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AS UNLIKELY AS it seems, engines with two pistons per cylinder have powered lots of British-built trucks and buses around the world. Today, in Part 2 of our Commer Knocker tale, a Scottish motor sports team profits from this unorthodox technology in its finned transporter.
Ecurie Ecosse Motor Sports. “Ecurie Ecosse,” French for “Scottish Stable,” was founded in 1951 by Edinburgh sportsman David Murray and mechanic Wilkie Wilkinson.
According to the Ecurie Ecosse website, the original team transporter was an “ageing Albion coach,” i.e., a converted bus.
A New Transporter. Ecurie Ecosse successes, including double wins overall at Le Mans, 1956–1957, led to a custom-built one-off transporter commissioned in 1959. Based on Commer chassis and running gear, the Ecurie Ecosse transporter had aluminum bodywork, styled wiith an upward sweep at the rear. Its designer, Selby Howgate, said rhetorically, “What is the most streamlined thing in nature… a fish.”
As described in the Bonhams catalog, the Ecurie Ecosse transporter carried one car on its ‘bottom deck,’ and two ‘up top.’ Aft of the spacious cab was a six-by-six-foot workshop area which also gave underside access to the cars on top.
Bonhams noted, “It has been written that: ‘The new Ecurie Ecosse vehicle was without doubt the most memorable of all the transporters from that era, eye-catching in the extreme with its long, rakish lines and forward-sloping windscreen to allow the upper ramps to run the full length of the vehicle…. its unique exhaust note giving advanced warning of its approach….’ ”
Own Your Own. Such is the fame of Ecurie Ecosse that English toymaker Corgi issued model No. GS16, the rig and three racing cars of the era, a Vanwall F1, a BRM F1, and a Lotus Eleven Le Mans. From time to time, the set has appeared at Bonham auctions, with prices ranging from £396 (around $500) to £540 (around $685) for the lot shown, which sold in April 2008.
In December 2013, Bonhams auctioned a collection of full-size restored Ecurie Ecosse vehicles, including its iconic transporter. BBC News, November 30, 2013, gave details.
Indeed, total sales at Bonhams’ 2013 Ecurie Ecosse auction were £8.8 million (around $14.4 million U.S.) The 1960 Commer TS3 Three-Car Transporter sold for £1,793,500 ($2,271,013 U.S.) inc. premium. Let’s avoid any pun about a Commer Knocker knockdown. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019