17-18 August 2012

Previous Next

Lot 136

1961 Cooper T-56 Mark II Formula Junior Racing Car

  • Chassis no. FJ-2-62

Sold for $198,000

105 hp, 1,098 cc OHV four-cylinder engine, with twin SU carburetors, five-speed Citroen-ERSA transaxle, independent suspension by wishbones and coil springs up front and transverse leaf spring and wishbones at the rear, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 89"

Please note that this vehicle will be sold on a Bill of Sale only.

• Team Tyrell’s 1961 Formula Junior European Championship winner

• Raced successfully by Steve McQueen in California in 1962

• Won three SCCA Championships, driven by Buster Brizzard

• Fully restored by Hardy Hall in England to race-ready condition

• Eligible for BRDC, Goodwood Revival, Monterey Reunion, and VSCC events

This Cooper T-56 Formula Junior is one of only two Works cars campaigned by Team Tyrell for Cooper in 1961, and it won the European Formula Junior Championship, driven by South African Tony Maggs. Maggs won eight races: Goodwood, Magny-Cours, Monza, Kalskoga, Rouen, Zandvoort, Oulton Park, and Montlhery, finishing on the podium on several other occasions. Maggs tied for the championship with Jo Siffert, who went on to a very successful F1 and endurance racing career.

At the end of 1961, Tyrell gave the car back to Cooper, who sold it to up-and-coming actor Steve McQueen, the legendary actor, car collector, and racing driver. McQueen also bought a Mini-Cooper and attended Cooper’s race school. McQueen took both cars back to California and began racing FJ-2-62 in California, scoring a number of victories, including the Santa Barbara street races. Cooper invited McQueen to come and drive for him in England, but McQueen’s work intruded.

McQueen’s Hollywood bosses learned that he was about to race at Laguna Seca and gave him a choice: racing or movies. McQueen had finished his TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive, but he had movie projects backed up. In the next few years, he would make The Great Escape (1963), The Sand Pebbles (1966), and The Thomas Crown Affair and Bullitt (both in 1968). But he wouldn’t forget racing, and Le Mans (1971) was his own project.

The ultimatum worked and McQueen’s mechanic, Stanley Peterson, sold the Cooper to Al “Buster” Brizzard. Brizzard was extremely competitive in SCCA: he ran the car with the BMC engine in 1963, a Cosworth engine in 1964, and finally an Alfa-Romeo 1600 cc engine in 1965, winning the Pacific Coast Championship and becoming one of six National Formula B Champions that year.

Brizzard sold the Cooper to Robert Badilla in 1966 but reportedly bought it back again in 1977, still racing, but now with wings and wide tires. Skip McLaughlin, McQueen’s original mechanic, was rebuilding the car, perhaps to its original configuration, when a house fire put an end to the project. Donald Sandy is noted as an owner in 2000, and the present owner acquired the car in October 2003, after its discovery was reported in Classic and Sports Car Magazine’s Lost and Found section.

The present owner commenced a profound restoration and engaged Hardy Hall Restorations, of Herefordshire, to return FJ-2-62 to its 1961 configuration of dark green with white roundels and stripes. It was restored from the ground up to race-ready condition. Any parts which were not up to that standard were replaced, rebuilt, or simply re-fabricated. An original and correct five-speed ERSA gearbox was found, and the car is fitted with the appropriate 1098 cc BMC engine.

The documentation file contains not only extensive photographic restoration documentation but also period photographs, including some with the “King of Cool,” news clippings, invoices, ownership records, and correspondence with both Ken Tyrrell and John Cooper.

This T-56 is eligible for the Goodwood Revival, the Monterey Motorsports Reunion, and celebrated classic series in Europe, America, Australia, and New Zealand. With its successful, storied past that makes it unique among a mere 30-odd survivors and a race-ready restoration, the new owner can be assured that FJ-2-62 is as right now as it was 50 years ago.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more