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The birth of the Cooper Car Company.John Cooper and his father Charles formed the Cooper Car Company  in the late 1940s. In the1930's Charles Cooper worked regularly as a mechanic  for the famous land-speed record driver Kaye Don. Charles also ran a modest garage in Surbiton,Surrey performing more straightforward car repairs. Surrounded by an abundance of exciting cars and machinery, this was the world in which John was raised.

The front  engined Cooper Bristol

Motor racing in  postwar Great Britain was still very much in its infancy. John Cooper was  instrumental in persuading circuits like Silverstone, Brands Hatch and Goodwood  to persevere with motor racing as a sport and the success of the 500cc car also led the Cooper Car Company into new markets.

A passion for  cars
John left school at the age of 15 to become an apprentice toolmaker.  After RAF service as an instrument maker during the latter stages of the Second World War, John was eager to pursue his passion for cars. Determined to enter  motor racing, he teamed up with his old friend Eric Brandon, to embark on a  project that would change the course of his life.

Rear engined Cooper 500s for 'privateers' Together they used their talents and ingenuity to construct the single-seater Cooper 500 from two old Fiat Topolino front-ends.  Powered by a JAP motorcycle engine, this car was uniquely distinguished from all others by the simple location of the engine behind the driver. It proved to be  an outstanding success, encouraging Charles and John to found the Cooper Car Company.

It was not long  before the Cooper Bristol was born. This front-engined Formula 2 car, which was  driven by many famous racers, including Mike Hawthorn and Fangio, helped  strengthen the company's reputation as a pioneering force in motor  racing.

One of their first customers for the popular Cooper 500 was none other than Stirling  Moss. Providing a relatively inexpensive entry point into motorsport, the Cooper 500 heralded a boom in the business for father and son. The Cooper Car Company became the world's first and largest post-war, specialist racing car  manufacturer for private customer sale, or 'privateers' as they were known in the motorsport world.

Rear engined Coopers challenged in Formula 1
It was not long before the Cooper Car  Company created a rear-engined Formula 2 car with a larger 2-litre engine. The scene was now set for Cooper to launch its eagerly-awaited assault on the world  of Formula 1

Private-owner Jack Brabham drove his specially-made Formula 2 car to sixth place in the 1957 Monaco  Grand Prix, after previously running as high as third. On difficult, winding  circuits with their superior balance, the agile Coopers were now beginning to challenge the supremacy of the front-engined Formula 1 cars of Ferrari, Maserati, Vanwall and BRM