1965 Brabham BT 8 Sports Racer

With big engines, they will introduce you to religion at the top end of fifth gear

The Brabham BT 8 is one of the most desirable of the Coventry Climax-engined sports cars of the 1960s. Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac laid down nine chassis for the 1964 season, just two in 1965, and only one chassis in 1966. The car described here, from ’65, is the best known and most successful of all, chassis SC-2-65, which was first supplied to Bill Kay in the U.S. for Peter Revson to drive.

Originally fitted with a 2.0-liter Coventry Climax engine, SC-2-65 was entered by Kay Racing in the SCCA Championship. A 2.7-liter Coventry Climax (430-17-1287) was substituted from BS-2-65 when the car was returned to the UK. In period, BT 8s were powered by various other engines, including the BRM and Oldsmobile V8s.

The 2.7-liter four-cylinder with dry sump and separate oil tank was rebuilt by Tony Mantle while in BS-2-65, with a new cylinder block, steel crankshaft, Carrillo rods and Omega pistons, resulting in a 10.5:1 compression ratio. It ran with 55 Webers jetted and choked for mid-range power.

The engine was last serviced in 2001 with bearings, valves, valve springs and piston rings all renewed. Car and engine subsequently finished second overall at Silverstone in the British GP support race. The Hewland HD5 five-speed gearbox, correct as per the FIA papers, has been recently checked over by specialist JP Race and the transmission has only been used once since.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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