1948 Mk II (T5)

The Mk II (T5) was the first production Cooper, introduced for 1948. While outwardly very similar to the Prototype, it featured a significant number of detailed changes and lessons learned from a season of competition. The most visible change is to the nose of the car which was now properly rounded rather than the flat bottom of the prototype. Under the skin, Coopers realised that they could not rely on crashed Fiats to provide components in the required quantity and a remarkable proportion of the car was made in house or subcontracted to local firms. The other big change was the introduction of Cooper's own 15 inch alloy wheels, with the brake drum cast integrally, which would become a feature of all subsequent Cooper 500s and many larger Coopers.

Twelve cars were planned at a list price of just over £500. Among the first to place orders were Sir Francis Samuelson, Stirling Moss, Stan Coldham, Curly Dryden, Peter Page, Spike Rhiando and George Saunders (a family friend who later, in 1956 became un-paid team manager). One car made it as far as Sweden to Oscar Swahn. The car proved successful, in 500 form, with a number of fastest times in sprints and on the hills but was occasionally beaten by the specials of Clive Lones, "Winco" Aikens and Colin Strang. The first appearance was at the Luton Hoo meeting, 31st March 1948. John Cooper drove this works 500 chassis to a class record, and it was also driven by Sir Francis Samuelson who had presumably already placed his order for a customer chassis. Later in 1948, a young Peter Collins acquired his Mk II which he would debut at the Goodwood Easter meeting, 1949, along with family friendAusten May in Stirling's old car. Circuit racing re-commenced during 1948, in spite of severe rationing of petrol, and this suited the Cooper, the highlight being the Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone in October which was won by Spike Rhiando from John Cooper himself with Sir Francis Samuelson, third. Cooper cars taking the first four places. On this occasion, Moss retired with drive sprocket trouble but his performances though the year drew great attention for the young charger.

A cutaway drawing of the Mk II

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Sir Francis Samuelson in September 1948

Stan checks out the new Brands Hatch circuit before its even been finished!

This would be Paddock Hill Bend, as they took the circuit anti-clockwise in the early days.

Richard Bishop-Miller in the wet at Brands Hatch for the Iota Trophy in June 2007.

Richard's car at the completion of its restoration. The history isn't clear but it may be Stan Coldham's car pictured above.

A bare chassis which clearly shows the ladder frame and bracing hoops.

Cooper Mk II Specification

JAP 500cc 4B Speedway Engine producing 45 bhp. at 6,000 RPM. Total loss oil system by Pilgrim pump using separate oil tank. B.T.H. magneto. Amal carburettor, gravity fed from 1 1/4 gallon tank mounted in streamlined head fairing. Transmission by chain to Burman four speed gearbox and multi-plate clutch then by chain to the centre of the rear axle and through universal joint half shafts to rear wheels.

Chassis of box section ladder frame braced with tubular cross members and steel hoop framework for attachment of the aluminium body. Independent suspension, front and rear, by transverse leaf springs and Burman steering box. Cooper designed cast electron wheels with integral brake drums. Lockheed hydraulic brakes with twin leading shoes on the front.

Wheelbase 7' 1". Front Track 4' 1". Rear Track 3' 11". Weight 520 lbs.

Spike Rhiando asked for his car to be stretched in order to accept a JAP V twin engine. With 70 BHP and very little additional weight, this proved the car as serious contender in the bigger classes on the hills. A second long chassis car for George Abecassis used the Vincent-HRD V twin engine. Later cars would be offered in two wheelbases specifically to accommodate 1,000 or 1,100cc engines.

Click here to see a review from "The Motor" March 1948

From "The Autocar", April 1948

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The restored "Kenya" Cooper Mk II. The early history isn't clear but it may have been Stan Coldham's. Courtesy Richard Bishop-Miller.