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  Article Image gallery (7) F1-5-66 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1966
Successor:Cooper T86 Maserati
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:March 16, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAt the end of the 1950s Cooper had kickstarted a revolution in Formula 1 with their mid-engined racers. They exploited the advantage perfectly by scoring back to back world championships with Jack Brabham in 1959 and 1960. Soon after the competition had caught on, Cooper gradually started to loose ground to the likes of Lotus, BRM and Ferrari. Things did not get any easier in the high tech 1.5 litre regulations in the first half of the 1960s. When they were replaced with new 3 litre regulations for 1966, all teams were forced to start from scratch, giving Cooper the best chance in years.

Sadly most of the momentum was lost with the untimely death of Charles Cooper and the sale of the team to Chipstead. Like all the other independent teams, Cooper's biggest concern was to find a suitable engine for the new season. BRM was working on a complicated sixteen-cylinder engine and long-time supplier Coventry Climax had no suitable engine available at all. Through Chipstead, who were also the British Maserati importer, Cooper found a willing engine supplier. The Italians offered to provide the V12 engine used in the final version of the 250 F, in modified, three litre form.

Derrick White was commissioned to design Cooper's very first monocoque chassis to house the Italian V12 engine. Dubbed the T81, the new 3-litre car was very conventional, perhaps with the exception of the front disc brakes, which were installed on the inside of the hub between the wishbones. Giulio Alfieri extensively reworked the almost ten year old engine, which produced a claimed 360 bhp. The Cooper team had always believed in the power of numbers and at various races in 1966, they fielded up to five Maserati powered T81s. Jochen Rindt scored the company's first Grand Prix win since 1962 at the Mexican Grand Prix and Pedro Rodriguez added another one in the 1967 opener in South Africa.

The biggest problem of the 3-litre Coopers was the relatively high weight and in 1967 a lighter T81B was tried, but with little success. Later that season, the unique T86 debuted, which was indeed lighter and slimmer, but its record of four retirements out of four starts was very poor. After two seasons, Maserati already had enough leaving Cooper without an engine for 1968. Fortunately BRM had abandoned their H16 program in favour of a far less complex V12 engine, which they were willing to offer in 'sportscar' trim to Cooper. Three new T86Bs were constructed for the 375 bhp BRM engines.

Weighing in at around 560 kg, the BRM-engined T86B was among the heaviest cars on the 1968 grid. If that was not a big enough disadvantage, their version of the V12 engine was also the least powerful. A fatal crash of their lead driver Ludovico Scarfiotti in a hillclimb Porsche made things where possible even worse for Cooper. Two podium finishes at Jarama and Monaco were the rare highlights of the season. Back home, the lack of success and demand from customers had brought the company in big financial difficulties. Cooper would not return to Formula 1 and all the assets were sold in July 1969.

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  Article Image gallery (7) F1-5-66 Specifications