The Ex-Alan Connell/Harry Washburn
1961 Cooper-Climax Type 61 Monaco Sports-Racing Two-Seater
Chassis no. CM/3/62
This wonderfully evocative late-model Cooper Monaco is offered here after having been preserved, prepared and raced in British Historic events by the current vendor a very prominent figure within the British vintage racing world - who has owned it since 2001. Prior to that it resided here within the United States from its first delivery as-new to prominent and extremely competitive - Texan road racer Alan Connell in 1962 until it was finally sold back into UK ownership as long ago as 1990.
The Cooper Monaco series of sports-racing cars was launched by Englands world-famous Surbiton-based marque for the 1959 racing season. Cooper had previously pioneered rear-engined racing car design within the modern era, initially with its chain-driven motorcycle-engined 500cc Formula single-seaters from as early as 1946, and then from 1955 with rear-mounted water-cooled lightweight aluminum racing engines manufactured by the Coventry Climax company. The initial 1955 Cooper-Climax Bobtail sports cars were most unusual in having their drivers seat and controls sited on the centerline, and the cars wore otherwise all-enveloping streamlined bodywork. They were nicknamed Bobtail because the tail bodywork ended in an abruptly abbreviated transom panel. This was projected as an aerodynamic feature, as researched and developed by the German aerodynamicist Dr Kamm. Genial John Cooper manufacturer of these cars cheerfully dismissed that notion by explaining simply that If the tail was any longer you couldnt open it to get at the engine
While these Bobtail sports cars excelled in 1955-56, a slipper-bodied, open-wheeled single-seat derivative emerged that latter season as the prototype Cooper-Climax Formula 2 car, powered by a 1500cc Climax engine. Uprated versions of this design would take Cooper-Climax into the Formula 1 arena, and in 1957 works driver Jack Brabham shone in a little 1.96-liter version against the full 2½-liter Formula 1 cars in the Monaco Grand Prix. Early in 1958 a further enlarged Cooper-Climax single-seater driven by Maurice Trintignant won the Monaco GP. It was in celebration of this victory that John Cooper and his father Charles named their new sports-racing Cooper-Climax for 1959, the Monaco. And as it happened their No. 1 driver Jack Brabham would win the marques second consecutive Monaco GP that year, and go on to clinch the Formula 1 World Championship titles for himself and for the Cooper-Climax marque.
The original Cooper Monaco sports cars were short-chassised and stubby-bodied. Through 1960-61 the model evolved, an improved longer-wheelbase multi-tubular chassis frame being adopted, together with more sophisticated coil-spring/telescopic shock absorber suspension replacing the original designs transverse rear leafspring arrangement. The body designs, produced in-house by chief designer Owen The Beard Maddock and made there by the father and son team of Fred and Pete Bedding, became more sleek and attractive. For many the finest-looking Cooper Monaco model of them all proved to be this sleek-nosed, tail-finned design of 1961-62.
Some of the greatest road racing drivers of their day campaigned these cars, including the then double-World Champion Driver, Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Roy Salvadori and even Jim Hall and Hap Sharp of concurrent Chaparral fame. The long-chassis T61M Cooper Monaco was also supplied to American owners intending to fit not the British 4-cylinder Climax FPF engine then available in 2.0, 2.5 and 2.7-liter capacities but much larger, little heavier and obviously very much more powerful Detroit V8 engines from Ford and GM. Most prominent of these would be Carroll Shelby with his factory team of Monaco-derived, Ford V8-engined King Cobras.
This particular car, chassis serial CM-3-62 was supplied new to former Birdcage Maserati exponent Alan Connell of Fort Worth, Texas. A copy of the original Cooper Car Company invoice to him is included in the document file accompanying this Lot. The price in 1962 was £1,650 complete with Climax FPF engine. We understand that he campaigned the car in both 2.9 and 2.5-liter Climax-engined form dependent upon which capacity class appeared to offer the best prospects of success and prize money.
But the lure of large-capacity, low-cost US V8s could not long be resisted. The car was sold to another prominent American owner/driver, Harry Washburn, who also acquired a single-seat Cooper-Maserati and the two alternative-sized Climax engines. The 2.5-liter Climax engine failed at Sebring late in 1963 and Mr Washburns mechanic Adrian Flores re-engined this T61M chassis with a small-block Chevrolet V8 driving it would appear through the Cooper C5S gearbox. With flared wheel arches to accommodate wider wheels and tires and an enlarged nose intake for the radiator, this car was then campaigned in many US events from Opalusa to Mansfield.
The car passed to J.C. Ferguson Jr in Louisiana who retained it from 1965-67, running in minor events such as Valley Mills and Pensacola. Jack Lane of Houston rebodied the car in aluminum. Celebrated dealer Chuck Haines of St. Louis owned it 1967-74, selling it at one point to an owner in Long Island, then buying it back for eventual re-sale to Bruce Langson of Houston, Texas 1974-76. Howard Eichenbaum of Little Rock, Arkansas owned the car 1976-78, followed by Bud Ogle of Mansfield, Texas, 1978-1990.
It then returned into UK ownership with Peter Bloore Raceparts, 1990-98, before being acquired by leading Historic racer/restorer John Harper at Morton-on-the-Marsh, who restored the car over two years. It then featured a 4-speed McKee gearbox and when acquired by the current vendor in 2001 it was finally restored to original Alan Connell specification with 2.5-liter Climax engine and Cooper C5S transaxle, together with the finned bodywork in original dark blue livery with white number roundels. The work was completed by well-respected British specialists. The engine has run only one race at the 2006 Goodwood Revival Meeting since its last rebuild by Crosthwaite & Gardiner Ltd in Buxted, England, and in that race it finished third overall ahead of a very well driven Lotus 19. The transaxles crownwheel and pinion and bearings were renewed two races ago and the cars overall condition is characterised as being very good. It is certainly an immensely attractive vintage racing proposition, a very fast and competitive sports-racing classic from 1962 with fine long-term US pedigree.