As loved as the great BRM V16 was (and still is), the fact remains that it didn’t really ever realise its great potential. Stirling Moss is even said to have written to Raymond Mays at one point, informing him that he no longer wished to drive the car due to its unreliability. To be fair, BRM did eventually make the screaming V16 reliable, but by then the formula it had been designed for had been dropped.
BRM’s response was to follow-up the fantastically complicated 16-potter with something altogether more simple and, hopefully, more reliable. The result was the 2.5 litre, four cylinder P25. First raced in 1955, it did suffer some early development woes which were eventually ironed out, although by then the advent of the rear-engined Cooper T51 signalled the end of its competitive hopes. So, despite following a more conventional path than it had with the V16, the net result with the P25 was eerily similar.
The success of the rear-engined Cooper caused some of the BRM P25 to be converted to P48s, which also had the motor mounted aft of the pilot. As a result very few remain as P25s and the one you see here is arguably the most significant of all.
Keen motorsport historians will be aware of the famous photograph of Stirling Moss pushing a P25 at Reims in 1959 and the remarkable images of Hans Herrmann at the 1959 Avus GP in which he was ejected from a P25 (see below). Both events featured the same car, and it’s the one you can see here.
After Herr Herrmann’s spectacular accident the car was somewhat second hand. The late Tom Wheatcroft acquired the remaining parts in the mid-Sixties and a new frame was made by the factory, although according to current owner Barrie Baxter it appears as though much of the original frame is still there. By the late-Sixties the car had been rebuilt using the motor Ron Flockhart had used at Monaco in 1958.
It was then placed in the famous Donington Park Grand Prix Collection (which GRR visited recently) where it stayed until it was acquired a few years ago by Mr Baxter. Since then it’s been used at Monaco and Goodwood, where we jumped at the chance to roll it into our temporary photographic studio and make it a Goodwood Great.
Photography by Antony Fraser