The stunning Formula 1 cars of the early 1960s represent of one of the most evocative eras in motor sport. Technically refined and with a sound that not even the DFV can match; this was Grand Prix racing at its purest. Driven by some of the greatest names of all time such as Clark, Surtees, Hill, Stuart, Brabham and McLaren, they battled it out on the iconic and then undiluted circuits like the old Spa and the fast banking at Monza. It is easy to see why these cars still command the limelight at the most exclusive historic motor racing events today such as the Goodwood Revival and Monaco Historic Grand Prix.
In anticipation of the 1962 season, affluent American teenager Hugh Powell acquired a controlling stake in the British Formula 1 constructor Emeryson Cars. His primary aim was to secure a Formula 1 seat for his guardian, former sports car racer in North America, Tony Settember. Following a disappointing season with the existing Emeryson chassis, Settember convinced Powell to finance the creation of an entirely new car—one that would better accommodate him.
At season’s end, with most of the Emeryson team, including Paul Emery himself, all but disbanded, Settember and Powell decided to strike out on their own, rebranding the team as Scirocco-Powell and establishing their operations in a garage behind The Seven Stars pub on the Goldhawk Road in London. Fittingly, the pub’s logo was incorporated into the team badge explaining the seven stars. Their car, the Scirocco SP-1 BRM, strikingly painted in the American blue and white racing colours, made its debut at the Belgian Grand Prix.
With the assistance of former Prince Bira and Tula mechanic, Hugh Aiden-Jones and renown sportscar designer John Tojeiro, Settember, who was also a trained engineer, took charge of designing the new Formula 1 car for the 1963 season. They christened it the Scirocco. Constructed around a steel tubular spaceframe, the fuel tanks were braised in place to enhance chassis rigidity, which is why they had often been referred to as ‘Semi-Monocoque’.
The team enlisted Roy Thomas, who had cut his teeth in racing with the Checkered Flag Racing Team, to build the chassis. Roy, known for his work on the Gemini Formula Juniors in the late ’50s and early ’60s, had since started his own race engineering venture, producing the Ausper Formula Juniors. John Tojeiro provided the suspension of conventional upper front wishbones and parallel rear trailing arms and the addition of a distinctive forward facing front anti-roll bar. Settember was instrumental in the design of the new car including drawing the bodywork which was entrusted to Williams & Pritchard to build. The teams chief mechanic was Ermanno Cuoghi, who went on to be Nikki Lauda and Ferrari’s chief mechanic. All of this effort culminated at their base on the Goldhawk Road and resulted in the creation of the Scirocco SP1.
Two cars were constructed, the first SP1-1-63, this car, had a slightly more roomy cockpit tailored for Tony Settember, while the second, SP1-2-63, featuring a slimmer frame, was prepared for the teams second driver Ian Burgess. Ian had been running the Cooper driving school at Brands Hatch and was involved in organising the 1,500cc V8 engines for the team. Supplied by reigning World Champions BRM, they had hoped this would give them the upper hand they might need in their first year, but little did they know that customer BRM engines didn’t quite pack the punch of the works cars. Finally the engines were paired with 5-speed Colotti Type 34 gearboxes. Despite being painted in the American racing colours, both cars were entered under the British flag by the Scirocco-Powell team.
This car: Chassis SP-1-63
Belgian GP – Spa-Francorchamps 6th of June 1963
The 1963 Formula 1 season got off to a delayed start for Settember, SP-1-63 and the Scirocco-Powell team. Having been scheduled to participate in the Silverstone BRDC International Trophy on May 6th, reputedly with a young Pedro Rodriguez down to drive, they were forced to withdraw due to the car not being prepared in time. This recurring issue had also affected their entries for the Grand Prix de Pau and the Monaco GP earlier in the year. With SP-1-63 in the back of the Team Scirocco-Powell’s transporter, made it as far as France on its way to Monaco.
