This 1961 Cooper T55 was driven by Bruce McLaren for the cooper team during the 1961 Grand Prix Season. Notable results include a second at the Aintree 200, 6th at Monaco GP, 5th at the French GP, 8th at the British GP, 6th at German GP, 3rd at Italian Grand Prix, and 4th in the US Grand Prix.
At the end of the season the Cooper Car Company finished in fourth place in the Constructors Championship.
This car is powered by a four-cylinder engine capable of producing 190 horsepower. It has a Jack Knight six-speed manual gearbox and a wishbone and coil spring suspension. The car rests on 15-inch Dunlop racing tires.
1960 was the final year for the 2.5-liter regulations. Cooper and Brabham claimed their second World Championship. Except for a victory by Stirling Moss in a Lotus at Monaco, and a Phil Hill victory at Monza in a Ferrari, all races were won by Cooper. The British had boycotted the Italian race at Monza since the circuit was using banked turns.
The mid-engined layout revolutionized F1, with most marque's adapting the style for the 1960 and 1961 season.
The T55 was a continuation of the prior Owen Maddock designed Cooper F1 cars, with changes such as a six-speed gearbox, and a smaller and lower exterior. The slimming down of the vehicles was due to the regulation changes which changed displacement size from 2.5-liters to 1.5-liters. Work began on a 1.5-liter V8 engine, but it would not be ready until the close of the 1961 season. The team hoped their four-cylinder unit, which produced around 150 horsepower, and six-speed gearbox would be enough. Other teams, such as Ferrari, were producing considerably more horsepower from their engines. The Ferrari created nearly 190 horsepower while Porsche produced about 180 horsepower.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2007
Factory drivers at the start of the season were Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren. As always, the Cooper team was well prepared and their cars had been tested and were ready to go by the start of the season. For Cooper, the season would not be another repeat of their prior two years of Championship Winning performances. They would end the season in fourth place after scoring fourteen points. Ferrari would win most of the races during the season, with their factory drivers Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips. Though the season went to Ferrari, the season ended in tragedy for them, as Trips collided with Jim Clark at Monza, killing Trips and fourteen spectators. Lotus managed a few victories throughout the season and ended in second place, followed by Porsche.
During the 1958-59 European racing season, the Cooper was the only rear-engined Grand Prix contender, and within three years, the front-engined cars had virtually disappeared. Many consider the 2.5-litre Formula 1 Cooper-Climax (engine was made by Coventry Climax) to be the most successful Grand Prix racer Britain ever produced; it took over where the front-engined Vanwall racer had left off. The Cooper-Climax brought England the Constructors' Championship twice running, provided the mount for Jack Brabham's two World Championships, initiated a design trend followed throughout Europe, and eventually influenced American track-racing car design. In the 1960 season, Brabham won five Grand Prix in a row in a Cooper, and Coopers won a total of ten Grand Prix that year.
Cooper won back-to-back World Championship titles in 1959 and 1960. During the early 1960s, the team suffered as delays for the new 1.5-liter BRM and Coventry Climax Formula 1 engines forced the use of Formula 2 derived Coventry Climax FPF 4-cylinder power plants. The 120-degree V6 4-cam engined 'Sharknose' Ferraris would dominate the handicap and underpowered Coopers. The British teams did all they could to compensate for the modest power. The cars became smaller than ever before, even though the new Formula regulations imposed a minimum weight limit, higher than that of the 2.5-liter class of the previous year.
There were only two dedicated works team cars built, chassis number F1/10/61 and F1/11/61. F1/11 was campaigned by Sir Jack's team-mate Bruce McLaren.
Cooper's engineers were able to slim down the original gearwheels and pack in six where once lived five. This helped the driver's balance the narrow torque band, especially in wet weather.
The T55's made their racing debut at the Aintree '200' race. The 6-speed cars finished first in second in the heavy rain, with Jack Brabham crossing the line first, followed by Bruce McLaren.
At Monaco, Brabham was in midfield before retiring with ignition trouble. At the Dutch Grand Prix, Brabham finished in sixth and then a fourth at Brands Hatch on June 3rd in 1961. In the wet at the British Grand Prix in Aintree, Brabham finished fourth.
For the German Grand Prix, the new T55-based racer, the unique T58, was readied which brought an end to the T55 chassis number 10's works career.
The T55 cars accumulated 13 finishes from 19 starts during the 1961 Formula 1 season. The highlight was the debut victory at Aintree by Jack Brabham.
In early 1962, F1/10 was brought to New Zealand by Sir Jack, where it was campaigned in the Tasman series. There, it was given a 2.7 and 2.5-liter Climax FPF engines to suit. At Longford, Tasmania, Sir Jack finished second in this car.
The car was then sold to Tasmanian John Youl who campaigned the car through 1964. Since then, the car has been well preserved in private collections and used in various vintage events.
In 2009, this monoposto was offered for sale by Bonhams Auction at the Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club in Carmel, CA. It was estimated to sell for $250,000 - $350,000. As bidding came to a close, the lot had been sold for the sum of $216,000 inclusive of Buyer's Premium.