A few days ago I turned on the television and saw a few moments of a show about this year’s Porsche Rennsport gathering at Laguna Seca. The race that I saw was won by what was described as a Cooper-Porsche. I don’t believe that they called by its common name – the Pooper, during the portion of the race that I saw.
The “Pooper” was, and continues to be, a very good race car that combines a Cooper chassis and body with a Porsche engine and transmission.
The origin of the Cooper chassis and body is the Formula 3 Cooper racers of the early 1950’s.
A Typical Cooper Formula 3 car of the Early 1950s
During the early 1950s Cooper made several streamlined cars for top speed competitions. The first of these was a stretched Cooper Mark V T17 chassis with an aluminum body. This car was at times powered by a 350cc JAP or a 500cc Norton motorcycle engine.
The First Cooper Streamliner in 1951
In the photo above, John Cooper is the fellow who is standing third from the left. The original owner of the car was Bill Aston, who is the person on the far right side of the photo.
This car was driven to numerous speed and distance records by John Cooper.
John Cooper Driving the Streamliner at Avus in 1951
This streamlined car was subsequently sold to John Fox, Jr., who was setting up a Cooper dealership in California. The picture below shows John Cooper and John Fox, Jr. with the 1951 streamliner destined for California in 1954.
John Cooper with John Fox, Jr. and the Mark V Streamliner
After John Fox got the car, I believe that the car was run on the salt flats at Bonneville. The small size and shape of the Cooper made it the Cooper an excellent car for top speed runs. The image below shows a Porsche 550 on the left, the Pooper in the middle, and a Porsche 356 on the right. I always thought that the Porsche 550 was a small car, but you can see that the Pooper is considerably smaller than the Porsche 550.
The John Fox’s Cooper streamliner wound up in the hands of Pete Lovely. It was Pete Lovely who changed the Cooper into the Pooper by installing a 1,500cc engine from a Porsche 356 into the Cooper.
Pete Lovely’s “Pooper”
The Pete Lovely “Pooper” weighed just over 900 lb with an engine that would have produced over 100 horsepower. Pete Lovely drove this car to five class wins on his way to winning the SCCA F Modified National Championship in 1955.
Pete Lovely in a Cooper-Ferrari at the 1960 USA Grand Prix
Pete Lovely had a very good racing career that on two occasions (1959 – 1960 and 1969 – 1971) got him into the Formula 1 circus, but many times with cars that weren’t ready, cars that DNF’d, and or he was not able to get qualified in resulted in a record that is not representative of his abilities. Unfortunately, Pete Lovely died on May 16, 2011. He had been active in vintage car racing in his later years.
In addition to Pete Lovely’s car, a couple of other Coopers were converted to “Poopers”. Still other Coopers had engines installed in them other than the 1,500cc Porsche engine. These cars continue today to be competitive cars in historic racing.
Sources that I used to put this posting together are as follows: