COOPERS AT BATHURST 1952

COOPERS AT BATHURST 1952

Here’s something different, as we catch up with the ‘movie’ age. Sorry we don’t know who took this great film.

Bathurst New South Wales was the venue in 1952 for that year’s Australian Grand Prix and there was an impressive entry of five air-cooled Coopers, plus another for a shorter event.

To quote from John Medley’s excellent book, Bathurst, Cradle of Australian Motor Racing, ‘Cooper distributor John Crouch was pleased; the Cooper entry was impressive: his own silver MarkV 1100cc, South Australian Bill Craig’s bronze MarkV 1100cc, and ex motorcyclist Lloyd Hirst’s cream MarkV were entered in addition to the now familiar MarkIV 1000cc Coopers of Mischa Ravdell and Jack Saywell. As well, Dick Cobden had entered his blue MarkV 500cc for the big race, and Bill Patterson his green MarkV 500cc, which he had recently raced in Europe, in the shorter event’.

Sadly, the results didn’t live up to expectations, and Jack Saywell was the only Cooper running at the end of the 38 lap, 150 mile long event, in 16th place, having covered 32 laps.

Observant viewers of this 10 minute film will see:

John Crouch (number 7) at 52 seconds then 1:20 and 2:38
Bill Craig 9 (number 6) at 6:15
Lloyd Hirst, (number 8) at 41s, 55s, also 1:16
Mischa Ravdell (black car number 10)  at 2:17, 3:0, 3:58 and 5:17
Jack Saywell (red car number 11) at 1:15, 3:38, 4:05, 6:50, 7:15, 8:30, 9:03, 9:50
Dick Cobden (Number 23) at 28 and 50 seconds, also at 5:35

Well, we hear you say, where are those cars now? Fortunately, most are still with us.

The John Crouch driven MkV Cooper is in the Penrite Collection in Melbourne. The Bill Craig MkV later had a 1100 cc Coventry Climax fitted by Bill Pile in South Australia where it was used extensively by various owners before migrating to NSW for Paul Armstrong – it now resides on the NSW south coast and appeared at the 2018 Sandown historic meeting.

The cream coloured MkV of Lloyd Hirst later went to Queensland and ran a Ford 1172 cc engine and also a BMC B series engine fitted by Bowin race car designer-builder John Joyce; however it cannot be accounted for now.

The black MkIV of Mischa Ravdell was used in supercharged form by Lex Davison to win the 1955 and 1956 Australian Hillclimb  Championships  and passed through many hands before being obtained in dilapidated form by Garry Simkin in the early 1990s. It is now back in original condition and being used regularly.

Jack Saywell’s MkIV went to Bill Reynolds and Jack Myers with a supercharged Triumph then through various hands before being restored by Tony Caldersmith with single JAP . It was bought by Andrew Halliday and is awaiting a twin JAP to be built up hopefullyto end a long period of retirement.

Dick Cobden’s single MkV was used extensively in Victoria by Reg Smith then bought by Lex Davison who, with Phil Irvings assistance, fitted a supercharged Vincent and christened the car ‘’Cooper Irving’’. This combination won the 1957 Australian Hillclimb Championship at Albany, WA. Graeme North of Shepparton Victoria used it mainly in country Victoria events; it then passed through many hands including Neal Videan and now resides with Graeme Noonan of Phillip Island.

The green MkV single JAP was raced by Bill Patterson in the UK before the Bathurst 1952 AGP event and was later used extensively in Victoria before spending many years in Tasmania with a 1000cc Jap. Later owned by Brian ‘Brique’ Reed, it is currently owned by Peter Harburg in Queensland.

So that’s 5 survivors out of 6 which is a pretty good score we think. How many of the other cars at Bathurst that year also survive?

Garry Simkin




2 thoughts on “COOPERS AT BATHURST 1952”

  1. Hi there Cliff, the George Reed So-Cal Special also competed in that race. You get a glimpse of it at the 4:10 min mark. She is veryyyyyy much alive and well Graeme Raper is her current custodian and I get to drive her in Regularity events and Hillclimbs. Thanks for posting this footage. Regards Louise

    Liked by 1 person

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