Chassis Number: 258
Described by Sir Stirling Moss as the ‘best-handling and most competitive front-engined Grand Prix car that I ever had the privilege of driving’, the BRM P25 finally gave the British Formula One cognoscenti a first glimpse of British single seater victory with this very car.
The fact that 258 remains at all as the sole surviving example of a P25 is something to be celebrated indeed. Like the ten other factory team cars that were to be dismantled to free up components for the new rear-engined Project 48s in the winter of 1959, 258 was only saved thanks to a directive from BRM head office in Staffordshire on the express wishes of long term patron and Chairman, Sir Alfred Owen who ordered, ‘ensure that you save the Dutch Grand Prix winner’.
Founded in 1945, as an all-British industrial cooperative aimed at achieving global recognition through success in grand prix racing, BRM (British Racing Motors) unleashed its first Project 15 cars in 1949. Although the company struggled with production and development issues, the BRMs showed huge potential and power, embarrassing the competition on occasion. The project was sold in 1952, when the technical regulations for the World Championship changed. Requiring a new 2.5 litre unsupercharged power unit, BRM - now owned by the Owen Organisation -developed a very simple, light, ingenious and potent 4-cylinder engine known as Project 25. A new semi-stressed skin ‘monocoque’ chassis structure was created to house this new engine and the entire project was completed at the end of 1955, emerging as the P25.
Very quickly the P25 showed itself to be a phenomenally fast front-runner, most notoriously with driver, Mike Hawthorn, behind the wheel. Able to lead races and qualify at the front of the grid, it was nevertheless unable to claim a GP victory. However, French ace, Jean Behra demonstrated what the P25 was capable of, winning two short-distance non-Championship F1 events in 1957; the Caen Grand Prix in Normandy and the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone.
Chassis 258 was completed in June 1958, as the third of the new-series ‘detachable-body’ P25s. Entrusted to works team driver Harry O’Reilly Schell, the BRM competed in both French and British grands prix that summer along with the non-qualifying Caen Grand Prix. 258 was then passed to promising new Swedish driver Joakim Bonnier who became main pilot of the BRM.
Fitted in the off season with Dunlop disc brakes, a shunt water system and modified bodywork, 1959 brought the break that BRM had been yearning for. After a long and hard dual with powerful Coopers and V6 Ferraris at the Dutch track of Zandvoort, Bonnier, in 258, secured a win for the British team, 14 years after their foundation and 11 years after the launch of their first Formula One racing car. As Motorsport magazine reported, ‘Bonnier swept into the lead and he won the race in fine style’. Other notable successes that year included fourth position at the Moroccan Grand Prix at Casablanca and fifth at the German Grand Prix.
258 has gone on to be a phenomenally successful contender in historic racing with its present owner, who has beautifully rebuilt the BRM, including refitting the original magnesium bodywork. Almost always triumphant, 258 has been a regular sight at the Goodwood Revival where it has enjoyed some titanic duals in the Richmond & Gordon Trophies race against machinery including Ferrari 246 Dinos, Maserati 250Fs and Connaughts.
This is an unrepeatable opportunity to own the only Grand Prix-winning BRM P25 and, furthermore, the only example in existence. The P25 is a veritable gem of Formula One history.
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