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  Cooper T86C Alfa Romeo      

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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1968
Numbers built:1
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionAfter the introduction of the '3-litre' regulations at the start of the 1966, Cooper were struggling to find a suitable engine. Especially in the first year of the new regulations most teams were trying out various configurations, ranging from all new engines to modified 2.5 litre Tasman engines. Cooper hooked up with the Italian Maserati company, which supplied a V12 engine to the British team. Based on the V12 first designed for the Maserati 250F in 1957, this engine was by no means new. Points were scored and John Surtees scored Cooper's first Grand Prix victory in four years at the end of the season in Mexico.

Maserati announced its withdrawal from motor racing at the end of the 1967 season, leaving Cooper engine-less for 1968. BRM had just launched a customer version of their new V12 engine, which was an obvious choice for the British team. In the hands of Jochen Rindt, the BRM-powered Cooper T86B made its debut in the 1968 British Grand Prix. First introduced in 1967, the Cosworth DFV V8 proved to be the superior engine in 1968, this inspired John Cooper to search for a V8 engine to power his F1 cars as well. With Cosworth already supplying engines to Lotus, McLaren and Ken Tyrrell's Matra, they could not handle another customer.

Alfa Romeo were busy developing a new 3-litre V8 engine for sportscar racing, which the Milanese company could easily be modified to suit Formula 1 needs. Cooper constructed a single chassis to accomodate the Italian V8 engine, T86C F1-3-68. Livered in red with two white stripes, the Cooper Alfa Romeo was tested once by Lucien Bianchi, but the engine proved to be underpowered. Two new and more powerful engines were tested on the Alfa Romeo benches, but neither engine survived the test. Bianchi was set to drive the Cooper Alfa Romeo, but the engine's poor performance forced Alfa Romeo to withdraw the engine, leaving Cooper engineless. A blow the once successful manufacturer would be able to overcome.

In 1968 Formula quickly revolutionized from a sport to a business, with sponsor markings taking over from the traditional liveries. Another big revolution of 1968 was the introduction of aerofoils and other aerodynamic devices. Once the sport's biggest innovators with their ground breaking and Championship winning mid-engined racers, Cooper was the biggest victim of these big changes and left the sport at the end of the season.

Today T86C is restored in its Formula 1 shape and fitted with a bored out Alfa Romeo Montreal engine, which shares its design with T33 sportscar engine. The owner is currently looking for a proper T33 engine to finish off the restoration. It is pictured here in the Grand Prix Masters race, part of the 2004 Oldtimer Grand Prix on the Nürburgring.

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  Article Image gallery (9) Specifications User Comments (3)