Cooper T51

Cooper T51

by Luca Dal Monte

With the T51, John Cooper brings the wind of revolution to Formula 1. In the history of this sport, there is indeed a before and after the appearance of the Cooper T51. The reason is soon said: in a racing world where fifteen years after the end of World War II, pre-war technology is still effectively used, Cooper breaks moulds that no one has dared to question until that moment.

What he does is quickly explained. Cooper moves the engine back and places it behind the driver. The car magically becomes more manageable because it is structurally lighter, and the trick is done. He does it for the first time with the T43 and T45 models, which, with Moss and Trintignant, win the Argentine and Monaco Grand Prix in 1958. But in a year when Ferrari wins the Drivers’ World Championship and Vanwall the Constructors’ Championship with cars with traditional architecture, Cooper’s message of innovation is not received.

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Jack Brabham: At Monte Carlo, Black Jack Brabham wins his first Formula 1 Grand Prix. The Australian repeats this feat at Aintree, and at the end of the season, he becomes world champion for the first time. In between, there are three podium finishes at Zandvoort, Reims, and Monza. And this is just the beginning of an extraordinary career that will see him become world champion two more times.

Stirling Moss: With two victories in the Portuguese and Italian Grand Prix and a second place in the British Grand Prix, Stirling Moss earns third place overall in the World Championship standings. The English driver does not race for the official Cooper team but for Rob Walker’s team.

Bruce McLaren: The young New Zealand driver, who debuted in Formula 1 halfway through the previous season, steps onto the third step of the podium at the British Grand Prix and achieves his first victory in the final race of the championship, the United States Grand Prix held at Sebring.

Our model cars:

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The world of Formula 1 will have to think again the following season, when three different drivers behind the wheel of the Cooper T51 will win a total of five races, and one of them, Australian Jack Brabham, who had a significant role in the realization of the T51, will be crowned world champion.

The T51 is powered by the 2.5-liter Cooper-Climax 4-cylinder engine with a power output of 220 hp. The chassis is made of lattice tubes; the suspensions are independent with coil springs at the front and transverse leaf springs at the rear. The fuel tanks are located in the side pods of the single-seater. The brakes are disc brakes, and the wheels are made of lightweight alloy.

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