Cooper Car Company
Cooper Full name Cooper Car Company Base Surbiton, Surrey, United Kingdom Founder(s) Charles Cooper
Noted drivers Stirling Moss
Formula One World Championship career Debut 1950 Monaco Grand Prix Races competed 129 Constructors' Championships 2 (1959, 1960) Drivers' Championships 2 (1959, 1960) Race victories 16 Pole positions 11 Fastest laps 14 Final race 1969 Monaco Grand Prix
The Cooper Car Company was founded in 1946 by Charles Cooper and his son John Cooper. Together with John's boyhood friend, Eric Brandon, they began by building racing cars in Charles' small garage in Surbiton, Surrey, England in 1946. Through the 1950s and early 1960s, they reached auto racing's highest levels as their rear-engined, single-seat cars altered the face of Formula One and the Indianapolis 500, and their Mini Cooper dominated Rally racing. Thanks in part to Cooper's legacy, Britain remains the home of a thriving racing industry, and the Cooper name lives on in the Cooper versions of the Mini (BMW) production cars that are still built in England but are now owned and marketed by BMW.
The first cars built by the Coopers were single-seat 500cc Formula 3 racing cars driven by John Cooper and Eric Brandon and powered by a JAP motorcycle engine. Since materials were in short supply immediately after World War II, the prototypes were constructed by joining two old Fiat Topolino front-ends together. According to John Cooper, the stroke of genius that would make the Coopers an automotive legend—the location of the engine behind the driver—was merely a practical matter at the time. Because the car was powered by a motorcycle engine, they believed it was more convenient to have the engine in the back, driving a chain.
Called the Cooper 500, this car's success in hillclimbs and on track, including Eric winning the first post war motor race at Gransden Lodge airfield, quickly created demand from other drivers (including, over the years, Stirling Moss, Peter Collins, Jim Russell, Ivor Bueb, Ken Tyrrell and Bernie Ecclestone) and led to the establishment of the Cooper Car Company to build more. The business grew by providing an inexpensive entry to motorsport for seemingly every aspiring young British driver, and the company became the world's first and largest post-war, specialist manufacturer of racing cars for sale to privateers.
Cooper built over 300 F3 cars and dominated the category, winning 64 out of 78 major races between 1951 and 1954. This volume of construction was unique and enabled the company to grow into the senior categories; it was with a modified Cooper 500 chassis, a T12 model, that Cooper had its first taste of top-tier racing when Harry Schell qualified for the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix. Though Schell retired in the first lap, this marked the first appearance of a rear-engined racer at a Grand Prix event since the end of WWII.
The front-engined Formula Two Cooper Bristol model was introduced in 1952. Various iterations of this design were driven by a number of legendary drivers - among them Juan Manuel Fangio and Mike Hawthorn - and furthered the company's growing reputation by appearing in Grand Prix races, which at the time were run to F2 regulations. It wasn't until the company began building rear-engined sports cars in 1955 that they really became aware of the benefits of having the engine behind the driver. Based on the 500cc cars and powered by a modified Coventry Climax fire-pump engine, these cars were called "Bobtails." With the center of gravity closer to the middle of the car, they found it was less liable to spins and much more effective at putting the power down to the road, so they decided to build a single-seater version and began entering it in Formula 2 races.
Jack Brabham raised some eyebrows when he took sixth place at the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix in a rear-engined Formula 2 Cooper. When Stirling Moss won the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix in Rob Walker's privately-entered Cooper and Maurice Trintignant duplicated the feat in the next race at Monaco, the racing world was stunned and a rear-engined revolution had begun. The next year, 1959, Brabham and the Cooper works team became the first to win the Formula One World Championship in a rear-engined car. Both team and driver repeated the feat in 1960, and every World Champion since has been sitting in front of his engine.
