Sure the engines were tiny and not very powerful, but this inspired chassis and suspension designers to make some major steps forward. The limited displacement, high revving V6, V8, V12 and flat 12 engines were absolute works of art and eventually produced over 150 bhp per litre.
Scoring five victories, the BRM P261 is by far the most successful of the bunch. BRM’s answer to the Lotus 25, it was even successful in the later 3-litre era.
Following a similar design pattern of a space frame covered by aluminum sheets was the Ferrari 156 ‘Aero’. This was the final six cylinder engined Ferrari F1 car before being replaced by the similar, but V8 engined 158.
The era was very much dominated by the Works BRM, Ferrari and Lotus teams and others could rarely do better than a podium finish. Some of the cars that came closest were the Brabham BT11, Cooper T66 and the Lola Mk4 Climax.
Many of these fabulous single seaters will be seen out racing again at next month’s Monaco Historic Grand Prix. For much more information on these great cars, drivers and races, we strongly recommend Mark Whitelock’s “1 1/2-litre Grand Prix Racing 1961-1965” book.
Here is a quick BRM P261 fly-by at Goodwood: