Martin Brundle's final F1 car heads to auction

The Jordan 196 F1 car might not have won races, but chassis #3 was the car Brundle jumped into immediately after a huge crash in Australia

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Formula 1 can be a cruel mistress at times. Many talented drivers are evicted from the sport before they reach the heights of success. Today Martin Brundle is best known for his F1 punditry, but back in his heyday he was mixing it with the finest drivers on the grid. He was missing from the 1997 season after not being able to find an F1 seat when the proverbial music stopped, making this 1996 Jordan 196 his last car. It certainly wasn’t quick, but it does have a story to tell.

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Going under the hammer at RM Sotheby’s Paris 2019 auction, the Peugeot powered Jordan 196 chassis no.3 is actually the team’s ‘spare car’ that Brundle ended up driving for much of his last season. After a horrific crash at the Australian Grand Prix where his car tumbled to destruction, Martin clambered out of the wreckage, and instead of heading to the nearest hospital, he jumped in the spare car and continued to race. This is that car.

Some say that the fact Brundle walked away from that crash without a scratch is something of a miracle, and while certainly fortunate, it has more to do with science than a divine power. Regulations mandating high collars on the cockpit, stipulated heights for structures insure there’s enough clearance for the exposed driver should the car roll, and a carbon fibre safety cell all serve to protect. Often F1 crashes look dramatic as the car breaks apart, but they're designed to do so as it dissipates the energy of impacts. We’re sure Martin owed Jordan engineers a beer or two after collecting those few unintended air miles.

The Jordan 196 wasn’t very competitive in period with Brundle only managing a few points finishes at the Nürburgring, Montreal and Silverstone. This example does retain its original Peugeot V10 engine, something that other surviving cars powered by the French marque rarely have.

Presented in a distinctive gold livery - of which was only on display for one season with Jordan - this well preserved snapshot of Martin Brundle’s career would be a welcome addition to any F1 collection.

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