Subsequently, the team headed to the renowned Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps to unveil their own Scirocco Grand Prix car at the Belgium Grand Prix on the June 6th. Both Scirocco entries were registered, however only Settember’s car SP-1-63 made it to the circuit. Still undergoing finishing touches in the paddock after practice had already commenced, they managed to complete a few flying laps before the session came to an end.
Qualifying took place in dry conditions, but remnants of a harsh winter left patches of fresh road surface, prompting some drivers to approach the track with caution. Qualifying concluded with Hill securing Pole position in the BRM 578, followed by Gurney in the Brabham, and Mairesse in his V6 Ferrari, locking down the front row of the grid. SP-1-63 had qualified in 19th place.
Race day arrived amidst a morning of relentless rain and intermittent flashes of lightning. The closed-off roads that formed the circuit were drenched. The Grand Prix was scheduled to commence at 3:30 pm, but at noon, all cars remained sheltered beneath transporters.
By 2 pm, the rain began to calm, and as the drivers completed their parade laps and the race cars were positioned on the grid, it had ceased. Reports indicated that the track was beginning to dry in certain sections. Clark had a flying start getting into the lead from 8th on the grid and the SP-1-63 adeptly navigated the tricky conditions, steadily making progress as the track gradually dried. Many drivers encountered difficulties and retired due to the challenging conditions. Although the Scirocco wasn’t setting the pace, it maintained consistent lap times. Just past the midpoint of the race, a deluge of rain descended, and in the higher elevations of the track, clouds hung at ground level, and rivulets ran across most of the circuit. At this stage, SP-1-63 had worked its way up to 8th position. Settember made a pit stop on Lap 25 to replace his goggles, and he rejoined the race. Unfortunately, on his 26th lap, approaching Stavelot, he hit a patch of water, sending him spinning helplessly down a bank and into a field. Nevertheless, he was classified as finishing 8th in the race.
French GP – Reims 30th of June 1963
The French Grand Prix returned to Reims after a brief stint at Rouen in 1962. Typically, practice sessions were scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons and evenings, with a full day of racing on Saturday. However, due to the Dutch GP taking place just a week prior, everything was pushed back a day to give the teams ample time to catch up and prepare for the upcoming race weekend. Unfortunately, the Scirocco-Powell team and Settember in SP-1-63 missed Zandvoort due to their car not being ready in time, making Reims their first Grand Prix since Spa earlier that month.
As 6:30 PM rolled around on Wednesday, the Grand Prix cars were set to hit the track for practice. The works teams of Lotus, BRM, Ferrari, and Cooper wasted no time in taking to the circuit. BRM encountered trouble when an electrode from a spark plug lodged itself in Hill’s cylinder head valve seat. McLaren grappled with a recurring gear selector issue from Zandvoort, but the other two Coopers were posting strong lap times.
Thursday’s second practice was marred by rain, reminiscent of the conditions at the Belgian GP. The Scirocco took to the track behind the Ferraris, Brabhams, BRMs, and a handful of other privateer teams, setting a time of 2:54.5. This put Settember ahead of fellow Americans Dan Gurney (Brabham) and Jim Hall (Lotus). Final practice on Friday evening saw the return of the typical Champagne region weather, allowing all the action to unfold in dry conditions. This worked somewhat against SP-1-63’s favour, as it posted a time of 2:36.7, earning a 20th-place start, just ahead of Bandini in the BRM.
Settember made a promising start in the Scirocco, swiftly manoeuvring around Phil and Graham Hill. SP-1-63 gained several positions early on and got off to a strong start. Unfortunately, after only five laps, the car was forced to retire due to a rear hub failure. According to Motorsport Magazine in August 1963, “the Scirocco BRM had stopped out on the circuit with a rear wheel bearing broken up.”
British Grand Prix- Silverstone 20th of July 1963
The British Grand Prix at Silverstone was now upon them. Every car arrived well-prepared and raring to go. This marked the home race for Scirocco-Powell Racing English-built cars. It also marked the first appearance of the teams second car in the hands of Ian Burgess. Slightly narrower than SP-1-63 and built with Ian Burgess in mind. It ran on carburettors, unlike Settember’s fuel injected BRM engine, and boasted newly designed solid disc ‘elektron’ wheels.