Brabham took one of the Championship-winning Cooper T53 "Lowline" to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for a test in 1960, then entered the famous 500-mile race in a larger, longer and offset car based on the 1960 F1 design. Arriving at the Speedway 5 May 1961, the "funny" little car from Europe was mocked by the other teams, but it ran as high as third and finished ninth. It took a few years, but the Indianapolis establishment gradually realized the writing was on the wall and the days of their front-engined roadsters were numbered. Beginning with Jim Clark, who drove a rear-engined Lotus in 1965, every winner of the Indianapolis 500 has had the engine in the back. The revolution begun by the little chain-driven Cooper 500 was complete.
Once every Formula car manufacturer began building rear-engined racers, the practicality and intelligent construction of Cooper's single-seaters was overtaken by more sophisticated technology from Lola, Lotus, BRM and Ferrari. The Cooper team's decline was accelerated when John Cooper was seriously injured in a road accident in 1963 driving a twin-engined Mini and Charles Cooper died in 1964.
After the death of his father, John Cooper sold the Cooper Formula One team to the Chipstead Motor Group in April 1965. Their final Formula One victory was achieved by Mexican driver Pedro Rodríguez at the 1967 South African Grand Prix in a Cooper T81. In all, Coopers participated in 129 Formula One World Championship events in nine years, winning 16 races.
Besides Formula One cars, Cooper offered a series of Formula Junior cars. These were the T52, T56, T59 and T67 models. Ken Tyrrell ran a very successful team with John Love and Tony Maggs as his drivers. Following the demise of Formula Junior, Ken Tyrrell tested Jackie Stewart in a Formula Three car, a Cooper T72. This test at the Goodwood Circuit marked the start of partnership which dominated motorsport later on.
In October 2009, Mike Cooper, the son of John Cooper launched Cooper Bikes, the bicycle division of the Cooper Car Company.
Cooper Car Company Grand Prix results
(key) (results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
Year Chassis Engine Tyres Driver 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Points WCC 1953 T20
Bristol BS1 2.0 L6
Alta GP 2.5 L4
D ARG 500 NED BEL FRA GBR GER SUI ITA n/a n/a[a] Alan Brown 9 John Barber 8 Adolfo Schwelm Cruz Ret Stirling Moss 9 Ret 6 13 1955 T40 Bristol BS1 2.0 L6 D ARG MON 500 BEL NED GBR ITA n/a n/a[a] Jack Brabham Ret 1957 T43 Climax FPF 2.0 L4
Climax FPF 1.5 L4
A ARG MON 500 FRA GBR GER PES ITA n/a n/a[a] Jack Brabham 6 7[b]/ Ret Ret 7 Les Leston DNQ Mike MacDowel 7[b] Roy Salvadori 5 Ret Ret 1958 T45
Climax FPF 2.0 L4
Climax FPF 1.5 L4
D ARG MON NED 500 BEL FRA GBR GER POR ITA MOR 31 3rd Jack Brabham 4 8 Ret 6 6 Ret 7 Ret 11 Roy Salvadori Ret 4 8 11 3 2 9 5 7 Ian Burgess Ret Jack Fairman 8 Bruce McLaren 5 13 1959 T51 Climax FPF 2.5 L4 D MON 500 NED FRA GBR GER POR ITA USA 40
