It’s amazing what’s still out there, says Garry Simkin

Not long after I had collected my ex-NZ Mk9 Cooper from Derry Greeneklee in September 2016, I had a phone call from Brian Simpson who drives Derry’s (other) Mk9 Cooper JAP. He had been surfing eBay for parts and had spied a pair of cast-magnesium front engine mounts to accept a long-stroke Manx Norton with the engine leaning back at 15 degrees as was a feature of the Mk9s and onward. As I intend to put this Cooper back to original with a Norton engine, and not having the appropriate mounts, I swung into action.

About a week later, and with all of $35 paid, the mounts arrived in the post. Further inquiries of the vendor in Melbourne saw me obtain spare front and rear Mk9 rims, as well as a Mk4 Cooper rear rim which is handy as I also run a Mk4 Cooper.

A little later, New Zealand friend Noel Martin-Smith, previously a Mk5 Cooper owner, was reading the usual out-of-date magazines that dentists have in the waiting room. In an old Beaded Wheels magazine was an ad for a magnesium ‘triangle’, the centre section that houses the inboard disc, rear drive -procket and axle flanges etc, to suit a Mk9 Cooper. Calls to the seller found it to be with Alan Kerr in Auckland, himself a former Cooper Mk6 owner. I have a perfectly good housing in my Mk9, but there is nothing like having spares, and with two Mk 9s in Melbourne, plus mine, it was too good an opportunity to led slide so grab it I did.

Fast forward to early March this year and yet another former Cooper owner, John Caffin from Melbourne calls me. Someone had contacted him with regard what was thought to be a combined oil-fuel tank for a Cooper – the one over the engine. I made contact with the seller and found it was something that his late brother had obtained, but the seller had no idea from whom his brother had obtained it. Photos sent showed it to be the real deal for a Mk4 Cooper, of no use to me as I had made one up many years ago in the course of restoring my Vincent – engined 10-41-50. It wasn’t the one that was originally on my car as there is no cutaway for the front Amal carb as on a Vincent twin. It’s not off John Gales Mk4, 10-42-50 as that’s on his car, always has been and was the one I used as a template for mine when it was in Dick Willis’s hands.


labelThe tank bought by Garry Simkin

Using John Blanden’s book Historic Racing Cars in Australia as a starting point, we could surmise a few cars that it may well have come from. One, 10-26-49, first raced by Jack Saywell, is now owned by Andrew Halliday and is minus the original tank. Ivan Glasby has the remains of 10-31-49, and I will call and see if he has a tank. There is 13-28-49 , brought into Australia by a Tasmanian in 1958 and residing in Adelaide; I’m unsure of the status of the tank there. There is the ex-Ken Wylie car now owned by Rod Hoffman in Sydney, numbered 10-32-49; I’m unsure of tank status there but Kerry Smith is looking into that one.

It’s not from 10-53-50, the ex-Stan Jones car, which has been with Earl Davey-Milne since 1955.  A possibility is 10-54-50 which had a Hillman Minx engine fitted in the mid-1950s so an overhead tank wouldn’t have been of any use. Another ‘maybe’ is the JAP 8-80 engined car used by Arthur Wylie which had an MG supercharged engine fitted in the front in 1954. (serial number unknown). The last possibility is the ex Jack Brabham Cooper, (serial number unknown) which was initially fitted with an 1100 JAP twin; however Jack fitted a Vincent in it later, and one would assume that he would have needed to modify the tank to clear the front Amal, as per my Mk4 when Tony McAlpine fitted the Vincent twin.

In all likelihood we may never know from which car the tank was fitted to originally, but it just shows how stuff can turn up if you keep your eyes open.


Brabham King Edward Park 1952Jack Brabham at King Edward Park hillclimb, Newcastle, New South Wales, presumably when he was running a 500 BSA with JAP head before he fitted a 1000 Vincent twin

10-53-50Stan Jones in 10-53-50 at Templestowe hillclimb, Victoria

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