When you pry open the doors to an old barn or storage shed, the last thing you expect to see is a priceless sportscar. But as fate would have it, that’s how this early 1960s Cooper-Zerex-Oldsmobile acquired and driven by none other than Bruce McLaren was found.
The car recently appeared in Bonhams auctions and is set to go under the hammer at the Goodwood Revival this weekend after it was transported from South America where it spent more than 50 years in storage.
It’s Kiwi connection comes as the car was acquired by New Zealand born and bred Grand Prix and Le Mans winner, McLaren, as his first foray into creating the Bruce McLaren Motor Racing Team.
However, the Cooper has been through many iterations throughout its life so it could comply with developing race regulations, achieving success with every change made to it between 1962 and 1964. It was because of this that it became known as the ‘Transformer’.
Before ending up in McLaren’s hands, the Cooper graced circuits around the world courtesy of Walt Hansgen and Roger Penske.
Penske, who started Penske Corporation, pedaled the car to victory at the 1962 Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside Raceway, the Pacific Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, and the Puerto Rican Grand Prix at Caguas.
When McLaren got hold of the car in 1964, it was powered by a 2.7-litre four-cylinder Climax engine which he won the British international sports car races at Aintree and Silverstone with, before having the car converted to use an initially 3.5-litre (now 3.9-litre) Traco-modified Oldsmobile V8 engine.
The care was then dubbed the Cooper-Zerex-Oldsmobile and was painted in the only colour McLaren and his team of mechanics could find, garden-gate green. It was then referred to as the ‘The Jolly Green Giant’.
It was then shipped to Mosport Park in Canada, where McLaren immediately won the international Player’s ‘200’. A fourth race win followed for the Kiwi driver at the international Guards Trophy race at Brands Hatch in 1964.
After falling into disrepair after over five decades of storage, we expect this holy grail to fetch a worthy-to-its-history sum come the Bonhams auction at the Goodwood Revival on September 17, 1PM BST (September 18, 12AM NZT).