1st Bruce McLaren 5 5 3 Ret Ret Ret 1 Jack Brabham 1 2 3 1 Ret Ret 3 4 Masten Gregory Ret 3 Ret 7 Ret 2 Giorgio Scarlatti 12 1960 T51
Climax FPF 2.5 L4 D ARG MON 500 NED BEL FRA GBR POR ITA USA 48
1st Bruce McLaren 1 2 Ret 2 3 4 2 3 Jack Brabham Ret DSQ 1 1 1 1 1 4 Chuck Daigh Ret Ron Flockhart Ret 1961 T55
Climax FPF 1.5 L4
Climax FWMV 1.5 V8
D MON NED BEL FRA GBR GER ITA USA 14
4th Bruce McLaren 6 12 Ret 5 8 6 3 4 Jack Brabham Ret 6 Ret Ret 4 NC Ret Ret 1962 T60
Climax FWMV 1.5 V8
Climax FPF 1.5 L4
D NED MON BEL FRA GBR GER ITA USA RSA 29
3rd Bruce McLaren Ret 1 Ret 4 3 5 3 3 2 Tony Maggs 5 Ret Ret 2 6 9 7 7 3 Timmy Mayer Ret 1963 T66 Climax FWMV 1.5 V8 D MON BEL NED FRA GBR GER ITA USA MEX RSA 25
5th Bruce McLaren 3 2 Ret 12 Ret Ret 3 11 Ret 4 Tony Maggs 5 7 Ret 2 9 Ret 6 Ret Ret 7 1964 T73
Climax FWMV 1.5 V8 D MON NED BEL FRA GBR GER AUT ITA USA MEX 16 5th Phil Hill 9 8 Ret 7 6 Ret Ret Ret 9 Bruce McLaren Ret 7 2 6 Ret Ret Ret 2 Ret 7 1965 T77
Climax FWMV 1.5 V8 D RSA MON BEL FRA GBR NED GER ITA USA MEX 14 5th Bruce McLaren 5 5 3 Ret 10 Ret Ret 5 Ret Ret Jochen Rindt Ret DNQ 11 Ret 14 Ret 4 8 6 Ret 1966 T81 Maserati 9/F1 3.0 V12 D MON BEL FRA GBR NED GER ITA USA MEX 30
3rd Richie Ginther Ret 5 Jochen Rindt Ret 2 4 5 Ret 3 4 2 Ret John Surtees Ret Ret Ret 2 Ret 3 1 Chris Amon 8 Moisés Solana Ret 1967 T81
Maserati 9/F1 3.0 V12
Maserati 10/F1 3.0 V12
RSA MON NED BEL FRA GBR GER CAN ITA USA MEX 28 3rd Jochen Rindt Ret Ret Ret 4 Ret Ret Ret Ret 4 Ret Pedro Rodríguez 1 5 Ret 9 6 5 8 6 Alan Rees 9 Richard Attwood 10 Jacky Ickx 6 Ret 1968 T81B
Maserati 10/F1 3.0 V12
BRM P142 3.0 V12
Alfa Romeo T33 3.0 V8
RSA ESP MON BEL NED FRA GBR GER ITA CAN USA MEX 14 7th Brian Redman Ret 3 Ret Ludovico Scarfiotti Ret 4 4 Lucien Bianchi 3 6 Ret Ret NC Ret Ret Vic Elford 4 Ret Ret Ret 5 Ret 8 Johnny Servoz-Gavin Ret Robin Widdows Ret
[b] ^ Shared Drive.
Results of other Cooper cars
(key) (Results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap.)
Year Entrant/s Chassis/ Engine Tyres Driver/s 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1958 ARG MON NED 500 BEL FRA GBR GER POR ITA MOR Rob Walker Racing Team T43
Climax FPF 2.0 L4 C Stirling Moss 1 Maurice Trintignant 1 9 8 3 8 Ret Ret Ron Flockhart DNQ Scuderia Centro Sud T43 Climax FPF 1.5 L4 D Wolfgang Seidel Ret
As the company's fortunes in Formula One declined, however, the John Cooper-conceived Mini Cooper -- introduced in 1961 as a development of the Alec Issigonis-designed British Motor Corporation Mini with a more powerful engine, new brakes and a distinctive livery—continued to dominate in saloon car and rally races throughout the 1960s, winning many championships and the 1964, 1965 and 1967 Monte Carlo Rallies.
Several different Cooper-marked versions of the Mini and various Cooper conversion kits have been, and continue to be, marketed by various companies. The current BMW MINI, in production since 2001, has Cooper and Cooper S models and a number of John Cooper Works tuner packages.
