Car: Brabham-Repco / Engine: V-8 Oldsmobile / Maker: Brabham / Bore X Stroke: 88.9 X 60.3 mm / Year: 1966 Capacity: 2,996 cc / Class: Formula 1 / Power: 315 bhp at 7,800 rpm / Wheelbase: 91 in Track: 56 in / Weight: 1,259 lbs / Tires: Originally 13 in front and rear were upgraded to 8×15 in the front and 10×15 in the rear
Jack Brabham never liked the 1.5-liter Formula. The beginning of the new 3-liter Formula was thought to favor Ferrari and their V12 engine but Jack Brabham and Ron Tauranac had other ideas. Their solution was to take a light spaceframe chassis and marry it to an Oldsmobile based Repco V8 engine. Repco’s was a parts supplier and manufacturer in Australia that was heavily involved with the Tasman Series. Providing modified engines for the Brabham Tasman cars they were looking for a replacement for the Climax engines that they were currently using. Oldsmobile had abandoned the all-aluminum block that they had been developing for a new Buick passenger car and this proved a good starting place for the new Repco engines.
Brabham hearing of these developments contracted Repco to provide him with some 3-liter Formula 1 engines. In the hands of ex-Cooper engine man John Judd the Repco V8 would produce 311 bhp which was less than the new Ferrari’s 360 bhp. But a race car is more than just its engine and Ron Tauranac who had been working with Brabham since his Cooper days designed a chassis that was simple yet light. The multi-tubular spaceframe was also easy to fix after the inevitable accident. A big advantage for the new car was that it could go the distance on 35 gallons.
Brabham, after early season problems came in to his own in the middle races, scoring victories at Reims, Brands Hatch, Zandvoort and the Nurburgring. Monza saw a fluke victory by the Ferrari team and Ludovico Scarfiotti. Because of the failure by any of his challengers to garner significant points, Brabham clinched his third title. Clark would return to victory at Watkins Glen with the season closer going to Surtees, now driving a Cooper. The inaugural season of the new formula was won by Brabham more as the result of solid engineering rather than technical brilliance. Thus Brabham became the first and only champion driving a car of his own manufacture.
Brabham nearly made it four titles, but the following year early-season unreliability left him playing catch-up to his team mate. Brabham eventually lost the title to Denny Hulme by just five points.