You OK Up There?

Cooper on the Roof - 1949

Cooper on the Roof - 1949Major Peter Braid had quite a ride during this Formula 3 race at Blandford Army camp in August 1949.

Presumably Braid had some flight experience because I can think of no other way he might have gotten his F3 Cooper up on the guardroom house, but apparently a bus stop and a tree gave him a boost along the way.

Production Value

Cooper exhibition stand

It’s auto show season. While the latest supercars and minivans are being debuted in Detroit and LA, let’s remember that some of the best racing cars ever made didn’t have so much as a sheet to pull back when they debuted. Today’s vehicle launches are multimedia extravaganzas of celebrity-hosted augmented reality audio visual choreography that seemingly had more effort in their planning than the econobox they’re revealing.

Not so with the Cooper 500 shown here. Just pull up a cafe chair to set the engine on, hand paint a placard with the maker’s name, and park ’em over by the rollup warehouse door. Done and done.

Vintage Safety

Art Appreciation: Ecurie Ecosse 1960 Cooper-Monaco Mark II

Ecurie Ecosse Cooper Monaco

Bonhams upcoming December auction featuring the Dick Skipwworth Ecorie Ecosse Collection has no shortage of amazing racing cars included (and one Hell of a nice transporter too), and even though this Cooper-Monaco won’t draw in the top dollar bids the way that the D-Type or C-Type will, it might be my favorite of the bunch. The rear-engined Type 57 is surely one of the most beautiful sports-racing cars to come out of Cooper Car’s garages, if not the whole of the UK racing community. Those elegant curves wrapped around that miraculous little 2 1/2 liter Coventry Climax twin cam just make me smile.

Ecurie Ecosse Cooper Monaco

Cooper delivered the cars to purchasers as a kit, and if I were to choose any single example I think I’d be most inclined to trust the one built by this legendary team. It won’t surprise you to learn that this little beauty has a magnificent race history with events on both sides of the Atlantic. Formula Libre events at Watkins, Riverside, and Laguna Seca (with Jack Brabham in the wheel for Laguna) wonderfully complement her European history at Goodwood, Oulton Park, Aintree, and LeMans. Arguably her best years, however, came when the car was entrusted to Ecurie Ecosse driver Jimmy Stewarts scrappy kid brother Jackie. He took to the machine wonderfully and racked up a series of victories right out the gate. Can you imagine owning a car that has been driven by both Jack Brabham and Jackie Stewart (and Roy Salvadori! And more!)?

Jackie Stewart in the Ecurie Ecosse Cooper Monaco

Bonhams is offering this car alongside many of her Ecurie Ecosse stablemates at their December auction. I sincerely hope that a very well heeled buyer comes along and nabs them all. They really do deserve to remain together, don’t you think?

Ecurie Ecosse Cooper Monaco

More information on Bonhams’ lot detail page.

Over-the-shoulder Onboards Are So Passé.

A Spot of Rain at the 1960 German GP

Dan Gurney's Lotus 18 gridding up for the 1960 German GP

Ringmeisters and Regenmeisters

Ok, so it was on the Sudschleife. And sure, it was a Formula 2 race. But I still wouldn’t want to have to hold a line in weather this wet on tires this thin with that much power behind my spine.

Jo Bonnier won the day in his Porsche 718. His racing suit must have been soaked to the waist. Brave. Wet. And Brave.

1961 Formula Junior at Monaco

Our earlier post about the ex-Team Tyrell championship winning 1961 Cooper T56 for sale had me wanting to see her in action. If you can find Tony Maggs’ Cooper in this very brief clip of a 1961 Monaco Formula Junior race, then you have better eyes than me. The car would have been wearing number 126 for the event.

Available in California: Ex-Team Tyrell, Ex-McQueen Cooper T56 Formula Jr.

