- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2000

LONDON (AP) John Cooper, a car designer who developed the rear-engine Formula One racer and the lovable Mini Cooper, died Sunday in Worthing, England, his family said. He was 77.
Mr. Cooper had been battling cancer, said Doug Nye, a family friend and racing writer. The designer's death was confirmed by his son, Michael.
Mr. Cooper "made a great contribution to the sport of motor racing," said veteran race driver Stirling Moss. "He put England back on top."
He got an early start in the racing business as the son of designer and driver Charles Cooper. Father and son founded the Cooper Car Co. in 1946 and established themselves as racing specialists out of a small British Motor Corp. garage.
The duo found success in Formula Three in the early 1950s by building a car with the engine placed behind the driver, an unorthodox concept at the time.
Doubts that the layout could work with larger cars were put to rest in 1958, when Mr. Moss piloted a Cooper to victory in the Grand Prix of Argentina the first world championship win for a rear-engine car.
Cooper cars went on to win the Formula One constructors' title in 1959 and 1960. Within three years, rear-mounted engines were the standard for Formula One.
Mr. Cooper gained more fame by turning one of Britain's most lovable and enduring cars, the Mini, into a ferocious racer.
First sold to the public in 1961, the Mini Cooper was a success in saloon and rally classes. It was the first British car to win the European Rally Championship and took the checkered flag at the Monte Carlo Rally three times.
The Mini Cooper quickly became a cult favorite like Volkswagen's Beetle, and it enjoyed a decades-long production run. Celebrity owners included Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Peter Sellers. Red, white and blue models raced through Turin in the 1969 movie "The Italian Job," starring Michael Caine.
Mr. Cooper was named a commander of the Order of the British Empire last year for his services to the motor industry.

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