A World Champion’s F1 Cooper–Linked To Jack Brabham And Jackie Stewart–For Sale At Bonhams’ Goodwood Revival Auction
The Goodwood Revival, the latest running of which is this weekend, is well known as an inimitable historic racing festival. And appropriately the Bonhams Goodwood Revival Sale taking place at the event this Saturday includes a significant racing machine from history, with a link to not one but two legendary three-time Formula 1 world champions. Going under the hammer is an ultra-rare Cooper-Climax T55 Formula 1 car driven by then-reigning double champion Sir Jack Brabham in the 1961 F1 season—and even better all proceeds from the sale will go to Race Against Dementia.
This is the charity founded by another household name from F1 heritage, Sir Jackie Stewart, to fund scientific research into dementia after his wife, Lady Helen Stewart, was diagnosed with the disease. Stewart also will be attending the sale and the T55 is estimated to raise £100,000 to £150,000. It also is offered without reserve.
Brabham and the Cooper team won back-to-back F1 championship doubles in 1959 and ’60, however for ’61 in a major regulation change 1.5-liter engines replaced the previous 2.5. Cooper team boss John Cooper, chief designer Owen Maddock and Brabham himself therefore designed a ‘slimline’ version of their 1960 car, which became the T55. But the new BRM and Coventry Climax 1.5-liter units were delayed leaving Cooper to use Formula 2-derived Climax FPF 4-cylinder engines, and unable to compete with the famous Ferrari ‘shark nose’.
Brabham raced this very car for sale, chassis F1/10/61, one of only two T55s made, in five F1 world championship grands prix in 1961. He had early success with it too in non-championship F1 races, winning on the car’s debut in the sodden ‘Aintree 200’, with his team-mate Bruce McLaren second in the other T55. Brabham then finished fourth with the car in the Syracuse Grand Prix in Sicily.
Come the F1 championship season, Brabham in the Monaco Grand Prix drove the car in midfield before retiring with ignition trouble. He then got it home sixth in the Dutch Grand Prix and took it to fourth in the British Grand Prix at Aintree. For the next race, the German Grand Prix, a third T55-based chassis–the T58–was readied, ending this particular T55’s works career.
It wasn’t the end for the car though, as Brabham finished second with it in that year’s Oulton Park Gold Cup then in early 1962 raced it, with 2.5 and 2.7-liter engines, in Australia and New Zealand and took two wins and a second place. The T55 was then sold to Tasmanian John Youl who campaigned it throughout 1963 and ‘64. Since, it has been preserved and passed to various private collections, including that of Hollywood movie director David Cronenberg, who has raced it successfully in various historic events.
Stewart has his own connection to Cooper, as he campaigned a Cooper Monaco sports prototype in 1964 for Ecurie Ecosse, winning his first six races. This included Goodwood in September and that impressive performance led to him joining the Tyrrell Formula 3 racing team–the rest, as they say, is history.
This Cooper T55 for sale has been generously gifted to Race Against Dementia by Peter Livanos, who oversaw the car’s professional cosmetic restoration by marque specialist, the late Urban Fässler, for static display.
“The Cooper Climax T55 is a beautiful machine, that any collector can be seriously privileged to own,” Stewart said. “Early Coopers revolutionized Formula 1 motor racing. Charles Cooper and John Cooper created a new wave of technology. Jack Brabham at the time was one of the greatest drivers and demonstrated his skills successfully on this car. I myself chose to drive a Cooper when I signed with Ken Tyrrell in 1964 because I had such confidence in the Cooper.”
Images courtesy of Bonhams