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1962 Tojeiro Buick EE Coupe

1962 Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro-Buick Ex-Le Mans and Sir Jackie Stewart

  • Pioneering first mid-engine GT prototype for Britain
  • Developed by Ecurie Ecosse and Tojeiro for Le Mans
  • Period history at 1962 Le Mans and other events
  • Raced by legendary Flying Scot Sir Jackie Stewart
  • Historic Ecurie Ecosse racer eligible for the best events

This Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro was the first mid-engine GT prototype built in Britain, predating even the Lola GT – ahead of its time, historically important and the sole example raced at Le Mans, its pioneering design represents a highly ambitious development effort from the autumn years of Scotland’s famed privateer racing team.

With memories still fresh of the team’s two famous Le Mans victories with the Jaguar D-Type, by 1961 Ecosse patron David Murray was in a new car predicament, running a Cooper Monaco and even a modified Austin Healey Sprite at that year’s Le Mans. With Jaguar not supplying a D-Type successor, Murray decided to develop two mid-engine racers for Le Mans 1962, with designer-constructor John Tojeiro (or “Toj”), who had previously supplied a Tojeiro Jaguar loaned to Ecosse and a second for Le Mans 1959.

Sporting an advanced mid-engine concept and initially powered by the 2.5L Coventry Climax engine with Cooper gearbox, the suspension and basic construction of the multi-tube chassis was developed from the Tojeiro Formula Junior single-seater.  Both chassis were bodied in alloy in coupé form by Wakelands of Byfleet for the new GT prototype class, to a design by Edinburgh-born marine and landscape painter Cavendish Morton, who worked in aircraft at Saunders Roe during the war and also drew bodies for other Tojeiros. Interviewed much later about his efforts, Cav remarked “Oh and by the way you didn’t come across my invoice did you? I never did get paid for it!”

According to marque historian Graham Gauld, this Tojeiro EE-Climax was the first completed chassis TAD-4-62, travelling untested and unpainted to Le Mans 1962 with work in progress aboard the team’s famous transporter (even surviving a shunt en route). Piloted by Tommy Dickson of Perth and veteran Jack Fairman, for this brand-new independent GT to even start the race was no small feat, with the team’s famous Flag Metallic Blue livery drying just in time for scrutineering.  Creditably the Le Mans adventure saw the team running into the night as the second-placed British entry, before a gearbox failure sadly led to retirement after eight hours. Copies of the fascinating Le Mans entry and scrutineering forms as retained by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest are on file, bearing chassis number TAD-4-62.

After an incident in torrential rain in the Guards Trophy International race at Brands Hatch necessitated repairs, Murray then took the EE Tojeiro to Monza in October 1962 to attempt the FIA one-hour and 100-kilometre speed records, probably seeking a splash of publicity. Jack Fairman had earned his nickname “Fearless” on the Monza banking aboard a D-Type in the famous Monzanopolis “Race of Two Worlds” against the U.S. Indianapolis racers – and the EE Tojeiro clocked the highest speed around the banked circuit for a car of that type – at 152 mph.

On reflection, Murray realized the EE Tojeiro-Climax needed more power, and with chief mechanic Stan Sproat and Toj himself decided to turn to the lightweight alloy Buick V8, mated to a modified Corvair transaxle. The V8s were dry-sumped and modified to improve power output with high-compression pistons, special camshafts, and unique fabricated crossover inlet manifolds. With the coupé bodies also modified with chopped Kamm tails and lightened, the second chassis was completed with Buick power, and the first Le Mans car TAD-4-62 similarly re-engined and given a revised chassis number, TAD-2-63, as detailed in Gauld’s marque history. TAD-2-63 was colloquially known as EEII to the Ecurie Ecosse team and the chassis was stamped as such at a later date.

In this form, she raced through 1963 in various British events, most notably with the young Sir Jackie Stewart, signed by David Murray and brother to Ecosse driver Jimmy Stewart. The budding Flying Scot won with her at Snetterton in August, 1963, a third again at Snetterton, and retired at Oulton Park. Other appearances included a fourth with Tommy Dickson at Ouston, a second with Dickson at Charterhall, and 14th at Silverstone with Douglas Graham.  

For 1964, development focussed on the second chassis which was given Ford Cobra power, eventually having the roof removed and competing in open form. In 1965 or so the Buick-engined prototype was sold by Ecurie Ecosse and acquired by a Canadian enthusiast. In the 1980s she returned to Scotland, joining the stable of modern Ecosse patron Hugh McCaig and occasionally campaigned. Later owned by Charles Worsley and for a time part of the legendary Dick Skipworth Ecurie Ecosse collection, she has appeared at multiple Goodwood Revivals and other historic racing events.

A Le Mans veteran with Ecurie Ecosse and a landmark in design, this EE Tojeiro Buick pioneered the “cart before the horse” approach to GTs, representing the first rear engine closed roof GT prototype, one year ahead of the Lola / GT40 bloodline.  She attracts great interest whenever she appears, intriguing onlookers and anoraks alike, and represents one of the select group of surviving Ecurie Ecosse racers, one of the greatest privateer racing teams ever.  Advanced in concept and eminently historic, she is certain to be welcome at the greatest historic motoring events.