Ex-Steve McQueen 1961 Cooper T56 Formula Junior

Let’s take a moment to set aside the provenance of Steve McQueen’s car collection and the fervor that the mere mention of his name seems to send rippling through the racing community. Let’s ignore that baggage for a moment: that baggage that makes people spend one-and-a-quarter million dollars on a bone stock 911S; that baggage that makes people spend 150K on a well-worn old husky 400. Let’s ignore all that… Just for a moment. Let’s simply look at this beautiful little Cooper T56 and let her hold her own without the Hollywood associations.

Let’s just look at it for what it is, because—like the 1970 911S and the 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross—this Cooper is a piece of motoring perfection that stands on its own just fine, thank you very much. Iconic design and racing lineage? Yep. There aren’t many machines with as close a familial tie to the rear-engined revolution and the Owen Maddock-designed T43 that shook open-wheeled racing to its very core when Jack Brabham took her to the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix.

Imagine the joy you would get walking up to this little piece of fantastic in your garage. Walking past that little ridge that flows along the engine cover that harkens to it’s larger cousin on the D-Type Jag and certainly to the mighty T51 that gave Cooper the constructor’s championship in 1959. Sure, you might not beat Jack Brabham’s 1959 Monaco GP fastest lap time of 1:40.4 with a 994cc BMC formula junior engine in place of the T51’s Cooper Climax. Then again, with the better tires you’d be running today, you might get close.

Steve McQueen in his 1961 Cooper T56 Formula Junior

Ok. Let’s face the inevitable and bring Mr. McQueen back into the discussion. The truth is that this example of the T56 has a remarkable history even without the Cooler King. The car was one of the two Cooper Works cars campaigned by Team Tyrell in 1961. With Tony Maggs winning at Goodwood, Magny-Cours, Monza, Kalskoga, Rouen, Zandvoort, Oulton Park, and Montlhery this car won Tony and Team Tyrell the European Formula Junior Championship for the season. After the season, the car was returned to Cooper and subsequently snatched up by McQueen while Steve was in Europe pickup up a Mini Cooper and attending John Cooper’s racing school. After taking the T56 back to the States, Steve captured a few wins with her in California. Indeed, this may be the car and the string of races that finally alerted the studio to Steve’s dangerous extracurriculars that famously resulted in the ultimatum that continuing to race would be the end of his acting career. The bastards.

Steve McQueen and his 1961 Cooper T56 Formula JuniorAfter Steve and this Cooper parted ways, the car continued on to greater successes stateside with Al ‘Buster’ Brizzard winning SCCA championships with this car (fitted alternately with the BMC, Alfa, or Cosworth engine). The car eventually made its way back to Steve McQueen’s racing mechanic, Skip McLaughlin, for many years before its magnificent restoration by Hardy Hall. Today the car is on offer from the Canepa Collection and looks ready to grid up at the Goodwood Revival.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Steve McQueen's Cooper Formula Junior being restored at Hardy HallEx-Steve McQueen 1961 Cooper T56 Formula JuniorEx-Steve McQueen 1961 Cooper T56 Formula Junior

More information at Canepa’s inventory page and information on the restoration at Hardy Hall Restorations.

For All Models

Hepolite AdStirling Moss and Francis Beart fit and recommend Hepolite products.

(Stirling Moss driving Francis Beart’s Cooper Mark 7A car fitted with Hepolite products)

Some famous successes…

Silverstone · May · 1st
Nurburgring · May · 1st
Aintree · May · 1st
Silverstong G.P. · July · 1st
Brands Hatch · August · 2nd
Oulton Park · August · 1st
Goodwood · September · 2nd
Aintree · October · 1st

For all models…

Hepolite
Pistons · Pins · Rings · Liners

Hepworth & Grandage, LTD., St. John’s Works, Bradford 4

Topps World on Wheels: Cooper-Bristol

Cooper-Bristol Trading Card

More from the Topps World on Wheels bubblegum card collection. This time, Cooper-Bristol.

From the card’s reverse: This is the most successful British racing car built since the end of World War II. It is called the “Cooper-Bristol” because a Bristol-made engine is put into the Cooper-made chassis. The six cylinder overhead valve engines give them lap speeds of 100 mph range. These cars took part in almost every major competition in their class, and always have a very good account of themselves.

More Topps World on Wheels here.