Design at BRE
While some of the cars Brock designed at BRE are lesser known projects, they are in his estimation, far more important in terms of new ideas in aerodynamics and pure aesthetics.
The BRE Hino Samurai was a sensation. In 1967 it was the first ever GT car seen to sport a movable rear wing! (this was 20 years before Ferrari appeared with its famed F40, which was considered “advanced” for its time) . When the Samurai first arrived in Japan for the GT race at Fuji Speedway, the transporter was met by throngs of press reporters. The scene during tech was out of a Hollywood movie with TV cameras and lights everywhere. Brock had obtained the services of racing enthusiast Toshiro Mifune (the Cary Grant of Japan) to be BRE’s honorary team manager for the race. Mifune had just completed his role as a Japanese industrialist (Honda) with a new car to race on the European GP circuit in the John Frankenhiemer epic “Grand Prix” .
The Samurai might have had a long career and been a world beater had not Hino’s president died just as the car was completed. The company’s tumultuous takeover by Toyota shelved the Hino project. Toyota was impressed however and BRE’s work with Hino led to the construction of the visionary Toyota JP6. The JP6 was a brilliant combination of body and chassis design. Brock chose Trevor Harris and Bruce Burness to design and fabricate the chassis. It featured a revolutionary suspension geometry that enabled the tires to contact the ground with minimal tire scrub. The body was designed so that as the car’s speed increased the body’s movable aerodynamic devices would push down on the chassis giving greater adhesion. These were revolutionary ideas in 1967.
Due to Toyota’s sudden and unexpected decision to transfer their race program over to Shelby American, Toyota abruptly took possession of their assets at BRE, including the semi-completed JP6. Brock was concerned as he knew no one else would understand the relationship between the body and the chassis that Harris and Brock had worked on so closely. Unfortunately the worst scenario occurred… Toyota’s engineers, with no idea of what the car might do on the track, finished the car in whatever manner they saw fit, creating some serious instability problems and it was destroyed in their first test in Japan.
Suffering from lackluster sales, British Leyland’s (Triumph) US offices, under the direction of their Director of Motorsports, W.R. “Kas” Kastner, commissioned Brock to design them a new body for their existing TR 250. The BRE prototype, called the TR 250K (for Kastner) raced at Sebring in ‘67 and could have been a real contender for the hot US sports car market had it gone into production. Unfortunately as BRE was a US company, the well accepted prototype suffered from a “not invented here” syndrome back in very conservative England. Instead of buying the design, British Leyland decided to do a re-design and produce a shoddy reproduction known as the Triumph TR7. The car failed and the company went bankrupt. The American and British press, knowing of the TR 250K’s origins wrote glowing articles at the time speculating on how if the original TR 250K had gone into production it likely would have saved the company.
No matter what the project, whether it be cars, branding or marketing… design and powerful graphics have always been part of Brock’s philosophy for success. That distinctive BRE “look” has been held in such high regard that team clothing and apparel from those heady days is still in demand and magazines still include the BRE 510s in their lists of best race car graphics ever.
With the introduction of the BRE website, BRE is making available for the first time, reprints of photos from our archives and reissuing several of those landmark designs in apparel and other products for the pleasure of racing enthusiasts and collectors of period memorabilia.
At the same time, one of the most rewarding projects of late has been the opportunity for Brock to refine his original vision of the Cobra Daytona Coupe, leveraging 21st century technology.
The opportunity to create a contemporary version of Brock’s original Daytona Cobra Coupe came about when Jimmy Price of Superformance in South Africa approached Brock with an offer he couldn’t refuse. Check out the detailed story here.