I currently have two eBay obsessions.
Scalextric models of historic racing cars and Goodwood Revival memorabilia.
Every once in a while these two obsessions collide. And when they do, it’s nearly always something special – just like these Scalextric Goodwood Revival Meeting Classic Grand Prix collection:
This limited edition collection, released in two parts in 2004 and 2005, celebrates four classic F1 cars driven by four giants of the sport: Juan Manuel Fangio in his 1957 Maserati 250F, Stirling Moss in his 1957 Vanwall F1, Jack Brabham in his 1960 Cooper Climax T53, and Phil Hill in his 1961 Ferrari 156 Sharknose.
Unsurprisingly, when any of these beauties come up on eBay they go for top-dollar, with the Phil Hill Ferrari in particularly high-demand. Much to my annoyance, I’ve not managed to get my hands on one yet.
So, instead of having pictures of the cars to share, in this, the first part of this post, I’m going to take a closer look at the stories of Phil Hill and his Ferrari 156, and Jack Brabham and his Cooper T53.
C2640A Phil Hill’s 1961 Ferrari 156 Sharknose
Phil Hill was the US’s first Formula 1 world champion and a man who defined racing driver cool.
Born in Miami, raised in California, Hill came to England in 1949 to join Jaguar as a trainee mechanic. In 1956 he joined Enzo Ferrari, and made his F1 debut in 1958 driving a Maserati. Hill excelled.
In 1958, the same year he made his F1 debut, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with team mate Olivier Gendebien. Winning Le Mans was a feat he would repeat in both 1961 and 1962.
For the ’61 Formula One season, Hill was driving for Scuderia Ferrari in a car that was in a league of its own. Hill spent much of the season battling for the championship with Ferrari team mate Wolfgang Von Tripps. That battle ended when Von Trips was killed at Monza. Hill took the race win and the Formula One crown but with little joy.
After leaving Ferrari at the end of the 1962 season, Hill continued to drive in both Formula One and sports cars for teams such as Cooper, Ford, Chaparral and Dan Gurney’s All American Racers.
Retiring from motorsports in 1967, Phil Hill died, aged 81, in 2008.
The 156 was Ferrari’s response to regulation changes that reduce engines from 2.5ltr down to 1.5ltr. The width of its revolutionary 120 degree V6 engine meant it was, for the first time in a Ferrari, positioned behind the driver. This, combined nostril shaped air intakes, helped to make it one of the most recognisable and, arguably, most beautiful Ferrari formula one car ever made.
The car was incredibly successful and dominated the 1961 season. It’s copy book of wins only blotted by victories at Monaco and the Nurburgring by Stirling Moss.
The model in the Goodwood Revival Classic Grand Prix collection captures the car driven by Hill in the 1961 Belgium Grand Prix at Spa.
Here’s a simply magnificent film of that race – you’ll not find a better use of 10 minutes today! – where a 156 finished in the top four places. The picture quality of the video isn’t great but everything else about it is.
Make sure you have the sound turned up nice and high to enjoy the roar of the Ferrari 120 V6 engines.
C2639A Jack Brabham’s 1960 Cooper Climax
Sir Jack Brabham was as talented an engineer as he was a driver.
Born in New South Wales, Brabham learnt his spanner skills with Royal Australian Air Force flight mechanic and went on to set up his own engineering business.
It wasn’t until the late forties that he began racing. Carving out a successful career driving midgets in Australia and New Zealand before moving to England in 1955 and securing a drive with Cooper – making his F1 debut at the 1955 British Grand Prix.
The 1959 season was a turning point in Brabham’s career. That year saw the introduction of big 2.5ltr engines and Brabham, driving the Coventry Climax powered Cooper T51, put the extra power immediately to good use, winning his first F1 race, the season opener at Monaco. Further podium finishes saw his fighting for the F1 crown alongside Moss in a non-factory Cooper and Tony Brooks of Ferrari.
The championship battle rolled on until the US Grand Prix at Sebring. The race win clinched in a moment that has gone on to become Formula One legend.
Leading the race, Brabham’s Cooper ran out of fuel on the final lap. He leapt from the car and pushed it to the finish line. Securing fourth in the race, and the Formula One World Championship with it – and becoming the first man to win the Formula One World Championship in a rear-engined car.
The 1960 season got of to an inauspicious start. Brabham retired in Argentina and was disqualified in Monaco. But 5 wins in a row, and a fourth place in the final round in Riverside, California was enough for Black Jack to retain the title.
Brabham won the title again in 1966, this time driving his own Brabham BT19, becoming the first and only man to win the Formula One championship driving a car of his own construction.
Brabham retired from racing at the end of the 1970 season, heading back home to Australia.
The impact of Cooper and Jack Brabham on Formula One is hard to overstate. They led the way in the rear-engine revolution. Starting in 1957 when Brabham scored a sixth place finish in Monaco and peaking, just two years later, with Brabham taking the world title and Cooper taking the constructors crown.
Coper started the 1960 season on the crest of that championship wave at the Argentine Grand Prix, racing last season’s T51. At that race it was clear the Coopers were outpaced by new Lotus 18 and something needed to be done.
The T53 was that something.
Conceived on the flight back from Buenos Aires, Jack Brabham was deeply involved in the design and development of the car. Dubbed the “lowline” it was powered by the same Coventry Climax 2.5ltr FPF engine and it went on to dominate the 1960 season.
Again powering Brabham to the driver’s and Cooper to the constructor’s titles.
Here’s some lovely – though sadly silent this time – Pathe footage of the T53 at the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix: