First cars built by Coopers where single seat 500-cc Formula Three race cars that were driven by John Cooper and Eric Brandon. Due to shortage of materials after World War II prototypes were constructed from two old Fiat Topolino joined together. The genius idea that was locating engine behind the driver and that made Coopers automobiles a legend of motorsports was marley a practical idea. According to John Cooper because the car was powered by motorcycle engine they believed it would be more convenient to place it in the back. This brilliant idea led to popularization of what was to become the dominant arrangement for racing cars. The first car created by Cooper was called “Cooper 500” and it became instant success. Eric Brandon won the first post war 500 race and the demand for “Cooper 500” went sky high and lead Cooper company to build more cars. The instant success of this car could be also attributed to it’s availability - it provide an inexpensive entry to motorsport for every aspiring driver. The company fast became the world’s first and largest postwar manufacturer of racing cars for sale to private owners. Cooper built up to 300 300 single-and twin-cylinder cars during the 1940s and 1950 and dominated the F3 category, winning 64 of 78 major races between 1951 and 1954.
The next model was front engined Formula Two Cooper Bristol that was driven by legendary drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio and Mike Hawthorn. But the benefits of rear engine could not be despiuted and in 1957 Jack Brabham won sixth place at at the 1957 Monaco Grand Prix in a rear-engined Formula 1 Cooper. The performance of rear engined cars was so good that the racing world began to see the advantages and the revolution of construction of race cars has begun. Every major manufacturer of race cars gradually started to produce rear engined cars. The days of front engined roadsters was numbered. Once every manufacturer of race cars began building rear engined racers the Cooper suffered. Even if their design where practical they could not rivale with sophisticated technology of companies such as Lola, Lotus, BRM, and Ferrari. The beginning of the end the company marks the year 196 when John Cooper was seriously injured in road accident and later in 1964 when Charles Cooper died. After the death of his father John Cooper sold Cooper Formula One Team to the Chipstead Motor Group. In 1969 Cooper Car Company failed to find sponsorship for new Cosworth DFV-powered car and there were many redundancies. Last to leave was Frank Boyles who was involved in building customer F2 cars. He later build Formula Ford Oscar in which he won more than 200 races - the record is believed to never been beaten. In October 2009, Mike Cooper, the son of John Cooper, launched Cooper Bikes, the bicycle division of the Cooper Car Company.
Who drives Cooper Car Company cars:
Cooper cars were popular among high class race drivers but also among celebrities. Famous “King of the Cool”Steve McQueen attended Cooper’s race school in England and had become close friends with John Cooper. McQueen purchased Mini Cooper and Cooper T56 MK II Formula Junior and shipped them to California. He took part in races with great success winning many of them, but his career as a race driver had to come to an end. He was becoming a great Hollywood star and studio producers didn't like him racing and endangering himself so they decided to intervene not wanting to take a risk with their new star. He was given the ultimatum "Are you a movie star or a race car driver? Choose." He chose acting career and became one of the most well known actors of his generation and a Hollywood icon. “The King of Cool” was able to go back to racing only after creating his own studio Solar Productions where he was the boss.