Cooper Car Company

Team logoBased in: Surbiton (1950-65) Byfleet (1966-69)
Founded: 1946 (active 1950-1969)

Principal: Charles & John Cooper

Cooper have a special place in the history of Grand Prix racing as the first constructor to win a race with a rear-engined car. The story begins in the immediate post war years when Charles Cooper and his son John were supporters of 500cc racing. As the car was chain driven it made sense to put the engine at the back, close to the rear axle. The cars were very successful and the Cooper Car Company was founded to build more.

The company quickly grew to dominate Formula 3 races but many people, including Cooper himself, doubted that the same principles could be applied to more potent machinery. In 1955 an experimental Cooper was run by Jack Brabham at the British Grand Prix with only limited success. Cooper was still more interested in Formula 2 and spent most of his time developing a rear-engined car to compete in the series. During 1957 a handful of larger versions were produced and ran in various Grands Prix, but with only 2-litre units onboard they failed to cause any serious damage.

For 1958 Rob Walker, the heir to the Johnny Walker whiskey fortune, managed to secure the services of Stirling Moss to run a Cooper in the Argentine race. In his little blue Coooper T51 Moss beat the Ferraris in what was the first World Championship victory by a rear-engined car. The next race in Monte Carlo brought Cooper another victory and although the cars were underpowered it became obvious that the rear-engined concept had merit.

For 1959 Cooper fielded the T51 with Jack Brabham at the wheel. Coupled with a 2.5-litre Coventry-Climax engine the car was finally competitive. Brabham won in Monaco and Britain, while his team-mate Bruce McLaren scored a stunning win at Sebring. Brabham got the driver's title and Cooper got the constructor's cup. 1960 saw more of the same with both Brabham and Cooper taking back-to-back titles as result of Brabham run of five wins.

Following seasons brought less success as Cooper's pioneering developments were copied and improved on by Ferrari, Lotus and BRM. Charles Cooper died in 1964 and with John suffering from the effects of a serious road accident, the team was sold to the Chipstead Group and later relocated to Byfleet. In the final years Cooper reintroduced the V12 Maserati engine but the writing was on the wall and they closed their doors for the last time at the end of 1968.

Cars

All Formula One cars of Cooper Car Company
Car designationRace years
Cooper T121950
Cooper T201952 - 1953
Cooper T241953 - 1954
Cooper T231953 - 1956
Cooper T401955
Cooper T411957
Cooper T441957
Cooper T431957 - 1960
Cooper T451958 - 1961
Cooper T511959 - 1963
Cooper T531960 - 1963
Cooper T581961
Cooper T551961 - 1965
Cooper T601962 - 1965
Cooper T661963 - 1964
Cooper T71/731964 - 1965
Cooper T731964 - 1966
Cooper T591965
Cooper T771965 - 1967
Cooper T811966 - 1968
Cooper T791967
Cooper T821967
Cooper T81B1967 - 1968
Cooper T861967 - 1968
Cooper T761968
Cooper T86B1968 - 1969