The Cooper Car Company was a British team that raced in Formula One for nine years between 1950 and 1969. It has had 129 Grands Prix starts and won back to back constructors’ titles combined with both the drivers’ titles as well, in 1959 and 1960.
The Cooper Car Company was founded in 1946 by the father-son duo of Charles and John Cooper, and John's childhood friend, Eric Brandon. They started off by building racing cars in Charles' garage in England. They achieved remarkable success in the 1950s and early 1960s in Formula One. Moreover, they were partly responsible for setting up the foundation for a successful racing industry in the country, which continues to exist even today.
Until the later 50s, Cooper achieved most of its success in Formula Two and Formula Three. In 1957, the team got its first major breakthrough in Formula One when Jack Brabham won the year’s Monaco Grand Prix in a Formula 2 Cooper. In the following season, Stirling Moss won the Argentine Grand Prix and Maurice Trintignant won in Monaco both in rear engine Coopers. This marked the beginning of the rear engine revolution.
1959 saw the British dominating the sport as Cooper clinched its first Formula One championship, BRM won its first race, and Jack Brabham won the drivers’ title in a Cooper. The team took over from where its British counterparts Vanwall left off by winning five races out of nine that season. In 1960, it replicated the feat dominating other teams, with Jack Brabham winning five consecutive races in his Cooper. The team finished with a healthy lead over its rivals in the constructors’ standings as well, managing to defend both its titles successfully. It was also the last Formula One season to have an Indianapolis 500 race, and the last season which saw a victory by a front engine car.
When all the other teams also started building rear engine cars, Cooper was unable to match the technological advancement of bigger teams such as Ferrari, Lotus and Lola, and thus started its downfall. When John Cooper was gravely injured in a road accident in 1963, the team went into further disarray, and was eventually sold in 1965 after the death of Charles Cooper. The team won only three races after its title winning campaign in 1960; Pedro Rodriguez won the last grand prix for Cooper in 1967 at Kyalami. Thereafter, the team withdrew from Formula One after some dismal performances in 1969.
Born in a small town garage in England, the Cooper Car Company was the brainchild of a father and son, who realized their dreams of winning Formula One races, and world championships through their constant endeavour. Notable drivers such as Stirling Moss, John Surtees and Jack Brabham raced for the team making it a force to reckon with in the 60s. Unable to live up to its top billing, the team exited the sport eventually, but not without leaving its indelible mark on the Formula One history.