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1965 Cooper T75 Formula 2
Engine: BMC 4 Cylinder DOHC 1000cc
Following on from the successful collaboration between the Cooper Car Company and BMC in Formula Junior, Formula 3 and in producing the Mini Cooper; the Board of BMC decided to invest in a Formula 2 racing engine programme to supply engines for the new Cooper T75 chassis. The hope was that a car driven by Jackie Stewart for the Works Team would move BMC into the big league of professional motor sport. The engine project code assigned by the BMC Competitions Department was XSP222442.
The then BMC Technical Director Alec lssigoni, re-engineered a 1500cc racing engine conceived by his predecessor Dr Joe Ehrlich to produce a 1000cc, twin cam, four valves per cylinder, pent headed, four cylinder, fuel injected engine. A very lightweight cast iron block was paired with an alloy cylinder head. The engine had a dry sump, a 5 bearing crankshaft, chain or gear driven camshafts; a titanium flywheel with a metal sprayed bronze friction face, and even magnesium pistons with H-section connecting rods machined from solid.
The distributor was driven off the back of one of the camshafts with magnets on the flywheel triggering the ignition pick-up on the engine back plate. Harry Munday did the detail design of the head and the expected power output was 140bhp at 11,000rpm. The engine was fitted initially with Weber carburettors. but lssigonis insisted on using SU fuel injection (following his work on the Alvis Leonardies aero engine) resulting in reliability problems. The same system had also been used for a time on the Maserati 250F. The wild cam overlap made the power band thin with nothing below 10,000rpm and a big bang at 12,000rpm.
The works records show that two cars were to have the BMC twin cam engine but only one car was ever fitted with it, and that was the prototype T75 chassis F2-1-65. The car belonged to Cooper but was due to be prepared and run by the Tyrrell Racing Organisation, as such mechanics from both Teams worked alongside engineers and mechanics from BMC and Lucas at the BMC Competitions Department in Abingdon to fit the engine. Both John Surtees and Warwick Banks tested the car at Silverstone, and each commented that even with the Hewland Mk7 6-speed gearbox, the power band was so narrow that it was almost un-drivable and that overall the engine lacked power compared to the Cosworth SCA. The project continued for a while and the car was entered for the BARC 200 at Silverstone in April 1965 with Frank Gardner as the driver. That race meeting was abandoned because of floods but it has been claimed that Jackie Stewart sat in the car whilst it was towed around the paddock in the morning before practice. It was then entered for the Oulton Park Gold Cup in September 1965 again with Gardner as driver but didn't run. It was never entered again.
Sadly after reputedly spending over £100,000 and being influenced by other manufacturers propaganda, the engine was not completely developed and the project died together with the Competitions Department under the axe of Lord Stokes.
In 1966 John Cooper swapped it (a complete, un-raced car) for a road car with Dr Joe Ehrlich, Dr Joe sold it ‘as new’ with a spare dismantled engine to John Leek and Barrie Carter in 1969 and it was entered successfully for the Odiam Speed trials driven by Barrie Carter and David Pullen. Soon after the engine was removed and sold with the spare into the used racing engine market. The chassis, fitted with a variety of engines, became a club racer.
Clive Osborne of Shoreham saved the chassis from being scrapped in 1979 and Brian Horwood bought the remains In 1984. What was left of the spare engine was found in Kent in 1998 and soon after the original complete engine was found in the Osselli Engineering canteen! 6 engines are believed to have been built with roughly 3 complete engines in various states surviving, and the majority of these have been collected by Brian over the past 30 years. One engine was even built with Perspex windows in the crankcase, cam cover and timing chain housing so that the engineers could try to see what was happening, and incredibly some of these parts still exist.
Over the past 30 years the car has been rebuilt and entered for a number of historic GPs but there have been teething problems and mechanical failures. However, using redesigned camshafts and Weber carburettors it was possible to complete the practice and the HGPCA races at the Spa Summer Classic in June 2008. The first time the car, in its original form, had finished a race in its history.
Events entered in the period:-
BARC Senior Service 200, 20th of March 1965, Silverstone, Tyrrell Racing Organisation, #15 Frank Gardner, DNA VI Spring Trophy, 3rd of April 1965, Oulton Park, Tyrrell Racing Organisation, #4 Frank Gardner, DNA
The following names were linked to the project during research of the car and engines history:
BMC:- Dr Joe Ehrlich, Sir Alexander 'Alec' lssigonis, Harry Munday, (Walter Hassan), John Barry Walker, Ted Payne, Terry Hall, Paul Byrne, Ron Scott, Sid Harris, John Hitchman,
Cooper Car Company:- John Cooper, Dennis Davies,
Tyrrell Racing Organisation:- Ken Tyrrell, Neil Davis, Roger Bailey,
Drivers:- Warwick Banks, John Surtees, Frank Gardner, (Jackie Stewart),
Later Owners/Drivers:- John Leek, Barrie Carter, David Pullen, Clive Osborne,
The car has been featured in the following publications:
Motorsport Magazine -'A sad story'- June 1988 Classic Car Mart - July 1996
Owned by Brian Horwood and Chris Helliwell, Driven by Chris Helliwell
CAN YOU HELP ?
If you have any other information on the above.
Please Email:- Chris Helliwell