John Cooper ponders the rear suspension of a T83, driver John Fenning is behind him.
   
Charles Cooper had already worked in motor sport as a mechanic and manager to Kaye Don before the war and in 1946 he built the first Coopers, two 500cc machines for his son John and Eric Brandon. The front and rear suspension of these cars used the front end of the Fiat Topolino and the power came from rear-mounted JAP speedway engines. These cars were immediately successful and a batch of customer cars were then built and raced by several up and coming stars including Stirling Moss and Peter Collins. Over the next few years the cars continued to win as yearly updates kept them at the front, in addition Cooper began to build a number of sports racers.
In 1952 the 2-litre Coper-Bristol appeared and a young Mike Hawthorn soon made a name for himself with a string of wins. In 1955 a rear-engined centre-seat sports car was introduced, nicknamed the "bobtail" due to its cut off rear end. Jack Brabham put a Bristol engine in one and entered the British GP, the car was by no means disgraced and Cooper found themselves now building GP cars. Success came quickly, the little rear-engined Coopers with their Coventry Climax engines were initially considered a bit of a joke but with Stirling Moss in the Rob Walker car and Jack Brabham in the works cars they were soon being taken very seriously indeed. In the 1958 Argentinean GP Moss drove a masterful race conserving his tyres whilst the heavy Ferraris had to stop for new rubber, Moss finished the race with his tyres down to the canvas but Cooper had their first GP win. More success followed with Jack Brabham taking back to back World Championship 1n 1959 and 1960.
Cooper were building cars for F1 and F2 as well as sports cars and when the new F3 started Cooper immediately began to produce customer cars, Ken Tyrrell ran the works car for newcomer Jackie Stewart who dominated the years racing. However things were not looking good for Coopers as the decade ran its course, Jack Brabham had left and he had a great influence on developing the cars, Bruce McLaren had taken his place but he would soon be leaving to start his own team. Cooper began to struggle, their F2 and F3 cars were not competitive and people stopped buying them, there was a brief revival for their F1 team in 1966 and '67 when John Surtees and Pedro Rodriguez took a couple of GP wins but the writing was on the wall. Cooper seemed to be from an earlier era that raced for the love of competition and the new more commercialised world was not their way and in 1969 they withdrew from racing.
   
  
Jackie Stewart testing the T72.
 
A stunning Theo Page cutaway of the T72.

The T72 was designed by Eddie Stait and Neil Johanssen and employed a semi stressed-skin construction. This involved wrapping the 20-gauge steel floorpan around the tubular frame and spot welding it on. Front suspension was inboard with a rocker at the top and a wide based wishbone at the bottom. An anti-roll bar attached to the inboard end of the top wishbone. The main suspension pivot loads feed into the front bulkhead which had an 18-gauge steel plate welded across it. At the rear there was a light alloy top link with a lower wishbone plus an additional link behind the axle line to adjust the toe-in, a single top radius rod was also used. The uprights front and rear were magnesium castings. Brakes were Lockheed Mini-Cooper pattern front and rear. Wheels were 13 inch all round.
The engine was a BMC unit derived from the Mini-Cooper 'S'. Dimensions were 71.63mm X 61.91mm with a 12.5:1 compression ratio. A single SU HS6 carburettor with a 36mm choke plate was fitted. Power was quoted as 88bhp @ 7750 rpm.
The oil cooler and radiator were combined and the oil tank sat between the radiator and the foot pedals. Unusually the lower-right frame longeron took the oil to the engine and returned via the top left longeron. The water from the radiator used the other two longerons as was common practice, the cross tube behind the drivers shoulders was the header tank, all the longerons were 16-gauge steel. The gearbox was a Jack Knight 4-speed modified Hillman Imp box fitted with interchangeable ratios.
Cooper were selling the T72 for £1740 with BMC engine or £1325 without engine or gearbox.
The Tyrrell dominated the season with Stewart winning 11 races and Warwick Banks one, in addition they took four 1-2 finishes.
Wheelbase: 91 ins.
Track: front 52 ins. rear 51 ins.

 
  
Warwick Banks in the works T76.

A T76 sitting in the paddock.

The T76 was a modified version of the T72, the front rocker-arm leverage ratio was changed to 2:1 from 1:3 to help damper life and location. The anti-squat was removed from the rear suspension and adjustable Armstrong dampers were fitted. Rearward facing radius rods were attached to the front rockers to deal with braking forces.
Unsurprisingly, in view of the success of the T72, 19 T76 were ordered. Unfortunately the other manufacturers had caught up with Cooper and of course Jackie Stewart was now in F2 so there were only three victories during the year.

 
  
A T83 testing at Goodwood.

Roger Keele in his T83.

 

1966 saw the arrival of the disaster called the T83, once again it was an evolution of the previous car. It retained the spaceframe with semi-stressed steel stiffening, the front suspension was modified to increase the front track and decrease the leverage rate on the front dampers. The rear suspension was completely redesigned to match the geometry of the T81 F1 car and some of the components from the F1 car were also used. The other difference was a sleek new body to give a boost to the straight-line speed. Unfortunately as soon as the car reached any speed terrible amounts of understeer appeared as the front end became unstuck. Modern aerodynamic knowledge points to the new "flat bottom" design (rather than the previous "round bottom") which was preventing trapped air from escaping. Unaware of the problem the front suspension was moved outboard in a copy of the Lotus design but since this wasn't the problem the car wasn't improved. Only seven cars were built and in view of the problems it isn't surprising that results were poor.
 
