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  Article Image gallery (8) F1/10/61 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced in:1961
Numbers built:2
Designed by:Owen Maddock
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:September 12, 2019
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Click here to download printer friendly versionThe new regulations introduced for the 1961 Formula 1 World Championship left all British teams on the back foot. Neither Coventry Climax or BRM had a 1.5-litre engine ready that could rival Ferrari's V6 for power. Both British engine builders were working on bespoke V8s but in the meantime offered their customers, including Cooper, a four-cylinder engine to race.

While awaiting the new Coventry Climax V8, Cooper opted to produce an interim car for defending World Champion Jack Brabham and his young team-mate Bruce McLaren to race during the 1961 season. Dubbed the T55, it was for all intents and purposes a downsized version of the successful 2.5-litre T53 'Lowline' used so successfully the previous season.

Appropriately nicknamed the 'Slimline', the T55 Cooper featured a lightened version of the existing spaceframe chassis. Also carried over was the double-wishbone suspension with disc brakes on all four corners. New to the T55 was a six-speed version of the Cooper gearbox. As the 1.5-litre Climax FPF engined produced less torque and power, smaller gears could be used, freeing up space for a sixth.

Brabham and McLaren debuted the T55 in the non-championship Aintree 200 race. In torrential conditions, the two new Coopers finished a promising first and second with Brabham leading McLaren home. This turned out to be the only Formula 1 victory win for the T55 as the FPF engine proved no match for the more powerful Ferrari V6 engine, and Cooper had also lost the mid-engine edge it held during the previous years.

Towards the end of the 1961 season, Brabham stepped up to the Climax V8 engined T58 and at eventually the two T55s were retired from Grand Prix Racing. One was subsequently uprated to 2.7-litre 'Libre' specification for Tasman races while the other was campaigned by privateers. Brabham used his car to win two races 'Down Under' early in 1962.

Although both of the 'interim' T55s were raced for many seasons, both have survived.

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  Article Image gallery (8) F1/10/61 Specifications