And just who the hell was Repco?
Replacement Parts Company was based in Melbourne but had a presence in Europe, as well the United States. Brabham had courted and promoted it since the 1950s. Now he persuaded it to build him an F1 engine.
Its basis was to be a liner-less aluminium block designed – and shelved – at great expense by GM for Oldsmobile. Melbourne’s Phil Irving of Vincent motorbike fame was tasked with converting it to competition use.
“We put him in a Croydon flat,” says Tauranac. “He would start mid-morning and work deep into the night, smoking non-stop. I had no problem with him, but he had his own ideas and wouldn’t always stick to the pre-arranged plan. In fact, [Repco’s chief engineer] Frank Hallam came to England to get the project back on track.”
The eventual ‘off-the-peg’ unit, for which Repco made pistons, rings, bearings, valve guides, gaskets, and fuel and oil lines, retained Irving’s heads – mirrored to fit either bank to ease the spares situation – its two parallel valves per cylinder actuated by a single chain-driven cam in place of the original pushrods. Its bottom end stiffened by a steel plate and carrying a flat-plane crank, it generated 285bhp at 8000rpm on Lucas mechanical fuel injection.