Calling in at Pippbrook Garage at Dorking, we had a look at the progress on the Cooper-B.R.M. project being built especially for Stirling Moss, but before that we talked to R. R. C. Walker about his plans for 1959 for the Walker Racing Equipe. It will be remembered that last year he had a most successful season with three Coopers, a 1957 model with 2-litre engine that Moss used to win the Argentine Grand Prix, a 1958 Cooper with 2,014-c.c. engine with which Trintignant won the Monaco Grand Prix, and a 1958 Formula 2 Cooper with normal 1,500-c.c. Climax engine. The team also had a 2.2-litre Climax engine later in the season which was used by Trintignant, who was the number one driver for the season. Before the end of last year the Frenchman was again signed-up by Walker to be the team driver for 1959 and, a little later, an agreement was made with Moss for certain races, both in Formula 1 and Formula 2, as happened last year.
Of the three Coopers used last season only two remained, for the Formula 2 car was a complete write-off at Casablanca when Picard crashed heavily. The Argentine-winning car, the old 1957 chassis, was fitted with a 2-litre engine and sold to an Irish driver, and a new Cooper was purchased, the 2,014-c.c, engine that won at Monaco was fitted to this car, and sent out to Australia, where Moss used it to win the Melbourne Grand Prix at the end of last year and the New Zealand Grand Prix at the beginning of this year; the car then returning to Dorking to become the number one team car for this season for Formula 1 and fitted with the 2.2-litre engine. As and when Coventry-Climax get their new 2-1/2-litre engine finished and Walker gets delivery of one, it will go into the new car. The 1958 Monaco-winning car was sent to Bremen, in Germany, where the Borgward racing department fitted a 1,500-c.c. twin-cam, fuel-injection four-cylinder Rennsport engine, and it then went to Modena to be fitted with a new five-speed and reverse gearbox and final-drive unit that Walker has had specially designed for his cars.
With all this material available Trintignant should be assured of every possibility for a first-class season of racing in both Formula 1 and Formula 2, for the Australian/New Zealand-winning car will have 2,014 c.c., 2,200 c.c. and 2,500 c.c. engines available, and the Monaco-winning car will have two Borgward engines on hand, one in the car and the other standing by as a spare, the Bremen firm having promised spares and engine overhauls.
The foregoing represents the Walker Equipe’s own plans for 1959 but, in addition, they have built a new car for Moss to drive at Goodwood and Monaco, after which the situation will be reviewed. This new car is the result of co-operation between Moss and Alfred Owen and the Walker Equipe and until after Monaco is in the nature of an experiment and an addition to Walker’s activities. If successful it will no doubt become part and parcel of the Equipe Walker and Moss will stay on as a team driver. A Formula 1 B.R.M. four-cylinder engine has been loaned to Moss and Pippbrook have fitted it into a much-modified Cooper chassis. This new chassis frame has had many of the curved tubes replaced by nice straight ones, and the more important tube junctions have been boxed and gusseted, while the driving position has been moved forward a few inches. The pedals have been converted to pendant type, as well as being mounted further forward, and a B.R.M. light-alloy radiator is mounted well forward on outriggers, with an oil tank just behind it. The B.R.M. engine fits neatly into the space behind the driver, the only modification necessary being the refitting of the two magnetos. On the B.R.M. engine these are normally fitted on the front of the block, but in the Cooper this meant that they would have stuck into the driver’s back, so they have been remounted, one on each side of the block, under the carburetters and exhaust manifold, respectively, and are driven by chains within new alloy casings which bolt onto the original three-stud flanges on the front of the block. Two double-choke Weber carburetters are retained, operated by cable from the throttle pedal, and the B.R.M. exhaust can virtually be retained, as the car has a long tail. With more than 250 b.h.p. on tap from the B.R.M. unit there was no question of putting it through the normal Cooper transmission, so a completely new gearbox and final drive has been designed and built in Modena. This work has been done by Ing. Collotti, who used to be with Maserati and was responsible for the chassis work on the 250S, the 300S and 450S cars from that factory, and as they all had first-class gearboxes the chances are that the new one for Walker should be good. It is a very compact five-speed and reverse box in unit with the final drive and differential, and is mounted in the tail of the car in a similar fashion to the normal Cooper layout. It is interesting to realise that both Cooper and Lotus have been racing in Formula 1 without a reverse gear, a flagrant violation of the International rules, and, just in case someone one day points this out in official circles, Walker decided to have the Collotti gearbox designed with a reverse gear. Four of these gearboxes are on hand, one for the B.R.M. engine and one for the previously mentioned Borgward engine, with two more as spares. In addition to designing the gearbox, Collotti has also designed, and had built in Italy, the drive shafts to take the power of the B.R.M.
