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John Cooper is responsible for the rear engine revolution that has dominated the racing world since the sixties. Though the configuration was used by the 'Silver Arrows' team in their bulky grand prix racers, the practice had faded. Cooper moved the motorcycle engine that powered his tiny Formula 3 racer to the back to more easily accommodate its chain drive.

His success bred this 1100cc Coventry Climax powered and transaxle driven 'Bobtail' racer.

In mid-to-late 1954, Owen Maddock, at the Cooper Car Co., Ltd., began designing Cooper's new 1100cc sports car. At about that same time, Leonard Lee of Coventry Climax Ltd. allowed his engineers to begin production the FWA (Feather Weight Automotive) for the British specialists of that era. John Cooper was responsible for the decision to place the Coventry Climax engine in the rear of the new 1100cc sports car, but it was Owen Maddock who is credited with the unique and renowned design feature of the car now known as the 'Bobtail' or 'Manx-tail.'

This Cooper Bobtail is one of only 13 known survivors of the approximately 39 originally built. Although long identified as one of the 1957 cars, this Bobtail is actually a 1956 works car. The car appears to have been retained by the factory until the end of the racing season and then sold and thus creating confusion over the years of the manufacture. With its original chassis, racing scars helped identify this car as one of the cars that Jack Brabham raced along with other works driver Michael MacDowel. Mr. MacDowel drove the car at Goodwood on September 8th of 1956 at the Sussex Trophy Race.

This car was raced by Sir Jack Brabham along with other works drivers in period. This was Brabham's personal works car in 1956 as evidenced by correspondence with Michael MacDowel. Mr. MacDowel, also one of the works drivers, drove the car at Goodwood on September 8, 1956, at the Sussex Trophy race at the behest of Brabham and John Cooper. He finished 1st in class and 6th overall. With an impressive memory, MacDowel recalled that Brabham and John Cooper asked him to drive the factory Bobtail in order to allow Brabham to enter the race with his prototype Formula 2 car.

The Cooper Bobtail was an immediate success on the track. Many of the most successful drivers in racing history drove a Bobtail including Sir Stirling Moss. The Bobtail was a very successful endeavor for Cooper and was the first in line of the rear engine cars leading to the Formula 1 version that propelled Cooper back-to-back World Championships in 1959-1960. This little car changed the face of motor racing by moving the engine to the rear.

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No auction information available for this vehicle at this time.

Recent Sales of the Cooper T39

(Data based on Model Year 1956 sales)
1956 Cooper T39 Bobtail
Chassis#: CS/3/56
Sold for USD$150,625
  2019 Bonhams : The Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale
 
1956 Cooper-CLIMAX TYPE 39 ‘BOBTAIL' SPORTS-RACING TWO-SEATER
Chassis#: CS/52/56
Sold for USD$77,538
  2003 Bonhams - Goodwood Revival
 

Cooper T39s That Failed To Sell At Auction

1956 Cooper T39's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High
1956 Cooper-Climax 1.5 Liter T-39 Bobtail Sports-RacingCS11-12-562020 Bonhams : Scottsdale Arizona $125,000$150,000
1956 Cooper-Climax 1.5-Liter T39 Bobtail Sports RacerCS/9/562019 Bonhams : Quail Lodge Auction $125,000$150,000
1956 Cooper-Climax 1.5 Liter T-39 Bobtail Sports-Racing, Center-SeaterCS11-12-562019 Bonhams : Quail Lodge Auction $190,000$230,000
1956 Cooper-Climax 1.5 Liter T-39 Bobtail Sports-Racing, Center-SeaterCS11-12-562019 Bonhams : Amelia Island $190,000$230,000
1956 Cooper Climax Type 39 BobtailCS/52/562011 RM Auctions London$136,850$95,000$125,000

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1956 Cooper T39 Profiles