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The successor to the Honda RA271, the RA272 was noticeable mainly for its technically advanced (though rather wide and heavy) 48-valve 1,495.28 cc V12 engine (58.1 x 47.0 mm), a water-cooled, transversely mounted unit which reportedly gave 230 bhp (170 kW) at 13,000 rpm.
The engine was safe to 14,000 rpm, which was unusually high for a 1960s engine design. The Honda V12 had staggering acceleration and often led the race into the opening lap after leaving the stationary starting grid. It led the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix from start to finish, driven by Richie Ginther, making it the first Japanese car to win a Formula One Grand Prix.