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A Brabham Motor Racing Developments entry in the 1990 and 1991 Formula 1 World Championships, raced by David Brabham and Martin Brundle

The final Brabham Formula 1 car driven by a member of the Brabham family, a name woven into the fabric of the sport

Fastidiously restored to its 1990 Judd V8 specification – an exhaustive project undertaken in consultation with the car’s original designer

Accompanied by a wealth of Brabham Formula 1 archive material including blueprints, set-up sheets, invoices, travel itineraries and team correspondence

Eligible for an increasing number of historic motorsport series and events including the Goodwood Members’ Meeting, Gulf Historic and Ignition GP

Chassis no. 59-5

+44 20 3621 2923

What is it?

This is a Brabham BT59, the history-steeped team’s challenger for the 1990 and 1991 Formula 1 World Championships. Designed by the decorated Argentinian engineer Sergio Rinland with support from Hans Fouche, the BT59 boasted a striking minimalistic body which clung to the strong carbon-fibre monocoque and narrow 3.5-litre Judd EV V8 engine like a skin-tight dress.

Could you tell us about this particular BT59’s period history?

As its original Brabham Motor Racing Developments Ltd. plaque denotes, this BT59 is chassis number five, which was earmarked for David Brabham to drive during the 1990 season. David is the youngest son of Jack Brabham, the late Australian who founded the eponymous Brabham team and famously became the first and only driver to win a Formula 1 World Championship driving a self-built car. Significantly, this BT59 was the final Brabham Formula 1 car to be driven by a member of the dyed-in-the-wool racing family.

Chassis number five was drafted into competitive action towards the end of the season, contesting the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril, the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka and the Australian Grand Prix at Adelaide, David Brabham's home race.

For 1991, Brabham switched from Judd V8 to Yamaha V12 power, updating the nomenclature of its car with a ‘Y’ suffix. The BT59Y was employed by the team for the first two races of the season: the United States Grand Prix at Phoenix and the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. A young Martin Brundle took the wheel of this chassis for both rounds, finishing in 11th and 12th position respectively.

And in what condition is the car today?

Today, this Brabham BT59 is in exquisite condition and ready to be returned to the racetrack. That’s thanks to an exhaustive restoration undertaken by Steven Costello, the US-based engineer with a wealth of historic Formula 1 expertise and Pebble Beach-winning restorations under his belt. 

Consulting closely with this Brabham’s original designer Sergio Rinland, Costello left no stone unturned on his quest not only to restore chassis number five to its original 1990 Judd V8-powered specification, but also to bring it up to modern technological and safety standards. Ease and confidence of use was the goal from the outset – this BT59 was restored with the intention for somebody to drive and enjoy it as originally intended. 

Every last component was inspected and either restored with a view to preserving the originality or replaced with a view to making it safer and easier to replace. The carbon-fibre monocoque chassis, for example, was stripped and crack tested, before being mated to a bespoke modern fuel cell built to the same dimensions of the original design but with longer-lasting and safer materials. Similarly, there is also a new MOTEC ECU and dash readout, operating by more simple and modern electronics.

Furthermore, Costello was able to acquire a wealth of Brabham Formula 1 archive material relating to the 1990 season and, more specifically, this very chassis. These include technical blueprints, period set-up sheets, starting instructions, invoices, travel itineraries and team correspondence. These invaluable documents are the proverbial cherry on the cake for this BT59 and a provide a fascinating snapshot of one of Formula 1’s most exciting periods.

Which events can I enter with this Formula 1 car?

The world of 1990s historic Formula 1 is a rapidly-growing arena in the collector car world. As such, there is an increasing number of events to which this Brabham BT59 would be welcomed with open arms. Peter Auto will stage demonstrations at four of its acclaimed events in 2023. In addition to demonstrations at the world-famous Goodwood Members’ Meeting and Festival of Speed weekends, there have been a number of non-competitive outings at select modern Formula 1 Grands Prix. Races for these iconic cars are scheduled for the Gulf Historic, poised to take place in November in Dubai. And there is of course Ignition GP, a new initiative founded by Jonathan Kennard specifically for Formula 1 cars built between 1989 and 1997.

We think it’s worth noting that in a demonstration of famous Formula 1 cars during the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch in 2020, David Brabham was reunited with this BT59 for the first time since the 1990 season. You’ll spy both David’s and Sergio Rinland’s signatures either side of the cockpit today.

A word from the specialist

“Howling eight- and ten-cylinder engines pumping out in excess of 600HP. Do-it-yourself manual gearchanges. Immortal cigarette-lavished liveries. And drivers who were as brazen on the track as they were charismatic off it. In our opinion, the late 1980s and early 1990s were peak Formula 1. And this beautiful Brabham BT59 was right in the thick of it, sharing a number of the world’s greatest motorsport stages with the likes of Ayrton Senna, Gerhard Berger, Alain Prost and Jean Alesi.”

Max Girardo

Sell it to me in a sentence?

Built by an illustrious brand, driven by a decorated driver from the very same family as its maker and fastidiously restored with a view to bringing it up to modern technological and safety standards, chassis number five is a fantastic car with which to enter the burgeoning world of 1990s historic Formula 1.”

Price Upon Application

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