Taking to the track in the Thursday afternoon session, Settember had a slight lead in SP-1-63 over Burgess in the No 2 car. Both drivers used the session to acquaint themselves with their cars lapping Silverstone for the first time. By Friday morning, both cars had significantly improved their lap times. SP-1-63 clocked in at 1:40.5, placing Settember just behind and sharing his row with Hailwood, Anderson, and Siffert.
On Saturday, Silverstone played host to an impressive 115,000 spectators. Just before 2pm, all 23 cars lined up for the formation lap. The race got underway smoothly and after a number of laps, it fell into three distinct groups. Clark was in a league of his own, while a cluster of drivers battled fiercely for the second position, with the two Brabhams showing promise, and Surtees and McLaren also in contention. The second group comprised mainly of number two drivers like Taylor, Bonnier, Ginther, Amon, and Ireland.
The third group was a mix of privateers, with Anderson leading the pack in his privately owned Lola. Gregory and Raby had to pit for a few issues, along with Settember in SP-1-63. As the race progressed, it became evident that the Sciroccos were spending more time in the pits than on the track. Ultimately, both cars had to retire due to persistent misfires, later revealed to be an ignition problem on both vehicles. Settember was out on Lap 21, and Burgess in the No.2 car on Lap 37.
Solitude GP – The Solitudering 28th of July 1963
Next on Scirocco-Powell Racing’s itinerary was Stuttgart, Germany, for the closed-road race at the ‘Solitudering’. After a series of crucial races, it was a welcome change for the teams to participate in a non-championship event. The Solitude Grand Prix, featured a blend of corners ranging from 30 to 130mph, a 160mph straight, and stretched over 11.417 kilometres on closed public roads through a picturesque wooded valley. Reminiscent of the Nurburgring, it took its name from a local castle on the hill.
With 29 entries, quite a few missed first practice, an oversight given the complexity of the circuit. Scirocco-Powell Racing fielded both Settember and Burgess, both cars now equipped with the disc-style wheels. The circuit was off-limits for the entirety of Friday and Saturday leading up to the race, providing just two hours of practice for the Grand Prix cars. Settember and SP-1-63 completed qualifying in 15th place, with a time of 4:08.00s, just behind Mike Hailwood in the Reg Parnell Racing Lotus 24-Climax and ahead of Phil Hill in the Curie Fillipinetti Lotus-BRM 24. Unfortunately, Burgess didn’t manage to set a time in the No.2 car, relegating him to the back of the grid on race day.
Shortly after 1:30pm, all cars were in position. Brabham surged ahead at the start, while, this time, it was Clark who remained stationary on the front row with a broken driveshaft. Within just a few laps, a number of cars began to retire; the Solitudering was proving to be a demanding track for the cars. Hailwood pulled into the pits with engine troubles, followed by a series of tailenders Carter, Parnell, Amon, and Hill—all retiring. Soon after, Ian Burgess joined them. SP-1-63 seemed poised for a strong race and a favourable result, only to be thwarted by a valve issue in the engine, resulting in another retirement and an unfortunate weekend for the Scirocco-Powell Racing Team.
German Grand Prix – Nurburgring 4th of August 1963
The 1963 German Grand Prix, held at the legendary Nürburgring circuit, was the seventh round of the championship, generating high anticipation among drivers and teams for the gruelling 22.81-kilometer circuit famously dubbed the “Green Hell.”
In qualifying, Jim Clark showcased his exceptional mastery of the track, placing his Lotus 25 on pole once again. John Surtees in the Ferrari followed closely behind. However, the Scirocco-Powell duo of Burgess and Settember faced challenges, only managing to put in laps during the final practice session on Saturday morning.
