To Monaco via Monte Carlo – the Cooper Monaco v Lotus 15 &19


This is further piece in our dedicated series comparing and contrasting Lotus and Cooper.

These two brands have a massive impact on British motorsport which continues up until today.

During the 1960’s they were at a zenith and impacted through to culture and fashion.

Both enjoyed the skills of the world’s best drivers.

The two brands were diametrically opposed in design philosophies.

Both a worthy of detailed study.

Here we attempt this in a form of benchmarking of the respective brands sports racers. Of significance is the early contrast of the Lotus front engine cars and the parity achieved with the move to mid-engine layout.

This piece is partly inspired by a period magazine feature exploring and contrasting 4 well known sports racing cars of the era.

Subscribers might like to see the directly relevant and integrated A&R pieces that complement and help structure this article: –

  • Lotus 19 [ two dedicated pieces]
  • Lotus 15
  • Cooper Bobtail
  • The Cooper/ Lotus –full series
  • Lotus Design Decades the 1960’s

Coventry Climax

Our initial comparison starts with the shared use of the Coventry climax engine.

The following specification was adopted in a comparative analysis in period

Engine 1.5 litre 2 litre
Coventry Climax FPF
cylinders 4
bore 81.2 86.4
stroke 71.1 83.8
cubic capacity 1475 1960
valve gear twin ohc
compression ratio 10.0 to 1 12.4 to 1
max power 145 @7250 rpm 176 @6500
carburetters 2 x twin choke SU
or Weber horizontal
lubrication dry sump

Editors sketch of Coventry Climax FPF installed in Lotus 19

Editors sketch of Coventry Climax FPF installed in Lotus 19 for purpose of comprehending form and function –see dedicated article for full explanations & illustrations

TheCooper Monaco Lotus 15- contrasted

Specification/item Cooper Monaco Lotus Type 15
Clutch Borg&Beck 2-plate 2-plate
Gearbox Four-speed Ersa Five -speed Lotus or 4 speed BMC B series
Rear axle Combined with gaerbox ZF differential in Lotus casing
Chassis Multi-tube Multi-tube with floor stiffening
front suspension Coil springs, wishbones and a-r-bar Coil springs, wishbones and a-r-bar
rear suspension transverse leaf spring and wishbones Independent , coil springs on tele -damper
struts, non -telescopic drive shafts and trailing arms
shock absorbers telescopic , front combined with telescopic , front combined with
Coil springs, wishbones and a-r-bar Coil springs, wishbones and a-r-bar
Steering Rack & pinion Rack & pinion
Brakes Girling Disc Girling Disc [inboard rear]
Wheel base 7ft.-7ins 7ft-4ins
track 3ft-11ins front 3ft.-10ins rear 4ft-0ins
overall length 11ft-8ins 11ft-5 ins
overall width 4ft-10ins 5ft-0ins
overall height 2ft-9.5ins 2ft [to scuttle]
dry weight 10cwt 8.75cwt

The Cooper Monaco

Twite: –

The Cooper Monaco has been sold in various forms by the Cooper Car company for many years and is a true sports/racing car complying with the current Appendix “C” regulations for sports racing cars .In reality it is a wider version of the Cooper formula 1 car having a similar multi-tubular chassis frame of large diameter tubes but the car is widened to accommodate the two regulation seats……….

A variety of engines have been fitted in the rear of the Cooper Monaco ………4-cylinder Maserati 2.8L, 4-cylinder Ferrari but the most popular engines have been the Coventry Climax 4-cylinder units starting with the 1.5 litre and going on through the 2 litre ., the 2.5 litre ……and finally the “stretched” 2.7 litre version …..

The Cooper Monaco has seen little success in long distance races mainly because the Cooper factory has concentrated on its F1 programme and has seldom run sports cars itself. Therefore the car has usually been run by private owners …….

In short distance races the car has had a great deal of success and there has been many battles between it and the Lotus 19.

There are several Cooper Monaco exponents in the United states who regularly achieve wins in road races ……….

