Cooper Type 61 Monaco King Cobra

Having an American V8 in a mid-engine sports prototype wasn’t a new idea in 1963, however the King Cobra was one of the first to utilize this concept. Much like the Shelby Cobra, it used a British chassis with a American V8, specifically a modified Cooper Type 61 Monaco chassis and the Ford 289 V8.

John Cooper worked directly with Shelby to modify the Type 61 chassis in England before they were shipped overseas. Four chassis were received directly by Shelby while Jack Ensley and W.Mitchell each got copy.¹ All King Cobras were powered by the potent 289 Ford V8 with either a Huffaker or Colotti 4-Speed transaxle.

John Cooper worked directly with Shelby to modify the Type 61 chassis in England before they were shipped overseas. Four chassis were received directly by Shelby while Jack Ensley and W.Mitchell each got copy.¹ All King Cobras were powered by the potent 289 Ford V8 with either a Huffaker or Colotti 4-Speed transaxle.

Chassis details were impressive including a space frame design having 1.5-inch tubing. The rear suspension was borrowed straight from the Cooper F1 car with Triumph uprights in the front. Compared to the standard Type 61 Monaco chassis, the King Cobra was 8.5 inches wider, four inches longer and two inches lower.¹

As a complete package the King Cobra only weighed 1300 lbs and therefore had great potential on the track.

The King cobra debuted at the Northwest Grand Prix in Kent Washington on September 1963 but both cars failed to finish. Dave MacDonald went on to race the Shelby cars, achieving victory at Laguna Seca, Riverside and Georgia.¹ At the end of the year, the cars were modified to rearward exhausts and ducts above the rear tires. They appeared this was at the Bahama Speed Weeks in Nassau and the Texas GP.

In 1964, Shelby prepared a five-car assault for the Riverside Times Grand Prix in November and Parnelli Jones raced CM/6/64 to a impressive victory. Unfortunately, Parnelli crashed during the next round at Laguna Seca, leaving the best placed Shelby in third behind the winning Chaparral of Roger Penske.¹

After 1964 Ford motivated Shelby to terminate the USRRC efforts to focus on the GT40 effort. The cars were sold for $3000 USD each and continued on with privateers.¹

Chassis and Sales.

CM/6/64-After Jones’ win at Riverside, Shelby sold chassis number CM 6/64 to Californian Bill Lowell, who hired Lothar Motschenbacher to drive it for the rest of the season. When Lowell defaulted on payment, Shelby reacquired the car, then sold it along with CM 5/64 to Oscar Kovaleski as part of Shelby’s famous 1965 “garage sale”. CM 6/64 is now owned by Larry Bowman of Bowman Motors, LLC in Redwood City, California and has been accurately restored to its 1964 Shelby specification. It was entered in the 2006 Monterey Historic Races, and featured in the “Cars of Parnelli Jones” display at the 2008 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, winning First in Class. Sold at Dana Mecum’s 2009 Original Spring Classic Auction for $600 000 USD plus commissions.

CM/3/63-Dave MacDonald drove car CM/1/63 during the 1963 Fall Series. The other car, CM/3/63 was driven by Bob Holbert who drove the car in 1963 and in the 1964 USRRC. Holbert retired during the season, so driving responsibility was passed to Dave MacDonald, Ken Miles, Augie Pabst, Skip Scott, Ed Leslie, and Ronnie Bucknum.The car was sold in 1966 to Alex A. Budurin of Tucson, Arizona. He passed away before taking possession and his widow sold it to Dwayne Zinola of Sunnyvale, California in 1967. By this time, the car had been equipped with a five-speed ZF gearbox. It was driven by Zinola in SCCA Competition and captured a National Championship.

Ownership passed to Don Ivy, who kept the car for a while before selling it to Robert N. Green of Santa Cruz, California in 1970. Green had the car authenticated by Carroll Shelby and then undertook a complete restoration, which was completed in 1991. He sold it in 1996.

This car is finished in Viking Blue livery with double white stripes. It still retains the ZF five-speed gearbox and many parts of the vehicle are still original. The original engine was blown by Don Ivy but a few of the original mechanical components, such as the four-Weber intake, oil pan, and valve covers are still original.

Sold for $935,000 USD at RM Auction’s 2007 Amelia Island Sale. Later offered at Gooding & Company’s 2008 Pebble Beach, but failed to meet reserve

Sources and Further Reading

1. Warner, Bill. “Road Racing Specials Part X”. Vintage Motorsport. 2003.

Cooper Type 61 Monaco King Cobra Gallery

See full Cooper Type 61 Monaco King Cobra Gallery

In Detail

typeRacing Car
production years1963 – 1964
released at1963 Kent, Washington Northwest Grand Prix
engine90º Ford V8
valvetrainPushrod OHV, 2 Valves per Cyl
displacement4727 cc / 288.46 in³
bore101.6 mm / 4.0 in
stroke72.9 mm / 2.87 in
power202.1 kw / 271 bhp @ 6000 rpm
specific output57.33 bhp per litre
bhp/weight459.32 bhp per tonne
torque425.7 nm / 314 ft lbs @ 3400 rpm
body / frameSteel Space Frame
driven wheelsRWD
wheel typeSTD Cooper
front brakesGirling Discs
rear brakesGirling Discs
f suspensionDouble Wisbones w/Amrstrong Shock Absorbers
r suspensionDouble Wisbones w/Amrstrong Shock Absorbers
curb weight590 kg / 1300 lbs
transmissionColotti T41

Auction Sales History

Cooper Type 61 Monaco King Cobra

1964 Cooper Monaco Race Car CM364

A nut and bolt restoration was completed in 2006. This very authentic 1964 Cooper Monaco, bearing the race number 64, is spectacularly painted in an all-American red, white and blue scheme. The car has been fully race prepped and professionally set-up and driven at the famous Mid-Ohio race car course. CM 3-64 retains all its original panels, frame, and comes powered by a new 600+hp 327 cubic inch Kinsler injected V8 mated to its original gearbox. The Cooper also comes accompanied by its original and fully rebuilt 327 cubic inch engine. The Cooper Monaco was restored based on all the information collected and original photographs of the car as it appeared in 1964. The original time sheets, a complete ownership record, and other documentation trace its SCCA and vintage racing history. Auction Source: 2007 Monterey Preview


Cooper Type 61 Monaco King Cobra
1963 Cooper Type 61 Monaco King Cobra CM/6/64 – did not sell for $425,000 Riverside LA Times Grand Prix-winner on Oct. 11th, 1964 with Parnelli Jones. Likely the most famous, original and correct ’64 Shelby Team King Cobra. Many historic racing entries, including Monterey Historics. FIA papers, documentation and continuous ownership history. Auction Source: RM Auctions’ 2010 Sports & Classics of Monterey