SP-1-63 secured the last qualifying position with a time of 10:02.0s. The remarkable performance of the 1963 grid at the German Grand Prix set the stage for a gripping race day. As the race kicked off, Settember surged ahead of his teammate Burgess, who faced a standstill off the start line. Accidents unfolded left, right, and centre as expected. Bonnier, Bandini, and Ireland had a collision, and Mairesse was also involved. Hill suffered a gearbox failure, while McLaren’s chassis suffered an integral part breakage, sending him off the high-speed left-hand curve leading to Aremburg. When Burgess finally got underway, he managed to gain some positions, only for his steering to break on lap 5. Meanwhile, on the other side of the circuit, Settember and SP-1-63 left the road, crashing through a wire protective fence on Lap 5. Despite this setback SP-1-63 had managed to climb up to 11th place.
Austrian Grand Prix – Zeltweg Airfiled, 1st of September 1963 -The sweet smell of success.
The Austrian Grand Prix, held at the Zeltweg Aerodrome. With no permanent race tracks in Austria and road racing forbidden, this event marked a significant step forward. It was named the 1st Austrian Grand Prix, a testament to the dedicated individuals behind the scenes.
Being located on an aerodrome meant that practice sessions and the race itself had to be condensed into a two-day meeting over Saturday and Sunday. This arrangement proved convenient for smaller privateer teams like Scirocco-Powell Racing, as it was en route to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza the following week. As Saturday morning practice commenced, both Sciroccos, driven by Burgess and Settember, were out on the track. Clark used the session to test the new car, while some drivers were still en route.
The race day in Austria was very hot, and at the moment the flag dropped, SP-1-63 was at a standstill. The clutch pedal had failed, and cars streamed past. Once Settember got going again, he would complete the entire race without a clutch. Three laps in, teammate Burgess experienced engine failure. Clark lost the lead due to a split oil pipe, and Rindt suffered an engine failure as well. Before long, Settember had caught up with the pack. SP-1-63’s consistency and speed proved remarkable, earning Settember a well-deserved 2nd place finish behind Jack Brabham. This marked the car’s first podium finish, a testament to Settember’s skill and the car’s resilience in completing the entire race without a functioning clutch. Sadly the prize money that Settember won went straight to BRM for Burgess’ engine rebuild.
Italian GP – Monza 8th of September 1963
Following the remarkable success at the Austrian Grand Prix, the cars were swiftly loaded up and the team set off to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. The track, with its unique combination of road and track sections, still included the notorious banking. Drivers unfamiliar with this feature were given the opportunity to drive it at pre-determined speeds, though this decision stirred some discontent among certain drivers.
Official practice began on Friday afternoon. An accident involving Anderson in his Lotus on the southern end of the banking led organisers and the Automobile Club of Milan to make the decision to close the banking for insufficient spectator safety. This move was supported by a petition in the paddock by drivers and teams, stating their refusal to race unless the banking was eliminated. As a result, both the race and further practice would now be held exclusively on the road section of the track.
With practice back underway, there was limited time for everyone to get back out. Settember, in SP-1-63, hadn’t set a time, and Burgess, with his engine yet to be rebuilt, was also yet to make a qualifying attempt. Torrential rain brought practice to a halt, and by Saturday morning, the clouds still lingered. All but five of the 33 cars entered for the weekend turned out for Saturday afternoon’s session. Despite encountering a hot transistor box on SP-1-63, and Italian firemen observing nervously, Settember returned to the track and ended up qualifying ahead of Beaufort, Brambilla, Lippi, Pilete, and Baghetti’s A.T.S. However, due to undisclosed discussions and arrangements behind closed doors, Settember’s SP-1-63 and a few other drivers would not compete in the race. They had been encouraged not to start, allowing room for local Italians to compete on their home soil.
Oulton Park Gold Cup 21st of September
The Gold Cup marked Settember’s final appearance with SP-1-63. In front of a crowd of 60,000 spectators, both Scirocco-Powell Racing team cars were in the lineup. Unfortunately, SP-1-63 and September’s race ended in retirement as the car dropped a valve on lap 5. However, Ian Burgess pressed on to finish 8th in the No. 2 car.
