Tue, 21st Feb 2006 0:00

The Centaur

 
  Lot 29
 
Lot 29 - 1968 Brabham BT31 Single Seater

1968 Brabham BT31 Single Seater

Sold for £108,000

(including buyers premium)


Lot details
Registration No: N/A
Chassis No: BT31/01
Mot Expiry: N/A

The only one of its kind ever made, this Brabham BT 31 was designed specifically for triple Formula 1 World Champion Jack Brabham to contest the 1969 Tasman Race Series. Engineered by his business partner Ron Tauranac, the resultant spaceframe chassis was notable for its close triangulation and detachable engine bay cross-member. Discernibly smaller than some of its BT-series predecessors, the unique racer nevertheless played host to a 2.5 litre SOHC Repco V8 engine and Hewland FT200 five-speed gearbox.

Plagued by a series of unfortunate logistical delays, chassis BT31 / 01 came perilously close to missing the Tasman series entirely. Debuting at the final Sandown Park round, its immediate 'straight out of the box' competitiveness must have delighted Brabham as much as it frustrated his competitors. Finishing third behind Chris Amon's Ferrari Dino V6 and Jochen Rindt's Lotus 49T on what was effectively its shakedown run, the BT31 cantered to an easy victory next time out at the Bathurst 100 on April 7th 1969. A measure of its dominance in this post-Tasman event, the Brabham took four and a half seconds off the circuit's outright lap record.

With contemporary Formula 1 still very much in its 'tea tray' phase, the bespoke single-seater was used as something of a mobile testbed to assess the efficiency of various wings and aerofoils. Further employed to collate valuable data on the chassis loads imposed by the new generation of ultra-wide low-profile tyres, the feedback it provided added weight to the argument for the BT33, the first Brabham monocoque.

Sold to Repco in 1970, the BT31 took pride of place on their stand at that year's Tokyo Trade Fair. Subsequently brought back to Australia, it enjoyed a brief career as a corporate foyer exhibit before passing into the hands of loyal employee Rodway Wolfe. Mollycoddled by him for the next seventeen years, the Brabham remained essentially untouched until acquired by Antipodean racing legend Bib Stillwell in 1988. A four-time Australian Gold Star Formula 1 Champion (three of his titles coming courtesy of Brabham single-seaters), Stillwell lost little time returning the BT31 to the track.

Campaigned extensively across a variety of historic events, it remained a favourite plaything until his death in 1999. Purchased by the previous keeper not long afterwards, it entered the present ownership some three years ago. Given the car's undoubted performance potential, the vendor candidly admits that he does not feel comfortable with the restricted movement imposed on his 6'0" plus frame by the snug cockpit. Only piloting it himself on a couple of occasions, its most recent outing was with Jim Robinson at the wheel during last summer's Shelsley Walsh Centenary hillclimb meeting.

Finished in blue with contrasting yellow wings / centre stripe, chassis BT31/01 is described by the seller as being in excellent condition with regard to its engine, Hewland FT gearbox, electrical equipment, chassis, bodywork, paintwork and wheels / tyres. Currently fitted with a 3 litre Repco V8 unit, it comes with a quantity of spares including the following:

Original 2.5 litre Tasman engine - rebuilt
8 Injection intake trumpets for above
Spare exhaust system
2 Brake discs
2 Brake belts
Correct race Seat
15 Sets of spare gear ratios
Pair Hillclimb / Race silencers new
Bracket for the above
Circuit brake light
Circuit brake pads
Spare set of wheels (plus July 2005 tyres)
Spare 10mm plugs
Nose cone moulds
Screen mould
Pair rear wing end plates
Spare distributor (complete)
Spare distributor (cap)
Pair second-hand drive donuts

The first Australian ever to become World Champion and the first racing driver to win the championship in a car of his own manufacture, Jack Brabham has long since booked his place in the history books. A small but fascinating part of the Brabham tale, this 'one-off' single-seater has great potential in terms of both race eligibility and competitiveness. Offered for sale with history file, FIA papers and MSA competition log book.

SALEROOM NOTICE

PLEASE NOTE WE HAVE BEEN INFORMED BY CHRISTOPHER TATE (SERIES DIRECTOR) THAT "THIS BRABHAM BT31 SPACE-FRAME WITH THE 3 LITRE REPCO ENGINE WOULD BE VERY ELIGIBLE INDEED FOR OUR GP MASTERS SERIES". HE ALSO ADDS THAT IT "COULD BE VERY COMPETITIVE AT PAU, DIJON AND CERTAINLY WOULD BE VERY WELCOME AT THE REMARKABLE ONE-OFF DATE WE HAVE - BEING THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF GRAND PRIX EVENTS - IN SUPPORT OF THE FRENCH F1 GP THIS JULY 15/16 AT MAGNY COURS. OUR FULL CALENDAR AND ALL THE REGULATIONS ARE ON THE SERIES WEBSITE". www.themastersseries.com
 

All successful bids must be paid in full by midday the day after the auction at the latest.

You can collect your new pride and joy from our venue until 1pm the day following the sale or our partners are on hand to help arrange safe transportation:

               

Auction: The Centaur, Tue, 21st Feb 2006

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