Not long ago we wrote about the greatest Honda racing cars of all time. That list included a legendary F1 machine powered by a stunning V12 – the RA300.
Video: John Surtees and a howling V12 Honda F1 car
Honda built its first F1 car in 1963, the RA270, but it never actually raced. The 1964 RA271, its successor, did, with only one chassis ever made, driven in just three Grands Prix by American Ronnie Bucknum. After that came the RA272, the first Japanese car to win an F1 race, with Richie Ginther at the wheel for the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix, the RA273 came along in 1966. Then, in the second half of the 1967 season, the RA300 arrived on the scene.
Without any victories in 1966 Honda was keen to prove to the world – and its star driver, 1964 F1 World Champion John Surtees – that it was still capable of building winning machines. The dream result, then, would be a win in its first race? Well despite qualifying ninth at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Surtees did exactly that. With Honda’s 1.5-litre V12 screaming away behind his ears he took the lead from Jim Clark when he hit problems on lap 60 out of 68, and finished just 0.2 seconds ahead of Jack Brabham. It was only Honda’s second F1 win, and its last until Jenson Button won the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix in the RA106.
Sadly Il Grande John passed away in 2017, but on several occasions at the Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard he was reunited with the RA300. One such occasion was in 1999, and that is what you see here. Evidently, even after 30 years since his GP victory with the car, John still knew exactly how to push that beautifully shouty Honda. What a noise, what a car, and what a man.
If this is the kind of noise that you like, then have we got an event for you! The once-in-a-lifetime Goodwood SpeedWeek presented by Mastercard will take place this October, packed with F1 teams, racing, rally and more. To find out more we've put together a handy guide.