Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.
The first grand prix car with a transversely mounted twelve-cylinder engine, the 1.5 litre Honda RA271, made its debut, at the 1964 German Grand Prix. The Honda RA271 was Honda's second Formula One racing car, and its first to actually enter a race. It was developed around Honda's revolutionary F1 engine, a 1.5 L V12, at a time when V8s dominated the F1 paddock, as constructed by BRM, Climax, Ferrari and ATS. The only other major manufacturer deviating from the received V8 wisdom were Ferrari, who experimented with both V6 and flat-12 layouts, although they ultimately elected to stick with their V8. No other manufacturers were running V12s at the time. The RA271 made its race debut during the 1964 Formula One season, just one year after Honda started producing road cars, and was the first Japanese-built car ever to enter a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. The car was initially entered for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, but the car was not ready in time. The car actually competed for the first time at the German Grand Prix. As well as Honda's F1 debut, this race was also the debut for their American driver Ronnie Bucknum, and to make things even trickier the race took place on the daunting Nürburgring circuit, widely considered to be one of the most demanding in the world. Of the 24 entrants, only the fastest 22 would qualify. Bucknum was lucky to qualify as he ended the practice sessions third slowest. The two non-qualifiers were the Scirocco-Climax of Belgian driver André Pilette, which was hopelessly off the pace, and Carel Godin de Beaufort, who was killed during the session in a tragic accident at the wheel of his privately entered Porsche 718. Bucknum was some 20 seconds slower than the next slowest competitor, Giancarlo Baghetti at the wheel of a BRM, and almost a minute off the pole time of John Surtees's Ferrari. Despite a poor qualifying, Bucknum had a better race and consistently ran just outside the top ten throughout the race, ahead of many of the independent Lotus and BRM entrants. Despite a spin late in the race, allowing Richie Ginther's BRM to pass him, the reliability of the Honda allowed him to finish 13th as many of his rivals broke down (or crashed in Peter Revson's case), four laps behind winner Surtees. The team then missed the Austrian Grand Prix before returning for the Italian Grand Prix at the iconic Autodromo Nazionale Monza. Bucknum's qualifying was greatly improved as he qualified 10th, ahead of the Brabham of double world champion Jack Brabham and comfortably clear of the mark required to qualify for the race as one of the 20 fastest drivers. He was only three seconds shy of Surtees, who was the pole sitter once again, and this marked a huge improvement for the Japanese team. Although a poor start left him down in 16th, he quickly climbed through the field and ran as high as 7th before a brake failure forced him out of the race on lap 13. His ability to keep pace with the works BRM and Brabham cars in this race gave great hope for the future of Honda in F1. The next race was the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. As there were only 19 entrants, there was no threat of failing to qualify, and Bucknum was well within three seconds of Jim Clark's pole time for Lotus. The high quality of the field, however, meant that he was down in 14th place, although he did outqualify 1961 world champion Phil Hill, now driving for Cooper. He once again ran the race just outside the top ten, fighting for long periods with the Lotuses of Walt Hansgen (works) and Mike Hailwood (RPR) and Richie Ginther's BRM. However, on lap 51 a cylinder head gasket in one of the Honda's twelve cylinders failed, and Bucknum was out of the race. This was to be the end of Honda's debut season, as they did not travel to the final race in Mexico City. The RA271 was replaced for 1965 by the RA272, so its best result remains 13th place at its debut race in Germany. Its best grid place was Bucknum's 10th place at Monza.