BRM had by 1965 an effective 1.5 liter V8 engine in the form of its P56. The year 1966 would see the debut of the 3 liter maximum capacity Formula
Tony Rudd, then chief designer at BRM, decided to use the highly effective combustion chamber of the P56 for the new 3 liter engine. This meant that he had to use 16 cylinders in order to get the new engine up to 3 liters.
Sixteen cylinders sounded scary, but Tony Rudd was encouraged to go that way by several factors:
- His knowledge of aircraft engines, where 16 cylinders were occasionally used
- Coventry Climax, BRM's main competitor in the 1.5 liter formula, was planning a flat 16 cylinder engine for 1965
- BRM were planing to develop Rudd's H16 and a V12 in parallel and then use the better engine
Rudd wanted the new engine to act as part of the chassis. The engine should be capable to handle all the chassis loads and stresses. The best form to achieve that is an engine in the shape of a cube.
BRM decided to flatten the P56 V8 engine, place another flat V8 on top of that and couple the two crankshafts with a gear system. Thus the P75 H16 engine was born.
In theory the idea was great:
-They were going into 1966 with a proven and highly effective combustion chamber
- Targeted at 440 Bhp, the H16 had massive power potential – more than a V8 or V12
- The H16 form gave the engine the ability to handle chassis loads
The power target of 440 Bhp was not reached in 1966. In fact not even 400 Bhp was achieved. Another big problem was getting cooling water circulate through both engine halves.
Initial mass of the engine was 252 kg with its transmission weighing at 54 kg.
In 1966 two teams were using the H16, BRM and Lotus, with the latter team usually faring better than BRM.
Clark won with his Lotus 43 in the US GP at Watkins Glen in1966, giving the BRM H16 its first and only Grand Prix victory.
Winter of 1966 saw the H16 undergo a development program to enhance its reliability. A new crankshaft was developed to solve the vibration problems. The biggest problem at BRM then were that the engineers were distracted by the large number of diverse projects the company was involved in.
A lighter version of the H16 was also produced reaching its targeted mass of 181 kg, but not its targeted power output of 500 bhp.
For 1968, The H16 engine would had 4 valves per cylinder and a modified magnesium block. It was tested, but never raced.
The P101 V12 engine was coming along nicely. Its development would require way less resources than turning the H16 into an effective and reliable engine. Thus the H16 program was stopped, and BRM would focus on the V12 from 1968 onwards.
Please use the feedback link below for comments and suggestions.