On 1 April 1968, John Cooper leased the building, 243 Ewell Road, to the Metropolitan Police and the local Traffic Division (V Victor) moved in. They would stay there for the next twenty-five years and 'TDV' would become one of the busier police garages. In August 1968, they were supplied with the two Mini Coopers index numbers PYT767F and PYT768F. The centre boss of the steering wheel was replace by a speaker and microphone and a PTT transmitter switch, was added to the steering column. The sight of a six-foot bobby getting into the mini greatly amused the locals. The vehicles were trialled for a number of months, but no orders were placed for other garages.
- GPL Driveable, detailed simulations of Cooper's T81 and T77 F1 cars.
- John Cooper Works
- John Cooper - A Very British Marque, A Very British Man
- John Cooper: The Man Who Beat Italia
- Cooper profile at The 500 Owners Association
- John Cooper (1977). The Grand Prix Carpetbaggers: The Autobiography of John Cooper. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-03081-9
- Cooper Cars, by Doug Nye, 1983, Osprey Publishing, 2003, Motorbooks International
Sporting positions Preceded by
Formula One Constructors' Champion
FerrariFounders: Charles Cooper • John Cooper
Designers: Owen Maddock • Jack Brabham • Eddie Stait • Derrick White
Formula One/Two: 1000/1100 • Cooper-Bristol • T41 • T43 • T44 • T45 • T51 • T53 • T55 • T58 • T60 • T63 • T66 • T71 • T73 • T75 • T77 • T80 • T81 • T82 • T84 • T86 • T91
Tasman: T55 • T62 • T70 • T79
Formula Three/Junior: 500 • T52 • T56 • T59 • T65/T67 • T72 • T76 • T83 • T85
Other: T54 (IndyCar) • T87 (hillclimb) • T88 (Formula C) • T90 (Formula 5000)
Sportscars: Cooper-MG • Cooper-Jaguar • Bobtail • Monaco • Mini
Formula One constructors Current constructors (2011) Former constructors
AFM · AGS · Alfa Romeo · Alta · Amon · Andrea Moda · Apollon · Arrows · Arzani-Volpini · Aston-Butterworth · Aston Martin · ATS (Italy) · ATS (Germany) · BAR · Behra-Porsche · Bellasi · Benetton · BMW · Boro · Brabham · Brawn · BRM · BRP · Bugatti · Cisitalia · Coloni · Connaught · Connew · Cooper · Cosworth · Dallara · De Tomaso · Delahaye · Derrington-Francis · Eagle · Eifelland · Emeryson · EMW · ENB · Ensign · ERA · EuroBrun · Ferguson · FIRST · Fittipaldi · Fondmetal · Footwork · Forti · Frazer Nash · Fry · Gilby · Gordini · Greifzu · Haas/Lola · Hesketh · Hill · HWM · Honda · Jaguar · JBW · Jordan · Kauhsen · Klenk · Kojima · Kurtis Kraft · Lancia · Larrousse · LDS · LEC · Leyton House · Life · Ligier · Lola · Lotus (Team Lotus) · Lyncar · Maki · March · Martini · Maserati · Matra · MBM · McGuire · Merzario · Midland · Milano · Minardi · Modena · Onyx · OSCA · Osella · Pacific · Parnelli · Penske · Porsche · Prost · RAM · RE · Rebaque · Reynard · Rial · Scarab · Scirocco · Shadow · Shannon · Simtek · Spirit · Spyker · Stebro · Stewart · Super Aguri · Surtees · Talbot · Talbot-Lago · Tec-Mec · Tecno · Theodore · Token · Toleman · Toyota · Trojan · Tyrrell · Vanwall · Veritas · Williams (FWRC) · Wolf · ZakspeedAlthough World Championship races held in 1952 and 1953 were run to Formula Two regulations, constructors who only participated during this period are included herein to maintain Championship continuity. Constructors whose only participation in the World Championship was in the Indianapolis 500 races between 1950 and 1960 are not listed.
Formula One World Constructors' Champions
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