Although I never had the pleasure of seeing Jack Brabham actually race, I was fortunate that in his later life I met him numerous times and was lucky enough to interview him at various motorsport functions several times, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is the Donald Bradman of Australian motor racing.
He won the Formula One world championship in 1959, 1960 and 1966, and in 1962 he established his own Brabham marque with fellow Australian Ron Tauranac, which in the 1960s became the largest manufacturer of custom racing cars in the world. In 1966, Jack Brabham became the first – and still, the only – man to win the Formula One world championship driving one of his own cars.
So, in May 2018, I along with many others was pretty excited when it was announced that Jack Brabham’s youngest son David, and Australian Investor Group, Fusion Capital had combined to form Brabham Automotive and build the BT62 track only supercar at the old Holden Factory in Elizabeth, South Australia.
I then became even more excited when in February 2019, Brabham Automotive went to the Bathurst 12 Hour race to perform demo runs with the new BT62, but after only 20 minutes on the circuit they broke the lap record when with V8 Supercar driver Luke Youlden at the wheel, set an unofficial record time of 1:58.694. To put that time into perspective, Walkinshaw Andretti United driver Chaz Mostert holds the current V8 Supercar lap record of 2:03.3732 in the 2021 Bathurst 1000 and Jenson Button holds the unofficial lap record of 1m48.8s, when he was doing demo laps in a McLaren F1 car 2011 Bathurst 1000.
Reportedly priced around A$1.8 million, the BT62 utilisedsa mid-mounted 5.4 litre Ford Coyote V8 engine which produces 522 kW and 667 Nm, with a six-speed sequential transmission, weighing only 1100kg, is rear wheel drive and delivers amazing performance. In 2021, a heavier and slightly less powerful BT63 GT2 was released and competed in various events winning a round of the GT2 European Series at Italy’s Misano World Circuit.
So, I like so many others were hoping for this venture to be a success, however only a few cars have actually been built and there were rumours that at one stage Brabham Automotive were looking at building a cheaper road use model to generate more sales. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition.
Consequently, it was disappointing to recently read that the Brabham BT62R, probably Australia’s only real locally built supercar will be no more following a split between Brabham Group Limited and Fusion Capital, the funders of the project.
According to a Fusion Group Statement, “Ultimately, the strategic direction of both groups did not align – that happens,” and “Powertrains are evolving and the opportunity to challenge the mainstream OEMs has never been greater. What we have created provides the perfect platform for the future.”
While David Brabham, a director of Brabham Group Limited said, “While it is regrettable that our relationship with Fusion Capital has come to an end, the collaboration helped further evolve ‘Brabham’ to a new and exciting future,” and “With the brand licence for automotive ended, it opens the doors for future business ventures in motorsport, automotive and heritage sectors”.
To be honest, I’m not sure what all that means and whether we’ll ever see another BT62R, which would be a pity as from all reports it’s an amazing car, although for A$1.8 million it would certainly want to be.
This article on American website motor1.com looks at the announcement and the Brabham BT62R.
If you’d like I minute 58.69 seconds of a driving masterclass in the BT62, click the link below to see Luke Youlden’s unofficial record drive around Mt Panorama.