Cooper Mk VI T18 Formula Junior
Cooper Ford Formula Junior
Cooper Mk IV T18 500 – Chassis 1052
Race ready, with rebuilt engine, gearbox, suspension and brakes. OMP FIA extinguisher and foam filled tanks. Unique cross-over car that offers excellent value for money and that is eligible for the best historic racing events on the calendar.
Affectionately known in historic racing as the “Ugly Duck”, the car started its life in 1952 as an F3 Cooper 500 and is believed to have originally been fitted with Norton 500cc engine. In 1954 the car was then exported into Rhodesia by one of the Ferguson brothers and it is thought that it was almost immediately sold on to Jimmy de Villiers (of Cooper Bristol fame) and raced regularly in South African meetings. Unfortunately few race records exist from that period, but what is known is that Cooper 1052 was raced in its original form until at least 1958.
An attempt was made to start a Formula Junior series in South Africa in 1960, but it failed to get off the ground. The Cooper was converted at this time to its current Formula Junior specification with a 997cc Ford MAE engine and a Porsche split case 365A gearbox. New rear suspension was made (which used the original Cooper uprights and drum brakes) and a new aluminium body. The first recorded appearance of this now Formula Junior Cooper was in 1962, when driven by Ray Reed. Ray raced the car irregularly for several years in a variety of races before it went to ground in the early ‘70s (Ray Reed also built and raced an Alfa powered F1 car of his own design which was entered under the banner of his company, Ray’s Engineering). There were many such conversions carried out in the early days of Formula Junior, but they soon disappeared as they quickly became obsolete with the arrival of purpose built factory cars. With this Cooper being one of only two such conversions that survive today, it is a rarity indeed.
The car’s FIA Historic Technical Passport was issued in 2005 (I have a copy of this in the history file, along with some photos of the car in SA) and its last race in SA was at Kyalami in May 2014 (having ran in the South African Historic Championship from 2012-2014 with motor-sport historian, and owner, Brian Tyler at the wheel). After 51 years in the southern hemisphere the car was returned to the UK in 2015 and was bought by the current owner/seller. Following a light restoration and addition of a roll-over hoop and belts, the car competed in select events in the 2017 UK Formula Junior Championship racing at Cadwell, Brands Hatch, Croft and Snetterton (as well as completing two test days and a rolling road set up).
Since 2017 the Cooper has undergone a more extensive overhaul with a complete engine rebuild by JD Autoworx (zero miles), foam filled tanks, new battery, new Avo shocks all round and new rear springs (zero miles), new brake cylinders and new historic spec brake friction material (Mintex - zero miles). The seatbelts are in date until 2022 and the FIA spec OMP fire extinguisher is at the correct pressure (though do note that it needs to be checked and signed off before racing). The car is all ready for a rolling road set up.
Formula Junior is one of the finest historic categories out there, with a great UK Championship, FIA European Championship and hill-climb Championship. Cooper 1052 offers an inexpensive entry into Formula Junior and is the least expensive complete ready to race car available in the category (by a good margin). Being a unique and important car in the category it would be more than welcome at some of the finest race events on the calendar. Special events include the Goodwood Revival and Members Meetings, The Monaco Historic Grand Prix, Silverstone Classic, Pau Historic, The Copenhagen Grand Prix, Spa Six Hour meeting and Algarve Classic. Being a 1000cc Formula Junior (Class C1) it can also run in the UK races that are solely for the earlier front engine FJ cars, and because of its age it would be welcomed to race in VRSCC races for 1950s race cars. Finally, it is also able to race in the Historic 750 Formula Series (750 Motor Club). Few cars have as many events they can race in each year!
In the right hands the car is capable of winning its class (Class C1 – rear engine pre-31st Dec 1960 cars with drum brakes). Having been subject to a recent overhaul it is in good working order while retaining lots of patina as a used and working race car.