During the 1948/49 winter there was a great deal of work in progress on Cooper cars being fitted with 1,000-c.c. engines. As a development of the production 500, some cars were being fitted with 995-c.c. V-twin J.A.P. engine, while others were having the Vincent "Black Lightning" or " Rapide" engines fitted. On paper it appeared that the Vincent-engined Coopers would be a serious opposition to all comers at sprint meetings and would also be a force to be reckoned with in Formula B events. As it has turned out the J.A.P.-engined cars have had the greater amount of success, especially in sprints and short circuit events.
The chief protagonist of the J.A.P. 1,000's has been the young Stirling Moss, now in his twentieth year, and he had his new Cooper fitted with a special V-twin J.A.P., which had dry-sump lubrication, in place of the rather vague total loss system normally employed. Also his engine was fitted with alloy barrels and twin Lucas Magnetos, while the chassis differed mainly in having rack and pinion steering gear. Throughout the season Moss has competed in a very full program of sprints, hill-climbs and races on the British calendar as well as venturing abroad for some formula B events. In the British events the results have left nothing to be desired, while on the Continent, although the car has proved more than a match for the unblown eleven hundreds, it has been unable to compete against the full formula B cars of the 2-litres capacity. It has, however, made a very good impression upon the Continentals, who at first viewed the Cooper 1,000 with rather tolerant smiles, for to their eyes it looked somewhat freakish and rather old fashioned, with its twin cylinder engine and chain drive. When they saw how a Cooper could go their tolerance changed to admiration, so much so that at the last meeting on the Continent at which Moss appeared, which was the Prix du Leman at Lausanne in Switzerland, he was awarded a special prize for the most meritorious performance of the meeting, for he had recorded third fastest practice time, against the new Simcas and 2-litre Ferraris.
In races at home the Cooper 1,000's have made as lasting an impression as their little brothers made when they first appeared. At the opening of the English season at Goodwood, in the Second Easter Handicap, Moss ran away with the race, winning at 79.76 m.p.h., with a fastest lap at 82.44 m.p.h., a speed which would be very creditable for the largest of cars. G.E. Abecassis finished third with his Vincent-engined Cooper.
It was perhaps in the I.O.M. Manx Cup Race that the Coopers really got into their stride, although only for a short time for they ran into a variety of troubles. Apart from this they showed their capabilities in no mean manner, and in practice Moss lapped at 72.35 m.p.h., which compares more than favorably with Parnell's record lap at 75.08 m.p.h. with his CLT/48 Maserati. In the race Moss established a formidable lead right from the start and looked an easy winner until, three laps from the finish, he had to retire with ignition trouble. Abecassis had crashed during practice, smashing the car very badly, Winterbottom had to retire, with his Vincent-engined model, and this left John Cooper (J.A.P.) to be the only Cooper to finish, coming home in sixth place with a badly misfiring engine. Although the results were not impressive, it was obvious that on a small circuit the Cooper 1,000's were going to need a great deal of beating, once reliability had been obtained.
After this, Stirling Moss made his Continental debut, at the Circuito di Garda, in Italy, when he finished third in the general classification behind two 2-litre Ferraris. The race was run in two heats and a final and Moss finished third in both his heat and the final, on both occasions behind Viloresi and Tadini, just over two minutes behind the latter in the final, and four minutes ahead of the next competitor in the 1,100-c.c. class. While not proving any serious competition to the first-line Formula B cars, the Cooper made a very good impression and proved to be quite capable of competing in full Formula events without disgracing itself.
Following this first essay abroad, three cars competed in the Coupe des Petit Cylinders, which preceded the French Grand Prix at Rheims; these were Moss, Abecassis with his Vincent engine in a new chassis, and W.F. Aston with a 995-c.c. J.A.P. model. This meeting turned out to be another troublesome one for the Coopers, as all three cars had bother, Aston completing only four laps before succumbing to carburetor maladies, Abecassis with gearbox trouble and Moss broke a chain on his third lap; he replaced it however, and continued to lap fairly consistently a long way behind the rest of the field.
A return to English racing, this time at Blandford, resulted in better luck and in the two heats for the Blandford Trophy, Cooper 1,000's were the winners, E. Brandon, with a J.A.P. engine, winning the first heat at 82.03 m.p.h. The outcome of the final will never be known as the race had to be abandoned as the result of a crash, but there is little doubt that the Cooper 1,000 was ideally suited to the Blandford circuit. On this occasion Hartwell and Winterbottom were driving Vincent-engine cars, but they proved to be not quite so rapid as the J.A.P. models.
As already mentioned, Moss returned to the Continent once more for the Prix du Leman, but again had trouble and had to retire when lying fifth. To close the 1949 racing season Moss, Brandon, Aston, Cooper and W.J. Whitehouse all competed in the first scratch event at the closing Goodwood meeting and ran away with the event, the finishing order being Moss, Brandon and Whitehouse, with Moss making fastest lap at the incredible speed for a 1-litre car of 84.7 m.p.h. This terrific effort seemed to have been too much for the cars of Moss and Brandon for in their next race they both retired with gearbox trouble, which is not really surprising as the Norton gearboxes used on these cars were never really intended to transmit the power of a 995-c.c. J.A.P. For the big race of the day, the Goodwood Trophy, Moss borrowed John Cooper's car and, although he took the lead at the start, he had to retire before the end of the second lap.
For their first season of road-racing, the Coopers have made a most lasting impression and it is to be hoped that the petty troubles experienced during the 1949 season will soon be overcome and the cars will continue to travel abroad and show the Continental countries that England is still capable of producing worthwhile machines.
While the racing was going on, Cooper 1,000's were accomplishing remarkable feats in the sprint world and at least one car could guarantee to appear within the first six fastest times at any meeting. As well as racing, Moss appeared in the majority of sprint events and in company with Brandon, Cooper and M.A.H. Christie, also with a J.A.P. engine, upheld the Cooper honours in no mean manner.
Article Date: Dec 09, 2002||
||Return to Previous Page|