1950 Mk IV

Steve Jones Snetteton 05.JPG (19812 bytes)At a meeting in Paris in late 1949, the sporting commission of the FIA decided to recognise the 500cc National Formula as the basis of new International Formula 3 for 1950. Cars must have a minimum ground clearance of 4 inches and a minimum weight of 440 lbs, dry. International F3 races must be run on circuits of at least 1,600 yards per lap and exceed 30 miles in total.

Cooper cars had a full order book so the Mk IV, introduced for 1950, represents a gentle evolution of the Mk III car. The ladder frame chassis, with hoops to support the body, was retained and the principle objective was to save a little weight. Longer Hardy Spicer drive shafts were introduced and Lockheed twin leading shoe brakes became standard at the front and rear. Twin master cylinders allowed a fully split baking system to be introduced. Cars were built with 500cc JAP engines (T11) and a long chassis version (T12). Some favoured customers received a lightweight specification car, which was also slightly lower and had a slightly narrower chassis, all intended to take advantage of the new rulses.

Harry Schell acquired a long chassis car which he could run with a JAP 500 single for F3 or a JAP 1000 twin, making it eligible for both Formula 2 and Formula 3. This enabled him to make a small piece of history at Monaco in May 1950; after taking a heat win and second in the final, to Moss, the engine was swapped and he took the start of the Monaco Grand Prix, thus marking the first time that a mid engined car took part in a Formula 1 race. A decade later, Coopers had made the mid engine de rigueur.

J. A. Prestwich had been impressed with Cooper's record and specially developed an 1,100 twin with a dry sump, modified heads, aluminium barrels and a radical camshaft. Power output, on Methanol was about 95 bhp at 6,000 revs. Officially, the car was only offered with a 500cc JAP engine due to the difficulty of obtaining Norton "double knocker" units but cars were supplied without engine for customers to source their own.

Coopers were very much first out of the blocks for the new Formula and dominated the year numerically on the grid and in podium positions. The prominent Cooper Drivers for 1950 were Moss in his new Mk IV, Eric and John, "Curly" Dryden, Peter Collins, Stan Coldham, Alan Brown, Bill Whitehouse, Ken Carter, Jack Westcott and George Wicken, though not all of these drove the latest model. Opposition came from Don Parker in his Parker Special, Don Truman in the Bardon-Turner, Clive Lones in Tiger Kitten, Jack Moor in Wasp and Alf Bottoms in the JBS. Oddly though, Coopers were trumped at the occasional major meeting, Moss losing out to the Iota of Frank Aikens at the Silverstone Royal Meeting in May! Sadly, the Grand Prix driver and Le Mans winner, Raymond Sommer was killed in a crash in his T12 at Cahours in September 1950. In late1957, a modified Mk IV, built by Arthur Owen, with a streamlined glass fibre body and 250cc Norton engine was used by Bill Knight to set five records at Monza.

Advert from Motor Sport March 1952

Gilbert Lenoir in the Harry Schell long chassis car (T12) at Portimao in October 2010.


An advert from Autosport, November 1950 in colour, no less. Must have broken Charlie's heart.