The end of the road
As the 1963 season came to close, facing financial constraints and having reputedly fallen in love with a girl while over in England, Hugh Powell had lost enthusiasm in the racing. This was compounded when Ian Burgess apparently had to go to the bank for emergency funding for the final European Formula 1 race of 1963 season. Having achieved what they had set out to do: compete in contemporary Grand Prix racing in Europe against the biggest names, Powell felt continuing into the 1964 season wouldn’t be financially feasible.
Burgess and Settember both persuaded Hugh Powell to go back to the States and ask for more funding. Rather than taking the plane, Powell had booked in on the Queen Elizabeth in a rather classy room. Both Scirocco drivers raced to the dock at Southampton to confront the young American. After a lengthy and desperate phone call to Powell Senior it turned out young Hugh was not 22 years old as he had claimed, but very much underage and as such not entitled to have been spending the family fortune and also not legally liable for the debt owed. It was from this point the Scirocco-Powell Racing team was officially folded.
At the end of the season or early in 1964 both of the cars were sold to a Mr. Carter who was a friend of Tim Parnell. The initial plan was apparently to run both cars out of the Parnell Racing workshop in Hounslow. In the end Ian Burgess’ car SP-2-63 went on to be raced and owned by Belgium privateer André Pillette.
According to the extensive research by renown motorsport historian Graham Capel by 1965 SP-1-63 was owned by a Mr. W A Jones of Shardlow, near Derby. Mr. Jones then sold the car to Alan Eccles of West Bromwich to be made into a Formula Libre Car for 1966. In 1966 ownership passed to Mike Berry and in 1967 to Michael Chipperfield. John McCathy owned the car in the early 1970’s before selling it to well known historic racer Anthony Mayman.
Eventually, SP-1-63 made its way to the United States, where, it was reputedly fitted with a Ford small-block V8 for sand racing. During the 1980s, John Harper discovered the car, engineless and advertised it in Motorsport in December 1986. He sold it to the aforementioned Graham Capell. Photographs on file show the car engineless still retaining its original cockpit and nose painted in blue and red. Graham then set about researching the cars history and the extensive history that accompanies the car features numerous correspondences with him and prior owners, mechanics and Hugh Powell himself. In Graham’s ownership the restoration was started at Racing Rebuilds of Surrey before being purchased by American collector and racer, Dean Butler.
He initially had the car shipped to America to be restored by Bob Akin Motorsports of New York. However it was soon apparent that the car needed to be fitted with a correct BRM 1.5-Litre V8 engine and as such car was shipped back to the UK and the restoration was entrusted to Hall & Hall. In their hands it underwent a no-expense spared restoration. A new rear body section was made, a BRM engine of the correct period was fitted along with a correct Colotti gearbox. During Mr. Bulter’s ownership SP-1-63 was raced with notable success by Martin Walford both with the HGPCA and at the Goodwood Revival.
In 2012 SP-1-63 was purchased by fellow American and keen historic racer John Delane. He raced SP-1-63 at the 2012 Silverstone Classic and in the 2012 Glover Trophy at the 2012 Goodwood Revival, where I had the pleasure of having a fun duel with him throughout the race.
From John SP-1-63 sold to Italian Tomasso Gelmini in 2013. He raced the car at both Goodwood and Monaco, qualifying 3rd overall in the 1.5-Litre race at the 2014 Monaco Historic.
In 2016 SP-1-63 was purchased by the current owner. In his ownership the car has been greatly enjoyed and raced extensively with the HGPCA, twice at Monaco and has been a regular fixture in the Glover Trophy at Goodwood. Maintained in its current ownership by the team at Laranca Engineering, the engine is fresh back from its winter rebuild at Hall & Hall. The bag tanks have also been changed.
Accompanied by an extensive history file and current FIA papers, SP-1-63 offers the rare opportunity to step into what is considered by many to be one of the purest and most evocative eras of Formula 1, one that very much sits at the heart of the Monaco Historic Grand Prix and the Goodwood Revival. Add the wide selections of well attended events on offer with the HGPCA, this car has proved itself to be an attractive entry to them all.