Owen Richard Maddock, chief designer of the Cooper Car Company during the 1950s and early ’60s, has died, aged 75. The son of architect Richard Maddock, who designed the Cooper factory in Surbiton, Owen studied engineering at Kingston Technical College while with the Home Guard in the last years of World War II, and then spent two years doing National Service in Germany.
Upon his return to England, he joined the fledgling Cooper Car Company, initially as a fitter. ‘The Beard’, as he became known by his colleagues, was an outstanding lateral thinker and was soon designing cars radical for their time. His ‘bent tube’ chassis became a standing joke, until 1958 when Stirling Moss raced to victory in Argentina — the first championship grand prix win for a mid-engined car. Further success for Owen and the Cooper-Climax followed when they took the constructors’ titles and their driver Jack Brabham won the drivers’ championship in 1959 and ’60.
Alongside his motor racing aspirations, Owen was also a sousaphonist, performing with Mick Mulligan’s Magnolia Jazz Band. His last performance with the band was the inaugural concert at the Royal Festival Hall in 1951.
Owen left Cooper in 1963, drawn by the desire to build a racing hovercraft, and formed the Hover Club of Great Britain. He freelanced for McLaren and March, but turned down permanent positions and spent the last 20 years living a quiet life in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, continuing to enjoy his music. He is survived by his daughter. JR