Into 1963 there were only three complete works team P578s in existence. The prototype ‘Old Faithful’ was effectively surplus to works team requirements. Italian private entrant Mimmo Dei’s Scuderia Centro Sud organisation took on the car with funding from BP Italia. She was driven by Lorenzo Bandini with distinction – 5th in the British GP, 3rd in the Mediterranean GP at Enna, qualified 3rd fastest on the front row of the grid for the German GP – before being returned to Bourne where her magnesium-elektron body panels were repainted from Italian rosso corsa – racing red – to the works team’s “dark lust. Green” livery. As a works entry the car then provided Richard Attwood with his Formula 1 race debut at Goodwood, on Easter Monday, 1964. The car was then repainted French racing blue for BP France and the veteran mayor of Vergeze, Maurice Trintignant to enjoy his Grand Prix racing swansong through that 1964 season. The price was £4,000 plus the cost of converting the engine – number ‘5622’ – to flat-plane crankshaft configuration.
In 1965 the old car was returned to rosso corsa for a last hurrah with the Scuderia Centro Sud – being driven by Masten Gregory, Roberto Bussinello, Chris Amon (at May Silverstone), Willy Mairesse and Giorgio Bassi – after which BRM chief engineer Tony Rudd negotiated its re-purchase for the Owen Racing Organisation – on sentimental grounds.
Dei wanted to return all three of his ex-works BRM P578s to the Bourne-based company – for £2,000 apiece. Tony was interested only in ‘Old Faithful’ and the other two cars’ P62 gearboxes and 1 ½-litre V8 engines – which he wanted to convert to 2-litre ‘Tasman’-cum-interim Formula 1 specification for the 1966-67 seasons.
Ultimately, ‘Old Faithful’ was re-acquired for £850, and this ico0nic Formula 1 car was then returned to works team livery and preserved at Bourne until October 22nd, 1981, when – as part of The BRM Collection – it was sold by auction at Earl’s Court during the Motorfair exhibition. It was bought by Alexander Patrick for his Patrick Collection museum in Birmingham. His winning bid was £50,000 and he explained that “As long ago as 01962 my enthusiasm for BRM was fired when Raymond Mays lectured on the subject at Oundle School” – where both Mays and BRM owner Sir Alfred Owen had been pupils, long pre-war.