Jack Brabham’s first Formula 1 car – the 1955 Cooper Bristol T40 – is up for sale in Monaco.
The T40 revolutionised the sport of Formula 1, and single-seater racing in general, by being the first-ever rear-engine F1 car to enter a grand prix.
The only world champion to win the title in his own car, Brabham was the mastermind behind the T40’s construction.
The T40 is based on the preceding Cooper T39 Bobtail, a successful sportscar that raced at blue riband events such as Le Mans and Sebring. Brabham extended the wheelbase of a T39 by 50mm to accommodate a 2.0-litre Bristol engine and played around with the bodywork to design the T40.
The car then made its debut outing in the 1955 British Grand Prix at Aintree. Brabham was so eager to ensure the car was perfect that it was not fully built until the eve of the race weekend.
The T40 was essentially a Formula 2 chassis entered in an F1 race, and was not competitive. The clutch failed before turning a single lap, and the engine had a constant issue of overheating.
Qualifying 25th, some 27-seconds off pole position, and 14-seconds behind the next-placed car, Brabham lasted 30 laps before retiring with engine trouble.
Brabham never entered the T40 in another grand prix, with pundits and rival teams initially writing the car off as a disaster.
However, what Brabham had proven was that rear-engine grand prix cars were possible. Over time, engineers of rival teams began to explore the possibilities of placing the engine at the back of the car.
Then, at the 1958 Argentine Grand Prix, Stirling Moss drove a privately entered Cooper T43 to victory. In doing so, he became the first-ever Formula 1 winner driving a rear-engine car.
Soon, front-engine cars were a thing of old and every team, even the stubborn Ferrari outfit, began designing mid- and rear-engine grand prix cars.
Brabham would claim the 1959 driver’s title in a rear-engine T51, a car that was a direct descendent of the T40.
The T40 up for sale in Monaco was used by Brabham at a handful of non-Formula 1 events, even taking victory at Ardmore in New Zealand.
Since being sold by Brabham in 1956, the T40 has raced at a number of historical events, including the 2014 Grand Prix of Monaco Historique.
No price has currently been listed for the T40. However, its significant motorsport history suggests it will take a sizable bite of the wallet to own it for yourself.