Chassis number: F2-9-58
Here we are proud to offer a truly historic British built Grand Prix car which not only won the most prized race on the Formula 1 calendar - the Monaco Grand Prix - but which was also owned and entered by the most famous motor racing private entrant, the legendary Rob Walker. Perhaps even more importantly, this car represented another nail in the coffin for the traditional front-engined Grand Prix car and introduced to Grand Prix racing the rear-engined revolution. F2-9-58 is by any definition a truly important car.
Built by the Cooper Car Co Ltd at Surbiton in early 1958, F2-9-58 was an example of that year’s new Type 45 design. This featured coil-and-wishbone front suspension in place of the transverse leaf-spring which Cooper had used since producing their first car in 1945. The change provided a great improvement in road holding and was regarded by contemporary drivers as having provided “a quantum leap” in cornering performance, while crucially retaining the famously good natured and enormously enjoyable Cooper handling. Fitted with the twin-cam Coventry Climax engine, in the case of this car to just over 2-litres capacity, and using an ERSA four speed gearbox this made a highly effective (indeed as in this case giant-killing) combination.
Famed gentleman private entrant and Johnny Walker Whisky heir, Rob Walker, was by this point undoubtedly the leading Grand Prix racing private entrant. Having promised his new wife in the 1940s not to race himself, Walker had the means, enthusiasm and shrewdness to run the best equipment possible for the leading racing drivers of the day; most famously of course Stirling Moss. Walker’s chief mechanic was the famous Polish émigré ‘Alf Francis’ who would become famous for giving this plucky British underdog team equipment good enough to beat the very best.
For 1958 Stirling Moss had arranged to drive for the Vanwall team in most of the major Grand Prix races. For events which Vanwall were not attending Moss agreed to drive instead for his close friend Rob Walker in his team of Cooper-Climax cars. Thus Moss was behind the wheel of the team’s earlier Cooper Type 43 for the Formula 1 World Championship opening Argentine Grand Prix where in a typically ultra-fast and intelligent drive he defeated a horde of Italian front-engined Grand Prix cars.
From contemporary reports and the Walker Team’s tradition of painting race wins onto the scuttles of winning chassis during this period, it is believed that Moss drove the car offered here - F2-9-58 - in the non-Championship Formula 1 Aintree ‘200’ race in Liverpool, England, winning by 0.2 second from Jack Brabham’s works car.
At Monte Carlo, while Moss drove for Vanwall, Walker chose to run leading French driver Maurice Trintignant, winner of the 1954 Le Mans 24-hour race and the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix in both cases aboard works-entered Ferraris. The friendly Trintignant was a highly capable driver and the perfect man to have behind the wheel of ‘F2-9-58’ at Monaco, since he had cut his teeth on road circuits in France before the Second World War and relished their challenge. Fitted with a 2015cc Climax power unit ‘F2-9-58’ qualified strongly on the second row of the grid and ran fifth for the opening 22 laps. The Vanwalls retired which left Mike Hawthorn’s Ferrari Dino V6 leading by half-a-minute from Trintignant, driving steadily in the Walker Cooper. On lap 46 the Italian factory car failed, thus handing the race lead to Trintignant.
The veteran French star then drove a model race to win comfortably – and received a tumultuous reception from Prince Rainier and the deliriously partisan French crowd. Trintignant’s race average was still a new record, at 67.99mph, while Jack Brabham’s factory Cooper with its larger 2.2-litre engine finished fourth. The Rob Walker team, headed by Rob himself and by chief mechanic Alf Francis could hardly believe it – for their winning car had trailed smoke all the way… In Argentina, Rob Walker had become the first private owner ever to win a Formula 1 World Championship race, and now he became the first ever to win two such prestigious events in succession.
In subsequent races these interim-engined Cooper-Climax cars were overwhelmed by the greater power and torque of the full 2½-litre factory cars from Vanwall, Ferrari and BRM. Trintignant finished ninth in the Walker entry in the Dutch GP, eighth in the British and Portuguese, and third in the German; all of these results it is believed being achieved in the car offered here ‘F2-9-58’, while Stirling Moss drove the car once again to secure a comfortable victory in the non-Championship Caen Grand Prix.
It was reported contemporarily that the R.R.C.Walker Racing Team then retained their 1958-built Monaco-winning chassis for the 1959 season, when it was reconfigured to carry one of the latest 1500cc 4-cylinder fuel-injected, 16-valve Borgward engines for Formula 2 racing.
It is believed that ‘F2-9-58’ became the prototype Formula 2 Cooper-Borgward and was test driven by the Bremen factory engineer Fritz Juttner.
