Posts Tagged ‘Cooper Spaceframe Chassis’

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Mike Barney prepares Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren’s Cooper T53 Climax’, French GP Reims, 3 July 1960…

That racing drivers shouldn’t have too much imagination is shown by this shot!

#16 is Brabham’s winning chassis, #18 McLaren’s third placed car. Olivier Gendebien was second and Henry Taylor fourth in T51’s making it a Cooper 1-4!

Yer ‘fancy-schmancy’ high tech relatively, I say it again, relatively safe 2017 carbon fibre GP machine is another world away, 55 years or so to be precise. Mind you, one would hope we would progress.

Owen Maddock’s curvy spaceframe chassis is typical of the day, the spaceframe anyway if not the imperfect in an engineering sense bent tubes! At the front the water radiator and oil tank are the ‘deformable structures’ ahead of the drivers ankles and lower legs. The fuel tanks are neatly and very practically ‘bungee’ strapped to the chassis and prone to leakage as the ‘ally tanks chafe on the steel chassis tubes. The ‘deformable side structures’ are the tanks, no bag bladders in those days so the risk of fire was great, prevalent and occasionally fatal.

The 2.5 litre Coventry Climax FPF powered T53 ‘Lowline’ was the 1960 successor to the race-winning and built in vast numbers 1958/9 T51. That car in both F2 and F1 spec has to be one of the greatest customer racing cars ever? T53 was the design work of Jack, John Cooper and Maddock.  The Lotus 18, Chapmans first mid-engined car was the quickest bolide of 1960. Moss took wins in Rob Walker’s car at Monaco and in the season ending US GP at Riverside but it was not the most reliable, something Jack was happy to capitalise upon.

McLaren won the Argentinian GP at the seasons outset, then Jack had an amazing mid-season run winning the Dutch GP on 6 June and the Portuguese GP on 14 August. In between Zandvoort and Oporto he won the Belgian, French and British GP’s thereby setting up his and Cooper’s second world titles on the trot.

Its good to look at these cars in the ‘nuddy’ every now and again to remind oneself of just how close to the elements and how brave the drivers of yore were. Yep, the piloti are no more exposed than they had been in the past but the cornering speeds of a 1960 2.5 litre Cooper or Lotus were a good deal quicker than a 1954 2.5 litre Maser 250F, the road circuits in particular just as hazardous…

Cooper T53 Climax cutaway by Brian Hatton

Credits…

GP Library, Brian Hatton