Cooper Monaco picture from Twite

Specification of Cooper Monaco from Twite

Specification Cooper Monaco
Engine /Cyli Coventry Climax [stretched] water cooled
Bore /Stroke 96 x 95 mm
CC 2,750cc
Valve Gear twin ohc
Comp Ratio 11 to 1
Carburettors 2x Weber
Max.Power 250 bhp at 6,200 rpm
Trans/Gears 5-speed
Front Brakes Girling disc
Rear Brakes Girling disc
Steering rack and pinion
Front Susp’ wishbone and coilspring
Rear Susp’ wishbone and coilspring
Chassis multi-tubular
Wheel base 7ft-7in
Front Track 4ft-6in
Rear Track 4ft-6in
O’length 12ft-1in
O’width.body n/a
Kerb weight 1,250lb
Front Tyres 5.00 x 15in
Rear Tyres 6.50 x 15in

Form and Function

These drawings dramatically highlight the differing approach to chassis design. See A&R piece on T39 for further details

Chassis drawing Allington

Engineering drawings from period model magazines

The Lotus 15

Avoiding repetition subscribers are directed to our dedicated article.

Editors working drawing of Lotus 15

Note this very significant and highly redolent image of the Lotus 15 outside the Tottenham Lane factory.The John Ross Motoring Archive

The Lotus 19

Avoiding repetition subscribers are directed to our dedicated articles.

Editors chassis drawing from Allington along with the chassis model with mannequin to indicate ergonomics

Editors working drawing of Lotus 19

Production Volumes

The editors believe approximately 14 Cooper Monaco’s were sold.

This compares with the Lotus sports racing cars [ from Taylor]: –

Type 11 [270]

Type 15 [27]

Type17 [23]

Type19 [17]

Type23 [131]

The production volumes are revealing .

Learning Opportunities

Our learning /educational opportunities are intended to be challenging thought provoking and requiring additional research and/or analysis.

These opportunities are particularly designed for a museum/education centre location where visitors would be able to enjoy access to all the structured resources available in conjunction with any concurrent exhibition.

In this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate: –

  • Access A&R materials relating to Hornsey and the Lotus factory – see also Corrie Bevingtons imagery taken around the same time

Note this very significant and highly redolent image of the Lotus 15 outside the Tottenham Lane factory. The John Ross Motoring Archive

  • Compare and contrast the Lotus 11, 15 &17
  • See A&R dedicated articles on Lotus and Cooper
  • Compare and contrast Lotus 19 and Copper Monaco race results – what is revealed?
  • How many of these respective cars were exported to America? And raced by whom?
  • Study the race results for Stirling Moss in the respective brands cars
  • Both cars used a variety of engines –enumerate these and explain respective merits
  • Which American V8 units were grated onto the respective cars?
  • The weight of the Cooper Monaco and Lotus 19 were similar – explain and examine closely respective chassis

Exhibitions, Education, Economics and Entertainment

In the museum context the editors believe that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our suggested outline Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition, we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In this instance we suggest the following exhibition titles might be appropriate [ with Casino spin]: –

  • Chapman performs surgery on 19-year-old for Appendix C
  • Chapman at the Wheel: Steering wheel and wheel of fortune
  • Chapman spins the wheels, wheels of fortune
  • Chapman and Lotus going for it – Nineteen to the dozen
  • Lotus and Cooper’s- high stakes in 1960’s
  • Lotus and Cooper: Odds on favorites
  • Lotus and Cooper: Playing the horses at Monte Carlo
  • The Lotus 19:The numbers game
  • Chapman’s clean sweep
  • The Cooper Monaco and Lotus 19: double your money


Avoiding repetition subscribers are directed to our dedicated pieces on Lotus and Cooper.

Possibly most significant and worth emphasising is: –

  • Both brands were competeting against each other at various levels
  • Both were London based and had a significant impact on the culture of the Swinging Sixties
  • Both were selling customer cars
  • Both adopted a range of proprietary engines, significantly the Coventry Climax and various American V8’s once exported to USA
  • Cooper mutated their single seat Formula cars in sports racers and Chapman followed doubling up the 18 & 19 and then the 23
  • Neither of these two brands did particularly well in long distance racing possibly due to a lack of commitment / concentration on F1
  • Stirling Moss drove both marques with success

The Lotus 15 was built at Hornsey.


See Cooper /Lotus series and dedicated pieces on specific Lotus types

The World’s Racing Cars.Twite. Macdonald.1964

The John Ross Motoring Archive

Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However, by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.

*Items in italics non-A&R library books.