Tommy Sopwith 1963 997 Oselli Cooper


  1. 4744PJ is Oselli tuned 997 Cooper once owned by the great aeroplane designer and race driver Tommy Sopwith. The car was raced in the early 60's and 70's, the engine was built by Oselli, believed to be a 1050cc. The car has only just done over 19,000 miles it was stored away since 1975.

    It's had a number of conversions done to it such as anti roll bar, heavy duty shock absorbers, the dashboard has been fitted with a 1960's dashboard, air horns, pancake filters, modifed cylinder head, camshaft, engine lightened and balanced and Astrelli steering wheel. The seats and interior are very good, the boot floor is excellent, underneath the back seat is very good, the 2 rear floor pans are very good, passenger floor pan is in pretty good condition, the drivers floor pan has some holes and rust (I will have to replace it, it will have to have new sills and rear balance, inner and external hinge panels).

    I know somewhere in the life of the car, it has had a smash, I believe it to be in Alton Park. The front right hand wing was damaged, front panel and also the drivers door. So therefore it was fitted with a fibreglass flip front. Although it has been standing from 1975 until now, it was dry stored, unfortunately it has rust on the sills and the top of the rear valance (it's fitted with a fibreglass rear valance). The colour of the car (if you look closely at the back of the car) is a kind of a plum colour, which his very similar to black cherry. It was painted this colour in 1966, as you can see it was previously red with a black roof. If you look in the pictures behind the passenger seat on the floor, you will see a skeleton of a rat, it was underneath the carpet and has probably been there for a long time, it was probably the mats that killed him as the sod had eaten some of them!

    I'm not sure whether to sell or keep the car as I am very keen on restoring it. It would be quite a simple restoration as it is very solid.

    Many thanks

    Dave Boswell

  2. WOW

    Thats an amazing piece of history there ..

    Tight old bugger , I see he bought the car second hand in 1972 – at 84 years old , well i guess if you can fly a plane then peddeling a mini couldent be much of an issue really

    heres a documentary on the man himself – at 84 grand years of age



  3. What an amazing piece of history!

    Well done both of you and many thanks for sharing. The documentary looks Ace especially as it includes the late Raymond Baxter, a good friend of my family since school days. I will view it fully later but many thanks for sharing. I think son Tom is a member of the BRDC and was runner up in the 'Touring car' championship in 1958 beaten by non other than Jack Sears. I think there is Youtube footage of him in 2008 in a Riley 1.5 – 50 years later!
    Brilliant. 🙂

  4. Interesting car but I think you'll find that TAE Sopwith as written on the RF60 above is neither Sir Tommy Sopwith the aviator nor his son Tom the Riley racer, Jaguar, Armstrong Sidley etc.


  5. More pictures

    Tommy Sopworth Snr insisted that the name of Sopworth Jnr (initials were T.A.E) which is the same name that is on the original logbook. When I purchased the car off Robert Harrington Litton of Fontmell Farm, Child Okeford, Blandford Rorom in Dorset, it was 2 days before I picked the car up that the car was once owned by the well known son of Tommy Sopworth, not knowing anything about aviation it didn't really ring any bells. All I knew through a friend of mine was that Tommy Sopworth Snr was a well know plane designer who sadly died at 101 years old. I wasn't aware the Sopworth Jnr was the same Tommy Sopworth that I knew from a race meeting when him and Jack Sears were together. I done some work on Jacks ex-Westminster race car and I had a chat with Tommy about minis, he did say that he owned a mini or two, which this one was probably the one he was talking about. He told me that he finished racing cars in 61 and went into racing speedboat. I believe that he owned a garage in Brighton. I am waiting for more info off a friend of mine, which I should receive tomorrow.

    When I was first interested in buying the car, the reason I bought it was because of the Osseli and race history and it was a nice little project to do. I've always been interested in small bore engines, such as 997's and 998's and also 850's. I think they are lovely little cars to tune, I think the Cooper S's are ok, the 970's, 1071's and 1275's but it's something about the 997 that is quite sweet. I also thought why would somebody like Tommy would buy a 2nd hand car when he well could have afforded to buy a new one but if you research, like I am trying to do, you will understand why he purchased a 2nd hand car like this. I have no doubt that it was his car, I do know Tommy Sopworth, so I am going to contact him to discuss the car more with him. I'm putting a few more photo's of the anti-roll bar underneath the rear side of the car. I think there is more history to this car that I know and am probably going to find it out as time goes on. If anybody does know anything about this car (4744 PJ) please let me know.

    Any comments, whether good or bad will be gratefully received.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Dai Bos

  6. Dai Bo wrote: “Tommy Sopworth Snr insisted that the name of Sopworth Jnr (initials were T.A.E) which is the same name that is on the original logbook. ”

    To my knowledge neither Tom Sopwith snr nor Tom Sopwith jnr have the initials TAE Sopwith as on the logbook. They are T.O.M Sopwith and T.E.B Sopwith respectively. Tom is still alive and well and wouldn't be difficult to contact.


  7. Thank you very much for the infromation Pete, I appreaciate it very much. As I said previously, I didn't know when I purchased the car about who used to own it, I found out 2 days before that it was Tommy Sopwith who owned it off the previous owner. I will send Tommy Sopwith a letter with a copy of the log book, to see what he comes back with.

    Many thanks

    Dai Bos

  8. Done a little more digging on this. Tommy Sopwith (Jnr) did indeed own a red and black 997, but in 1961, the only Mini he's ever owned. It was ordered new from John Cooper himself along with one for Mike Parkes and used to get to and from circuits by both of them, Surtees and several others did the same.
    However I'm fairly certain this isn't the car, the TAE Sopwith on the logbook has no connection to THE Tom Sopwith and furthermore Tom's never heard of him. Quite a coincidence though I have to say.

    Hope this helps.


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