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Kevin Thomas and His Homebuilt F1 Car

November 7, 2012 by Matt

Kevin Thomas Homebuilt F1 Formula 1 One Car BAR Lucky Strike Honda 2001

To clarify, that’s homebuilt, not homemade. Kevin Thomas isn’t constructing some kind of replica Formula 1 car from scratch; he’s assembling an actual F1 racer from actual F1 racer parts.

In his backyard.

As with many projects, it all started with an eBay purchase. A longtime F1 fan, Thomas was browsing the popular auction site one day when he stumbled across a listing for a pair of chassis constructed by the now-defunct British American Racing (BAR) team. On a whim, Thomas contacted the seller after the auction had ended and secured the foundation for his project.

Intended for the 2001 F1 season, the BAR chassis Thomas ended up with was relegated to testing duties, but has all the bells and whistles of the cars driven in anger by Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis on circuits across the globe. Thomas has had considerable difficulty sourcing parts specifically for his chassis, so he’s had to cobble together subassemblies from other F1 cars when they come up for sale—a slow, painstaking process that requires more patience than I would have.

It also demands a decent amount of mechanical ability, or at least a willingness to learn. The car’s sidepods, for instance, are from a later Williams F1 car and adapted by Thomas to the BAR tub, and a contemporary Benetton racer lent certain suspension bits. As for the engine, Thomas plans to source a Formula Renault 3.5l V6 engine—much easier to come by than the BAR F1 car’s original 3.0 V10. The Renault engine’s output of “only” around 480 hp is less than two-thirds that of the engine the chassis was designed around, but more than enough to tax the abilities of 98% of amateur racers like Thomas, or you and me, for that matter.

It’s an amazingly ambitious project, and I wish Thomas the best of luck as he tinkers away in his backyard shed on his F1 race car.

Filed under: Formula 1, Miscellaneous, Tinkering


  1. Paul says:

    Really cool! That would be fun to have in the backyard. Definitely a car you wouldn’t let your kids drive till they turned 16….or 18…or 21… :)

  2. janders says:

    sweet baby jesus that is awesome and my newest of heroes!

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