After the death of his father, John Cooper sold the Cooper Formula One team to the Chipstead Motor Group in April 1965. Cooper’s 1965 season petered out and at the end of the year, number one driver Bruce McLaren left to build his own F1 car for the new 1966 3-litre formula. Cooper’s new owners held the Maserati concession for the UK and arrangements were made for Cooper to build a new 3-litre Cooper-Maserati car which would be available for sale as well as being raced by the works team. The Maserati engine was an updated and enlarged version of the 2.5-litre V-12 which had made sporadic appearances in the works 250Fs in 1957. It was an old design, heavy and thirsty and the new Cooper T81 chassis built to take it was on the large side, in spite of which the bulky V-12 always looked as though it was spilling out of the back.
Three cars were sold to private owners, one each to Rob Walker for Jo Siffert to drive, Jo Bonnier’s Anglo Swiss Racing Team, and French privateer Guy Ligier. None of these cars achieved much success.
Jochen Rindt was entering the second year of his three-year contract, but with the departure of McLaren, Cooper had a seat to fill in the second car and with the team’s recent lack of success, understandably, a large queue of potential drivers was not forming at Canada Road. In the circumstances, Cooper were fortunate to acquire the services of Honda’s Richie Ginther, who was temporarily unemployed due to the Japanese company’s late development of their new 3-litre car. After a couple of races, Ginther was recalled by Honda to commence testing of their new car and the American was no doubt more than somewhat chagrined to discover that it was even bigger and heavier than the Cooper. After making a one-off arrangement with Chris Amon (unemployed due to the McLaren team’s engine problems) to drive in the French Grand Prix, Cooper had an enormous stroke of luck when John Surtees became available after falling out with Ferrari. Once conflicting fuel contract issues were resolved (Surtees was with Shell, Cooper with BP), Surtees joined the team. Cooper honoured its commitment to Amon, so three cars were run in the French GP.
Subsequently, the team reverted to two entries for Surtees and Rindt and with the former Ferrari driver’s development skills and a switch to Firestone tyres, the car was improved to the point that Surtees was able to win the final race of the year in Mexico.
Surtees left to join Honda for 1967 and Pedro Rodríguez joined Rindt in the team and immediately won the opening race of 1967 in South Africa in an unlikely Cooper one-two. This was a fortuitous win for Rodríguez, as he was being outpaced by Rhodesian John Love in his three-year-old ex McLaren Tasman Cooper powered by a 2.7-litre Coventry Climax FPF. Unfortunately, Love had to make a late pit stop for fuel and could only finish second. This was to be Cooper’s last ever Grand Prix victory. The rest of the 1967 season had the team’s fortunes steadily decline and the midseason appearance of the lighter and slimmer T86 chassis failed to improve things. Rindt, impatiently seeing out his Cooper contract, deliberately blew up his increasingly antiquated Maserati engine in the US Grand Prix and was dropped for the final race of the year in Mexico.
For 1968, Cooper would have liked to have joined the queue for the Cosworth-Ford DFV, but felt that its connections to British Leyland with the Mini-Coopers made this inadvisable. Instead, a deal was done with BRM for the use of its 3-litre V-12, originally conceived as a sports car unit, but which BRM themselves would be using in 1968. A slightly modified version of the T86 was built for the new engine, dubbed T86B and Italian ex-Ferrari driver Ludovico Scarfiotti and young Englishman Brian Redman were employed to drive it and between them achieved three-four finishes in the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.
Lucien Bianchi also drove this Cooper F1-1-68 T86B arriving 3rd in the Monaco GP in 1968. Bianchi also raced touring cars, sports cars and rally cars, being successful in all disciplines, his biggest victories coming in the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans, behind the wheel of a Ford GT40 with Pedro Rodríguez and at Sebring in 1962 with Jo Bonnier. He was also leading the London-Sydney Marathon when his Citroën DS collided with a non-competing car.
This car, chassis F1-1-68 also achieved:
III Race of Champions, Brands Hatch: 5th with Brian Redman
XIV Gran Premio de Espana, Jarama: 3rd with Brian Redman
XXVI Gran Prix de Monaco, Monte Carlo: 3rd with Lucien Bianchi
XXII Grand Prix de Belgique, Spa: 6th with Lucien Bianchi
In the recent years this Cooper T86B participated at the Historic Monaco Grand Prix and has been exhibited at the Ferrari Museum. Indeed back in 2007 the car set the fastest lap ahead of a Lotus 49 . The car was recently prepared by specialist Torelli and is presented in what only can be described as “ready to race condition”
A unique opportunity to purchase a genuine masterpiece of motorsport history with excellent provenance and an extremely reliable 12 cylinder engine, for the true Formula 1 connoisseur.