Art Appreciation: Cooper 500


I adore the use of leaf springs in the Cooper Mk IV. When the FIA settled on a 500cc specification for the new International Formula 3 series they made a lot of motorcycle engine manufacturers and British garagistas very happy.

This iteration of the Cooper 500 has long been my favorite. It looks like a WWII fighter plane fuselage on wheels. It is small. it is nimble. It is utilitarian. It is—dare I say—cute. My friend Eric is always mocking me for my love of ‘cute’ cars, but I make no apologies. I’d rather race this humble little insect of a machine than most meaner, more muscular, more intimidating racers.

More of the absolutely stunning Guerry & Prat studio shots at their gallery page. More info on the Mark IV and the 500cc Formula at 500Race.org.

DISCUSS (7 Comments)

  1. Ted Sodergren

    Then again, our friend Eric races a car called an ASP, so what can you expect? Snakes vs. doodlebugs…speaks to a certain mindset, y’know?

  2. Stefan Vapaa

    Correction: The feature photo car (#9) and Donald Blank’s car are not MK IVs, rather they are both MK Vs.

    The rest are indeed MK IVs.

    The driver/owner of the MK IV pictured at the PVGP is Denis McKenna. It is fitted with a very neat JAP twin.

  3. Harlo

    Thanks for pointing that out, Stefan. Looking again, the differences in the bodywork are obvious. I should probably just update the post title, eh?

  4. Stefan Vapaa

    The new post title works perfectly. Nicely covered Harlo!
    Almost all the differences are in the bodywork changes.
    Some were necessitated by the relocation of the fuel tank from above the driver’s legs to beside his legs (just outboard of the chassis rails). Making the rear body tilt as a single piece was a big improvement over the access flaps on the Mk IV. Making the front body all one piece is also different.
    Mechanically they are basically identical.

  5. Rich

    Being pedantic:
    – Cliff Ricker’s chequer car is a 1952 Mk VI (virtually indistinguishable from a Mk V from outside)
    – The postcard features a brace of 1948 Mk IIs
    – The selection of cars at the factory features a right old mish-mash. Nearest is probably a Mk II (perhaps with a Mk III nose), then a pair of brand new Mk IVs, then one of the road cars (MG or Vauxhall).
    Identifying Cooper 500s is a nightmare, and not helped by the number of upgrades and modifications made by owners.

  6. Harlo

    Thanks for the corrections, Rich. I’ve definitely proved that I’m lacking in my spotting abilities when it comes to Cooper 500s.

  7. Seneca Cup. Watkins Glen, 1951. | The Chicane

    […] absolutely adore seeing little Cooper and Effyh 500s mixing it up with big Chrysler-Allards and Jags and Ferrari coupes in this brilliant […]

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