER, DE­LIV­ERED DOWN THE PHONE LINE FROM THE MOST UN­LIKELY OF PLACES. “IT’S BUILT IN AUSTRALIA…”. FOR THE LONG­EST TIME I DIDN’T BE­LIEVE IT. AF­TER ALL, IT SEEMED SO UN­LIKELY. IF YOU’RE GO­ING TO DE­SIGN, ENGI­NEER AND BUILD A

su­per­car from scratch ca­pa­ble of ri­valling the best from Fer­rari and Mclaren, as the Brabham BT62 claims to do, why would you man­u­fac­ture it in Australia? We don’t even build Com­modores and Fal­cons any­more, let alone multi-mil­lion-dollar high­per­for­mance ma­chines tar­geted at the world stage.

Australia is cer­tainly ca­pa­ble of cre­at­ing such a car – our abil­ity to engi­neer and in­no­vate is world class – but surely Europe or even Amer­ica would make more sense? At this strato­spheric end of the mar­ket, that’s where the ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise lies.

And yet there it was, con­firmed in black and white. A sin­gle line at the bot­tom of an em­bar­goed press re­lease, sent ex­clu­sively to Wheels weeks ahead of the Brabham’s global re­veal, that read:

“…based in Ade­laide, South Australia, where the man­u­fac­ture of the BT62 will also take place in a 15,000sqm fa­cil­ity.”

It means the green and gold wedge that graces our cover truly is Australia’s su­per­car. The fact it wears a Brabham badge, a name in­trin­sic to Aussie rac­ing his­tory, adds to a sense of Aussie pride.

In re­al­ity it’s an An­glo-aus­tralian pro­ject, with heavy tech­ni­cal in­put from the UK (our full fea­ture on the car is on p44) but what’s most in­cred­i­ble is how, in this age of in­for­ma­tion over­load and so­cial me­dia, Brabham man­aged to keep the BT62 a to­tal se­cret. Its launch caught nearly ev­ery­one by sur­prise, de­spite be­ing in de­vel­op­ment for more than two years and tested on sev­eral Aus­tralian tracks, with David Brabham (amongst oth­ers) at the wheel.

The Brabham Au­to­mo­tive busi­ness it­self is some­thing of a cu­rios­ity. A joint ven­ture be­tween Ade­laide-based ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist group Fu­sion Cap­i­tal and David Brabham (Man­ag­ing Direc­tor)

it ex­udes a con­fi­dence, pro­fes­sion­al­ism and shrewd­ness that, on the sur­face at least, sets it apart from past low-vol­ume Aussie cars. There’s plenty of ex­pe­ri­enced heads amongst the ranks too. Christian Reynolds, who heads up the Aus­tralian busi­ness, has worked at com­pa­nies as di­verse as BMW, Lo­tus, Tom Walkin­shaw Rac­ing and Tesla, and the car’s en­gi­neer­ing head, Paul Birch, has a C.V that in­cludes stints at Lo­tus and more re­cently at Cater­ham as the head of pow­er­train and elec­tron­ics.

Brabham him­self is closely in­volved and cru­cially, the BT62 is no pie-in-the-sky con­cept. A hand­ful of cars have al­ready been built with de­liv­er­ies be­gin­ning later this year. Work has even be­gun on a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion ve­hi­cle (a third is also in the pipe­line), there are aspirations to build a road-go­ing ver­sion and Brabham seems hell bent on rac­ing the car at Le Mans. The whole busi­ness feels well thought-out and cal­cu­lated, and im­por­tantly, well­funded, with no reliance on government support.

“The fi­nances aren’t a pres­sure point for us,” Reynolds told me. “We’re in a com­fort­able place.”

The fact the BT62 costs nearly $2 mil­lion dol­lars and that most of us will never see one, let alone drive one, doesn’t mat­ter. What’s im­por­tant here is what the Brabham rep­re­sents. At a time when Australia is still reel­ing from the wound left by the clo­sure of man­u­fac­tur­ing, the BT62 is a green shoot of hope de­liv­ered in the most un­ex­pected way. Yes it’s low vol­ume and so high-end that it’s largely ir­rel­e­vant, but as an ex­pres­sion of what’s pos­si­ble in our own back­yard, it’s some­thing to be proud of. And ev­ery one shipped around the world will wear a plaque de­tail­ing its place of ori­gin: Ade­laide, South Australia, Australia.

The BT62 is an un­ex­pected green shoot of hope. An ex­pres­sion of what’s pos­si­ble in our own back­yard

HERO, HOME GROWN

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