This car is expected to be ready for the Formula 1 race at Goodwood, and Moss will also drive it at Monaco, while, in addition, he will probably drive a Walker-Cooper in Formula 2 events in the early part of the British racing season.
Another private-enterprise Formula 1 project is that of C. T. Atkins, the owner of High Efficiency Motors, a precision tool-making, jig and fixtures firm at Chessington. Last year Atkins ran a Formula 2 Cooper with Ian Burgess as his driver, sometimes as a private entry and sometimes as part of the works Cooper team. At the end of the season Burgess crashed badly at Avus, putting himself out of action for some while and writing-off the Cooper. Atkins has now started all over again, with a new Cooper chassis, and into this he has fitted a new 2-1/2-litre four-cylinder Maserati engine, coupling it up to a Cooper gearbox and transmission. This new Maserati engine is a development of a prototype engine that the firm built in 1956 for sports-car racing and which became the 200S. It will be recalled that they built a very fast 2-litre sports car for the Supercortemaggiore race of that year, and Moss proved it to be much faster than the contemporary Ferraris, but during practice Farina tried the car and smashed it, after which Maserati got interested in other projects. They have now built some further 2-1/2-litre developments of this engine, using a bore and stroke of 96 by 86 mm., and using two double-choke Weber carburetters it will turn at 7,000 r.p.m. and give out nearly 230 b.h.p. Originally the magnetos were mounted at the front of the engine, but they are now driven off the rear of the two overhead camshafts, each magneto supplying four sparking plugs, and this new layout is ideal for the Cooper, as it means that the magnetos now lie above the gearbox and out of the way. The water off-take from the front of the block curves upwards and doubles back into a brass header tank that sits on top of the engine, before going forwards in alloy pipes to the Cooper radiator, this layout being an H.E.M. modification, while the chassis frame has also undergone numerous alterations by Atkins’ mechanics, to strengthen weak points and facilitate service and preparation. In the High Efficiency Motors workshop is another Cooper, a standard 1958 Formula 2 car with Coventry-Climax engine, and these two cars will be raced by Atkins and his team wherever possible. To drive the cars are Salvadori, as and when his Aston Martin contract permits, and Burgess when he is fully recovered.
While in this Cooper frame of mind we also called at the Surbiton factory, to see how the 1959 cars were coming along, and saw the works team cars in process of building. These comprise two Formula 1 chassis, more or less identical with last year’s cars, a few improvements having been made, such as adjustable rear wishbones to alter the wheel camber angle, and engine mounts to take the new 2-1/2-litre Climax engine when it is ready, these being in a slightly different position from the 2.2-litre engine mounts, which are retained. Two Formula 2 cars were also on the stocks, and these four will be driven by Brabham and McLaren, these two from “down under” forming the official Cooper works team. Also there was a sports Cooper-Monaco which will be raced by the works team as and when time and opportunity permit. Last year’s works cars have been sold, as has the prototype Monaco sports car. There will be two works Coopers in the Formula 1 race at the Easter Goodwood meeting and John Cooper has hopes of getting one 2-1/2-litre Climax engine by then, but, if not, then he will run his 2.2-litre engines. Also at the Surbiton factory were two new Formula 2 chassis belonging to the British Racing Partnership team, and these were awaiting the delivery of their Borgward engines, of the same type as bought by Walker. It seems that the Borgward factory are giving full support to these Cooper-Borgwards, in the way of service and spares, and will probably send one of their racing department mechanies to England to keep an eye on all three cars.
Production of normal Formula 2 Coopers is still going ahead, and since last season two have been sent to Australia, two sold to Lewis and Nixon, and the aforementioned two to Atkins and Walker, while three Formula 3 cars, with Norton engines, have recently been sold to Venezuela. Although nothing has yet been started, John Cooper has an eye on the International Junior Formula. and visualises building a Formula 2 car of lighter weight, and fitting something like a tuned B.M.C. engine, but the activities of the works team of single-seaters and sports car will decide whether there is enough time left, over for this idea. If it does come into being it is quite likely that one of the top ten of the Cooper Driving School will be chosen to drive it.