  
The T85 on display at the Racing Car Show.
Only two T85s were built after the problems of the previous year, the front suspension stayed inboard and it looked very similar to the T83. There are no details of whether the two cars raced, although a BMC-engined T85 was listed as a non-finisher at a Les Leston round at Snetterton in April 1967. It should be said that a new chassis with a BMC engine in 1967 does not seem likely. Seemingly a Ford-engined T85 ran in 1968 in a race at Montlhéry without success. One chassis was listed as a works car but does not seem to have been raced so whether the aerodynamic problems had been cured must remain a moot point.
 

 
Drivers: (N.B. Race reports in the early sixties often didn't specify the chassis type so details are necessarily uncertain)
   
1964

T72
Warwick Banks, Bernhard Baur, Jacques Bernusset,
Jean-Pierre Blanc, Michel Buis, Leo Cella, Michel Dagorne, Paul Deetens, Yves Deprez, Andrew Fletcher, Jean-Claude Franck, Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, John Love, Eric Offenstadt, André Periat, Peter Revson, John Rhodes, Pierre Ryser, Rob Slotemaker, Jackie Stewart, Jean Wauters.

T67
Charles Crichton-Stuart, Fritz Heini, Alain Jamar, Trevor Shatwell.

T65
Egert Haglund.

T59
Mike Budge, Hartvig Conradsen, John Greene, Otto Lux, Rolf Scheel, Günther Schramm.

T56
Michel Dourel, Theo Harzheim, Gerry Meharey, Joachim Münchow, Paul Poty.

T52
Vincenzo d'Arrigo, Karl-Adolf Kneip.

?
Bruno Deserti, Fritz Kallenberger, Guy Ligier, Harald Limberger, Richard Peel, Jacques Pouzet, Laurent Rotti.

   
1965

T76
Clive Baker, Warwick Banks, Rodney Banting, Jacques Bernusset,Jean Blanc, Bob Bondurant, Gunnar Carlsson, Charles Crichton-Stuart, Yves Deprez, John Fenning, Rollo Fielding, Andrew Fletcher, Mike Herbertson, Seppo Keinänen, Mike Knight, Steve Matchett, Leo Matilla, Paul Poty, Yngve Rosqvist, Pierre Ryser, Nestor Salerno, Julien Vernaeve.

T72
René Abbal, Trevor Bibb, Henning Bock, John Brindley, Michel Buis, Robert Challoy, Joseph/Georges Choukroun, Paul Deetens, Jean Denton, Gustave 'Taf' Gosselin, Frank Williams.

T67
Lars Bjuhr, John Kendall, Luigi Petri.

T59
Sven Andersson, Georg Duneborn, Sven-Olof Gunnarsson, Åke Lindberg, Otto Lux, Günther Schramm, "Peter Silvester".

T52
Paul Andersen.

?
Sven Andersson, Georges Ansermoz, Clive Baker, Lars Bjuher, Jean Durif, Sven Fürstenhof, Egert Haglund, Fritz Kallenberger, Hellfried von Kiwisch, Mike Knight, Giovanni Ballico Lay, Jean-Christian Legarth, Hasse Nilsson, Ib Ödgaard, Laurent Rotti, Hardy Sandstrom, Frank Williams.

   
1966

T83
Clive Baker, Jean-Pierre Cassegrain, Jeremy Dobson, Hughes de Fierlandt, Keith Greene, Mike Herbertson, "Josse" (Joseph/Georges Choukron), John Kendall, Len Selby, Lars-Åke Tejby, Barrie Williams.

T76
Jean Blanc, Howard Bennett, John Brindley, Jean-Pierre Cassegrain, Eddie Coates, Barry Collerson, Jeremy Dobson, Barrie Ford, Kurt Keller, John Kendall, Tico Martini, Leo Matilla, Reine Wisell.

T72
Jean Blanc, Henning Bock, Joseph/Georges Choukron, Jeremy Dobson, James Eatherley, Alain Jamar, "Josse" (Joseph/Georges Choukron), Bob King, Hans Nilsson, John Patterson, Mike Peel, Richard Peel, Hans Sjosted.

T59
Günther Schramm.

T56
Gerry Meharey.

T52
Vincenzo d'Arrigo.

?
Svenharry Åkesson, Georges Ansermoz, Jacques Bernusset, Reiner Boczek, Heinrich Brendt, Valerio Campanati, Remigio Cianfriglia, Hans-Joachim Holze, Vladimir Kutra, J Mead, Hans Nilsson, Ib Ödgaard, Laurent Rotte, Pierre Ryser, "Peter Silvester", Jean Sodreau, Raymond Sodreau.

   
1967

T85 (see "1967" above)
Mike Peel.

T83
Georges Ansermoz, Hughes de Fierlandt, Roger Keele, Ray O'Connor, Len Selby.

T76/83
Mike Herbertson.

T76
Bev Bond, Jeremy Dobson, Gunnar Elmgren, Reg Forrester-Smith, Rolf Gröndahl, René Scalais, Lars-Åke Tejby, Thorkild Thyrring, Jimmy Veitch.

T72
Jeremy Dobson, James Eatherley, Dave Rees.

T67
Ole Björn Damm, Mike Peel.

T59
Eberhard Heidler.

?
Phil Anderson, Heinrich Brendt, Bror-Erland Carlsson, Barrie Ford, Olavi Kuikka, Robert Lassus, Wolfgang Ott, Ernst Schelble, Jean-Bernard Sulpice.

   
1968

T85 (see "1967" above)
Ray O'Connor.

T83
"Walli".

T76
Gaston Baillen, Roger Hansen, Rene Scalais, Lars-Åke Tejby.

T63
Josef Kremer.

?
Bror-Erland Carlsson, Roland Hedmo, Roland Löwgren, Laurent Rotti.

   
1969

T76
Rene Scalais.

T63
Josef Kremer.

   
1970

T76
Rene Scalais.

T59
Josef Kremer.

   
1971

?
Wolfgang Ott.

   
1972

?
Wolfgang Ott.