Monday, June 13, 2011

The Brabham BT8

Here's a few BT8s. The BT8 is the successor to the BT5 sportscar.
There were a dozen BT8s. All seem to have survived and are well documented, except the first one, BT8 SC-1-64 which had a huge prang in its first year. A new SC-1-64 was built which is, I guess, a replica. They all looked like the ones above except one although it left the factory as a standard 2.0 litre Coventry Climax engined BT8. This is SC-9-64. It was bought new by the Prince Motor Company. It was rebodied and hit the tracks as a Prince - the Prince R380.

It is very famous in Japan. I wonder if its Brabham roots are recalled in that history.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Given that there are millions of Japanese who think the replica Eiffel Tower they have is the real one and that the Nanking Massacre did not happen I doubt that they acknowledge the Brabham beginnings for this car.

Anonymous said...

The Prince R380 looks like a replica of the Ferrari 250 LM

Art said...

That's an interesting yarn!
Considering that the R380 was powered by a 6 cylinder inline engine that is some 210mm longer than a Coventry Climax then it was more than a "re-body".
Try an all new chassis to accommodate the longer engine, larger Hewland transaxle transmission, wider track and longer wheel base.
Prince may well have bought SC-9-64 and evaluated it but any ideas of that being the basis for the five (yes 5) R380's and six R380-II's is absurd.
Where did that particular bit of BS come from, some self serving history of Brabham?

Anonymous said...

From Classic cars.com forum
Interestingly, the ORIGINAL chassis / body of the Prince R380 was a Brabham sports racing car that Prince bought in. They installed the GR8 engine and went Toyota chasing with it. They subsequently made their own versions of the chassis / body / monocoque. The R380 / R380-ll / R381 / R382 & R383 were a very interesting and successful series of race cars, and little known outside Japan.

Anonymous said...

From early datsun.com
In 1964 The Prince Motor Company had entered their new Prince Skyline GT to compete in the Second Japanese Grand Prix. Prince had gone to a lot of trouble preparing their Skyline race car were beaten by a privately entered Porsche 904.
vowed to go one better next year. To do this they would need their own purpose-built prototype, and that was what they set out to build.
Shinichiro Sakurai was the head of engineering at Prince. Prince gave Sakurai the go-ahead to design and build a racing prototype to compete in the 1965 Japanese Grand Prix. This was all uncharted waters for Prince, and for Japan as a whole, as no one had the expertise to design and build a prototype race car. Sakurai overcame this problem by buying a bare Brabham BT8 chassis on which to base the car, and then set about designing and building the body and mechanicals to fit to the chassis.. The car was given the designation R-380.
A 1966 Japanese Grand Prix was announced, and finally Prince had a race to take their new toy to. Prince won the race outright, and came second as well.
The R380 was redesigned in 1967 and became the R380-II. After the Prince Motor Company merged with Nissan in 1966 the Prince name was dropped and all previous Prince models became Nissans, including the R380-II, which would be known as the Nissan R380-II.

Anonymous said...

From Japanese Nostalgia Cars
the S54B Skyline debuted at the Japan Grand Prix in 1964. That day, the Skylines won the Touring Car class easily, but was beaten to the flag by the Porsche 904, a purebred mid-engined tarmac racer. Dr Sakurai, head of engineering at Prince Motors, then took steps to ensure that Prince would have a purebred racing car of its own, to wrest back glory at this most prestigous of all Japanese motorsport events.
And so work began. Using a Brabham BT82 chassis (which was itself a 2 litre mid engined circuit racer), Sakurai-san’s team developed a slinky, low slung chassis with a bespoke alloy-panelled body. It was powered by a modified version of the Skyline’s 130hp 2.0L straight six: a 200hp, DOHC-headed racing motor, mid-mounted with a Hewland transmission behind it.

Anonymous said...

From ClassicZcars
Original Prince R380 started as a Brabham BT8 chassis No.SC 9 1964. Records from 1993,(See here (http://www.oldracingcars.com/Projects/Brabham-BT8.htm))indicate it is still retained by the original purchaser (Now Nissan?)
I believe the very successful trip to Surfers Paradise in 1969 by Nissan/Datsun with the R380 MkIII was the only foray outside japan for any of the R380 series.

skin.side.down said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
skin.side.down said...

From Nissan USA itself:
Built upon a Brabham BT8 mid-engine chassis, the R380 used unique mechanics and aerodynamic bodywork. Shinichiro Sakurai, head of Prince Motors engineering, developed a new engine loosely based on the Skyline GT engine originally developed for the Gloria sedan. Known as the GR-8, the 1996 cubic centimeter, inline six-cylinder engine produced 200-horsepower and was mated to a 5-speed racing gearbox.