1954 Cooper-JAP Mark VIII Formula 3 Single-Seater Chassis no. MK42/54 Engine no. JOS/D22346/7
Powered by JAP and Manx Norton motorcycle engines, Cooper's innovative rear-engined racing cars dominated the 500cc Formula 3 scene in the 1950s, providing many future stars, most notably Stirling Moss, with their first taste of 'real' motor racing. Charles and John Cooper's first post-war racing car utilised the chassis of a crashed FIAT Topolino. FIAT transverse-leaf independent front suspension was used at both ends and the single-cylinder 500cc JAP motorcycle engine was positioned behind the driver, this being the easiest way to accommodate the motorcycle transmission's chain final drive. The Coopers' friend Eric Brandon drove a MkI to victory in the first-ever 500cc race in 1947 and before long the Cooper had established itself as the car to beat. The resulting flood of orders meant that relying on a supply of crashed Topolinos was out of the question, and the Coopers set about designing a car that could be built from scratch, powered in its initial form by the ubiquitous 'Speedway' JAP engine. Over the course of the next decade the F3 Cooper gained rack-and-pinion steering, pannier fuel tanks and a proper tubular-steel spaceframe chassis among numerous other improvements as development proceeded through Marks I to XIII, while the JAP engine gave way to the overhead-camshaft Norton Manx unit.
This Cooper Mark VIII Formula 3 monoposto was sold new in 1954 to the late Bob Gerard. Frederick Roberts 'Bob' Gerard served his racing apprenticeship in Rileys during the 1930s and after WW2 became famous following a string of successes driving the ERAs 'R4A' and 'R14B', which included 3rd place in the 1948 British Grand Prix. One of the most respected competitors of his era, Gerard switched to more modern Coopers and although there would be few more international successes, he continued winning at national level well into the 1950s. In 1955 he sold the Cooper to Henry Taylor, who installed a JAP engine and won both the Autosport and JAP Trophies. In order, the next four (known) owners are: Sir Thomas Beevor (1956-1958); Peter Geale (1963-1966); Geoff Ingliss (1967-1969) and Rodney Cummings (1969-1974). In 1974 the Cooper was purchased by Richard White, who won the Kent Messenger Trophy at Brands Hatch in 1976, the first historic race for 500cc Formula 3 cars. The car next changed hands later that same year, passing to Edward Lewis, the well known Lotus racer of the 1950s and manufacturer of Westover racing shoes. Lewis kept the Cooper until 1988 before selling it to Neville Howes, who was followed by David Stephenson (1994-1997); Rodney Cummings (1997-1999) and then Peter Wright and Jennifer Underwood (1999-2000). Driven by Nick Leston, this car finished 3rd in the Earl of March Trophy at the first Goodwood Revival meeting. In 2000 the car passed to David Holland and since 2002 has been owned by the current vendor.
The Cooper was restored in 2005/2006 and comes with related bills. Noteworthy features include an AMC gearbox and altered rear bodywork (modified in period) while only a minimal mileage has been covered since the engine was last rebuilt. A spare rebuilt engine; correct Norton 'laid down' gearbox; assorted chains and sprockets; and a quick-lift jack are included in the sale. Accompanying documentation consists of the aforementioned restoration bills, a VSCC 'Buff Form', MSA Logbook and a current 500 OAVIF.