A Brabham Formula 1 car with grand prix-winning pedigree in the hands of racing legend Jacky Ickx is the million dollar must-have from Bonhams' upcoming Amelia Island auction in the USA on 7th March.
It was 50 years ago this coming September when the Repco Brabham-Cosworth BT26A lined up on pole for the start of the 1969 Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport Park. Ickx recorded a flag-to-flag victory while its sister car driven by Jack Brabham finished second.
It was a good result in a year of good results for Ickx and the pretty and effective 3.0-litre Brabham. As well as the win in Canada, Ickx – soon to swap F1 for endurance racing and go down in history as six times winner of Le Mans – brought BT26A chassis number three home second in Mexico in 1969, third in France, fifth in Holland and sixth in Spain, as well as winning the non-Championship Formula 1 Oulton Park Gold Cup race in the UK. It was enough to secure the Belgian ace runner-up spot (to champion Jackie Stewart) in the 1969 Drivers’ Championship.
A masterclass of space-frame construction from Australian race car designer Ron Tauranac, the car in the auction actually first appeared a year earlier, in 1968, as the follow-up to the World Championship-winning BT24. Like that car, the new BT26 quickly impressed not just for speed but for forgiving handling, assisted by those aerodynamic front wings.
The car’s potential was immediately shown by another F1 legend to have driven this car, Jochen Rindt. He raced it as the Repco V8-powered BT26 in four races towards the end of the 1968 season. The charismatic Austrian showed the car’s speed by putting it on pole at its debut but was thwarted by the Repco engine’s lack of reliability. For 1969 a Cosworth DFV V8 would fix that.
It is in this Ford-Cosworth powered 1969 BT26A form that the car exists today, looking absolutely smashing and in full running order. Bonhams has put a price guide of £840,000-1.1m on it. For such a significant F1 car so closely allied to two of racing’s greats – Jacky Ickx and, in his last full season before his posthumous World Championship, Jochen Rindt – this beauty of a Brabham is sure to be fought over when it crosses the block at the Bonhams auction at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club.