Maurice Trintignant then gave this Walker Cooper-Borgward – still assembled around its Monaco GP-winning chassis from the previous season - its racing debut in the F2 category of the Aintree ‘200’, but it disappointed.
The Walker team’s F2 cars became fully developed in a long break before the Reims weekend in July, with Moss winning easily there, then again at Rouen where Trintignant’s sister car placed fifth. Moss won again at Clermont-Ferrand and Brands Hatch.
It is believed that this car was acquired by Trintignant himself for the 1960 season, with the intention of running the car in international Formula 2 events. At this point the car was re-engined with a 1.5-litre Coventry Climax FPF engine, identical but smaller capacity to that which the car had used during the 1958 season. During this year the car was run for Trintignant by the well-known Italian Centro Sud Racing Team (both were BP sponsored) for whom he was also driving in Formula 1 during that year. Once again the pairing of F2-9-58 and Maurice Trintignant would prove very successful with many placings and overall victory at Montlhery.
It then appears that ‘F2-9-58’ was subsequently acquired by Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata for his Scuderia SSS Serenissima di Venezia team’s use in 1961, once again with Trintignant at the wheel, when it was fitted with rather more ‘modern looking’ angular bodywork rendering it distinctively different from any other Cooper then in premier-league competition.
This distinctively-bodied car was acquired in 1964 by the prominent Swiss racing car collector/dealer Pierre de Siebenthal of Lausanne. The car remained with de Siebenthal in his Aladdin’s Cave of motoring exotica for many years until being acquired by Swiss collector Jean-Pierre Boss in 1997.
In need of restoration F2-9-58 was dispatched to historic racing Cooper specialist John Harper in Britain in 1999, reaching this country still with its distinctive 1961 bodywork although these panels were in severely corroded and damaged form. While the chassis frame and running gear were found to be in acceptable order – despite the chassis being slightly distorted after its many years of hard use – the angular bodywork was discarded. John Harper then rebodied the car into its present form, following its 1958 Rob Walker team Coventry Climax-engined configuration as closely as possible, see invoice on file totaling circa £65,000 for this extensive restoration.
Once restored and running the car was used sparingly by Boss, though he was able to reunite Trintignant with his winning mount for the 2000 Monaco Historique Grand Prix. The car retains this legendary driver’s signature affectionately applied upon its nose that day,
Following Mr Boss’s death in 2011 ‘F2-9-58’ was acquired at Bonhams Monaco auction by the current owner, a great enthusiast for historically important British competition cars of the highest quality, who had been looking for the right Grand Prix car to join his collection for some time. There it joined similarly historic pre and post-War British sports racing cars and ‘F2-9-58’ would benefit from the same sympathetic approach to its custodianship - namely no expense being spared to make it a safe useable competition car without deviating from its period-correct specification. To this end, a complete strip down was undertaken with all parts being checked and repaired/replaced where necessary, carried out by marque specialist, Pace Products, with further work and parts supplied by the world renowned Crosthwaite and Gardiner concern, this work including engine, gearbox and chassis rebuilds.
As testament to the thoroughness of this overhaul and subsequent race preparation there are bills on file totaling circa £145,000. While in its current ownership, the car has run at Goodwood Revival and Members’ meetings on numerous occasions, most recently taking part in the Rob Walker tribute demonstration at the 2018 Revival.
It has also competed in the Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, at Dijon and in the Silverstone Classic. Racing primarily for enjoyment, the current owner would not describe himself as a ‘hot-shoe’, but the car has always run well and reliably and when lent to friend and respected historic racer Gareth Burnett, it proved its innate competitiveness by qualifying 3rd for the Brabham Trophy at the 2017 Goodwood Members’ Meeting.
‘F2-9-58’ is accompanied by FIA HTP paperwork valid until 2027, several sets of expired FIA papers, sundry invoices, race results sheets, various spare parts ( list on file) and a letter of authenticity from Cooper authority Doug Nye which confirms he considers this car to be the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix winner.
It is only offered for sale now because the owner does not have time to use it as much as he feels a car of this importance and quality should.
With its sister Argentine Grand Prix winning Walker Type 43 already in the world-renowned Collier Collection in Florida, USA, ‘F2-9-58’ now represents a unique opportunity to acquire a car which combines winning the most famous and glamorous Grand Prix of all, with ownership by the most charismatic of Grand Prix racing private entrants, plus ushering-in one of the most significant technological breakthroughs in motor racing history.
And it is - of course - perfectly eligible for the world’s great historic motoring events.
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