The Ecurie Ecosse Transporter – 1960 Commer TS3
“A motor-racing team…has to regard its transporter as the equivalent of the advanced base of a unit going into battle.” Ecurie Ecosse patron, David Murray
The most famous racing transporter of them all – built to the order of the Ecurie Ecosse Association for the use of Scotland’s world-beating privateer racing team.
Unique in design and execution, this one-off transporter is among the most achingly special surviving artefacts of Ecurie Ecosse, symbolizing that team’s two famous Le Mans victories for Scotland and for Britain.
Conceived in 1959, an official of the Ecurie Ecosse Association supporters club named John Stenhouse met with team patron David Murray proposing an entirely custom-built transporter as a means of sortie to continental and other racing engagements.
With Murray and head mechanic Wilkie Wilkinson having long envied the sleek transporters of the continental works racing teams, this was a magnificent offer, and endearingly sponsored by the team’s thousands of supporters and select members of Scotland’s business community.
Donation of the Commer TS3 chassis was arranged by Alastair Cormack, managing director of Rootes agents James Ross & Sons Motors and President of the Scottish Motor Trade Association. This featured Commer’s three horizontal cylinder 3.2L diesel power unit, with six opposed pistons driving a single crankshaft, and Roots-type supercharger.
Coachwork was by Walter Alexander and Company of Falkirk, specialist truck and bus coachbuilders, under its managing director and Ecosse Association member Ronnie Alexander, with other support from the likes of Lucas, Dunlop, and British Aluminium who supplied the alloy panelling.
The ingenious design was by Selby Howgate, Walter Alexander’s design manager whwo had an aviation background. Behind the spacious cab with its forward-raked windscreen lay a fitted workshop, and transport for three D-Type sized machines, two up top, one on the bottom deck. Whimsically the coachwork swept upward at the tail to a stylish finish.
The Transporter was painted in Flag Metallic Blue, emblazoned with the Saltire badge and legendary name, and registered VSG 9. After making her debut at Charterhall to great acclaim in May 1960, she carried XKD 606 to Le Mans in June, the final D to race there in period. By Christmas 1961 the replica toy by Corgi had been released, to the joy of children everywhere and helping cement the transporter’s utter fame.
When the Ecurie Ecosse team wound down, the transporter was sold off to racer Neil Corner, also the owner of an ex-Ecosse D-Type. Repainted silver with Corner Racing signage, he would send the transporter on to race meetings, then arrive on the day by helicopter. Later owners included Ecosse enthusiast Campbell McLaren, then Lynx founder Roger Ludgate, but by the 1980s she was showing the years.
In a great stroke of fortune, racer Dick Skipworth acquired VSG 9 in 1992 at the suggestion of Lynx’s Chris Keith-Lucas, after a soaking on the way home from Donington aboard his D-Type revealed the need for waterproof transport. A monumental restoration followed at Lynx, with a team led by long-time employee John Hay. Keith-Lucas recalls that all the tax discs remained in place, and even the medical kit with the bandages and bottles remained intact.
Thousands of magnesium rivets were replaced, and the great proportion of the alloy coachwork saved, before reinstating the historic Flag Metallic Blue livery she wears today. The workshop was refitted as a seating area, the ramp lifting cables were strengthened, and a modern winch swapped for the original magnesium unit taken from a Wellington bomber – but still supplied with the spares.
As reborn, the Ecurie Ecosse transporter became the centrepiece of Skipworth’s huge collection of Ecurie Ecosse racers – taken to race meetings all over Europe, and even to Pebble Beach. This collection was dispersed by a major auction house in 2013, with the transporter acquired by American art collector Adam Lindemann, together with the Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-Type MWS 303 (XKD 561) which we are also currently offering.
Most recently the Ecosse transporter has resided in one of the world’s greatest collections of historic Jaguar sports racing cars, in the ownership of a prominent racer and racing patron. Cared for by Chris Keith-Lucas and the team at CKL Developments, and remaining in excellent condition, she frequently appears in the paddock at Goodwood and other events, and is adored by the racing public.
Eminently capable of her original purpose, she would be a superb means of conveyance for an outstanding collection of competition Jaguars, or indeed could form the nucleus of a new Ecurie Ecosse collection. The transporter of all transporters, she is among the most important legacies of Scotland’s greatest racing team, which would be a privilege for any of the world’s greatest collections to possess.