BRM P160

The forgotten Dutch BRM P160 design

Unraced 1970 - 1979

When I was doing some research on the BRM P142 wing car, i uncovered that there was another BRM wing car. The Das brothers penned this design in 1973; it is why I call it the forgotten Dutch BRM P160 design. BRM used that car several years, as well there is no type number known for the design. Sadly, I am unable to uncover the complete story. Though as with the Phoenix Grand Prix story, I will share the info I could gather from several sources and put them in one story.

Before I can move to the penned car, there is some need for background information. Perhaps you are known with the Das brothers. Robbert and Rudolf (sadly passed away in 2020) were twin-brothers born in Haarlem in 1929. In the 1950s, the brothers started to create their well-known architectural design though mostly their design focused on the future. The brothers were more futurologists. They came with a lot of solutions we should use these days, though which we don’t.

To be honest the story of the forgotten BRM P160 design is strange, and I can’t place it completely. There are two stories going about the design. One story states that they just came up with the design and knocked on the factory doors of BRM. The other stories goes that the brothers, because of their work, were asked by the BRM management to design a new F1 car for them, based on futuristic features. Which resulted in the Delta-wing concept car. I wasn’t able to confirm nor to deny the stories. To be honest it is frustrating.

What the story may be in the early stages it, it is not the only part of the story that has two stories itself. To continue, the brothers came up with the Dutch BRM P160 design in 1973. What immediately stands out is the triangle geometry the design is based on; as well, the delta wing stands out. The structure of the wing supported the lead of the airflow towards the ascending flat bottom. It was another concept for the ground-effect. Lotus is well known for the skirt-design.

I believe you can understand the design for yourself. However, the story goes that the brothers were in speaking terms with Mike Pilbeam, or at least were in contact. Between 1972 and 1974, Mike Pilbeam was chief engineer for BRM and in charge of chassis design and build. It would make sense if BRM asked someone to design them a new design, in this case the Dutch BRM P160. Though the stories go that Mike Pilbeam was not interested in the design of the Das brothers. The other stories goes that Mike Pilbeam eventually thanked for the designs. As BRM was working on the P201. You would say story covered, it was just rejected.

Here we go again, I contacted Mike Pilbeam about this Dutch BRM P160 design, while he reacted very enthusiastic on the concept design the Das brothers penned, I send him the design as you all already saw before in Twitter and Facebook, he could not recall an design similar to this one. Mike told me that he was working at that period on the BRM P201 which would compete from 1974 onwards the ill faded BRM P207 appeared on stage. Could it originated from an earlier stage? Perhaps after the P142 the team abandoned the concept?

Therefore, I contacted the website, which host the website of Robbert Das. Awaiting for a reply I contacted Neil Bettridge who was heavily involved with the last BRM F1 car, the P230. Just to see if he had any information regarding the Dutch BRM P160 design. He could not recall such design in 1978/1979 when he was with BRM.  There was only one lead left.

Eventually I got a reply from stichting Maritime Arty & Design. They were so kind to forward my questions to Robbert Das. I really appreciate this. The answer I received raised some more questions. Sadly, Robbert could not remember what the reason was to come up with the BRM design back then.

According to Robbert the design was more a sketch. If it was mentioned to be published in one of the DAS books the design would be without the notes on the sketch itself. It did however answer a couple of questions. The biggest question that popped up is “Where for was the car designed”.  I tried to uncover some more information. By digging into my Dutch autosport magazines and my personal archive. No new information was uncovered.

The Dutch BRM P160 design, or the Dutch BRM Concept car is one of these stories It seems I’m unable to uncover the complete story. Due to its complicity, due to the age of the concept, as well due to the lack of media coverage. Whatever the reason may be, it is still an awesome design! I’m glad I came across this little gem.

If you’re interested, a few years ago I covered the story about BRM’s last Formula one car that never entered an official Formula One Grand Prix weekend. The BRM P230. With the help of Neil Bettridge.
Story can be found here.