An unexpected Cooper SuperFind
By Michael Kliebenstein
Whenever I see a very significant race car still sporting its original steering wheel, racing seat and instruments, it always affects me. I feel it especially when I know that a great name once sat on that seat in the heat of battle, gripping the steering wheel with manic fervour.
Above: Lovely original instruments are like the windows to the soul of a motor car.
Above: Original cockpit - always a wonderful sight to behold.
Just imagine unexpectedly finding the ex-Tim Parnell (son of Reg Parnell) Cooper T45-Climax, chassis no. F2-7-58 that won both the Maidstone & Mid-Kent Motor Club F2 race held at Silverstone and the Nottingham S.C.C. F2 race at Mallory Park in 1959!
Tim Parnell’s first Formula 2 race in F2-7-58 was at the 1958 B.A.R.C. 200 at Aintree. That one ended in a DNF, but a second place at the Maidstone & Mid-Kent Motor Club F2 race and a win at the United States Air Force Trophy (both at Silverstone) were the highlights of his ’58 campaign.
For the 1959 season, apart from the two aforementioned victories, he entered a string of Formula 2 races including the Lavant Cup at Goodwood (DNF), the International Trophy at Silverstone (6th in F2), the GP de Rouen-les-Essarts (DNQ) and Snetterton’s Silver City Trophy (8th in F2). In other words, all the big F2 events of the time. What a find!
This little Cooper T45 was also driven by Carroll Shelby when he borrowed it for the Kentish 100 race at Brands Hatch on 29 August 1959. Shelby finished 13th in Heat 1 but did not start Heat 2, his 40 completed laps sufficient for an aggregate, unclassified, 15th place. Coincidentally, this result matched his 1958 Kentish 100 result, though on that occasion he drove an Alan Brown/C. Libovitz-entered Cooper T45. There’s no doubt that the tricky Brands Hatch circuit and the wet conditions would have held his attention on the track, but perhaps a couple of AC Aces caught his eye in the paddock and got him thinking about a future project? Who knows!
Above: One of the quickest cars in F2 at the time. Winner of two events in the 1959 Formula 2 season – one at Silverstone, the other at Mallory Park.
I found this very beautiful Cooper quite unexpectedly in southern Germany. Happily, its laidback elderly owner was friendly and forthcoming with information about the car – this is not always the case. He said the car had been used ‘very occasionally’ while in his care. He knows exactly what he has.
Above: Coventry Climax FPF – one of the most successful engines of its era, very pretty too. Somewhere along the line, the original 1475cc unit was replaced by this 2.0-litre engine.
Asked how it came to be in his possession, he told me it was Jo Siffert who first brought the Cooper to Switzerland in 1969 as part of some complicated swap deal. Apparently, Siffert took it in as a part exchange and then forgot about it – amazingly, this happens more often than you might imagine. It would be interesting to know the exact nature of the deal. Do any readers know?
After Siffert’s tragic death in 1971, the Cooper was sold, changing hands a few times and making a few successful appearances in historic motor racing before finally ending up with its current owner in Germany. It seems though that he is ready to part with it. I would certainly want to help with this.
Of course I’d love to own and race it myself, but sadly that’s currently out of the question. Perhaps this is the car for you? Keen, knowledgeable gentleman racers are welcome to apply.
Above: Does anyone know who Mr K. Sommer was?
Above: Great car, great history – the perfect SuperFind.