My Top-10: Model Racing Transporter Trucks – Part One


Old IrishJerry Liudahl, aka hobbyDB member Oldirish33, is an veteran of collecting automobilia and of crafting high end dioramas and signature pieces dating back to 1974. In the first of a three part series, Jerry takes us through some history of racing transporters via his own dioramas. Check out more of his work at Old Irish Racing!


 

I love trucks! I grew up around trucks of every shape and size and trucks have been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. I even drove trucks for my father’s business for a few years until I started what eventually became my career. That love and affinity for trucks has carried over into my collecting of miniature vehicles. Racing transporters marry that love of trucks and also my love for automobile racing.

The history of racing transporters is an interesting one. Today’s gleaming big semi-tractors and trailers in a modern race paddock have made the cramped old trucks and home-made trailers that carried some of racing’s best cars back in the day, a distant memory. Those older vehicles, many of which were underpowered (and under-braked) as they strained carrying heavy loads across Europe, have some great history themselves and are as interesting to me as many of the race cars they carried.

Over the years I have built up a collection of race vehicle haulers (not all were trucks). I am fascinated by how teams got from race to race and the vehicles that got them there. Whether it was using a well-worn sedan pulling a home-built trailer, or a more modern race hauler with mobile workshops and crew quarters, they are all equally interesting in their own right.

I have many wonderful racing transporters and race support vehicles in my collection. In Part One, here are ten at random from my collection, which can be seen in its entirety here.

 

1. 1966 OM Tigre “Abarth” – Model by Carrara Models

Old Irish

The Tigre is a medium to large duty truck produced by Officine Meccaniche (OM) from 1958 to 1972. OM was founded in 1899, producing cars, trucks and rail cars.

They were purchased by Fiat in 1933 and the brand, often called OM Fiat, lasted until 1975. This OM Tigre transporter was powered by a 6.9- liter four-cylinder. diesel engine that produced 105 hp and could transport up to 7.5 tons. It was one of two Tigre’s used extensively by Abarth, the Italian maker of race and road vehicles, to transport its race vehicles throughout Europe in the late 1960s and 1970s.

2. 1936 Alfa Romeo 500 “Scuderia Ferrari” – Model by Exoto

Alfa Romeo produced this 3-ton truck from 1936 until 1947. It was powered by a six- cylinder 6.1-liter diesel engine producing 75 HP. Enzo Ferrari’s Scuderia Ferrari was the team which managed and raced Alfa Romeo’s race cars from 1933 until 1939 and the advent of WWII. Ferrari had three of these 500 trucks, which could each carry a car, all the spares, fuel and crew for a race weekend across Europe. After WWII, Alfa Romeo used at least one 500 truck in its early F1 racing efforts.

3. 1952 Alfa Romeo 900 Biscara – “Alfa Romeo” – Model by GILA Modelli

The Alfa Romeo 900 was a heavy truck produced from 1947-1954 and with its 9.5-liter six-cylinder diesel engine (128 HP), could haul very heavy loads. It was a popular series of trucks and came in many different configurations and body styles, even being the basis for some buses. The Alfa Romeo factory used this famous transporter bodied by the Italian firm Bartoletti, to transport its race cars around Europe. Favored for its ability to haul four or five cars, spare parts, fuel, etc., it, however, offered no weather protection for the cars in transit, or the mechanics who had to work on them on race weekends. It was replaced in the late 1950’s for enclosed trailers which were becoming more popular.

4. 1960 Commer-Alexander TS3 “Ecurie Ecosse” – Model by SMTS

Perhaps one of the most famous race transporters ever built, is the Commer chassis-based transporter custom built for the Scottish racing team Ecurie Ecosse. It was designed and bodied by the firm Alexander’s in the UK. Designed to haul three race cars, it also featured a small workshop and storage for spares, as well as a small lounge for the race crew. It was powered by a super-charged three-cylinder diesel engine of 3.2-liters and produced 90 BHP. It was a very modern looking truck when introduced and saw Ecurie Ecosse through its final years of racing into the late 1960’s.

5. 1952 Fiat 642 Biscara – “Scuderia Ferrari” – Model by Tron Models

When Enzo Ferrari resumed racing with cars bearing his own name after WWII, he used enclosed trucks to carry his sports and grand prix cars to race weekends. Favored for its robust chassis (it was in production 1948-1960), Ferrari used this special bodied medium duty truck from 1952 until at least 1957. Utilizing a 6.6-liter diesel engine, the transporter could haul two cars, spares and a crew. It proved to be a popular design as Ferrari’s chief rival Maserati also used a very similar transporter in the mid-1950’s.

6. 1957 Fiat 642/RN2 Bartoletti & 1959 Fiat 682/RN2 Bartoletti – “Scuderia Ferrari” – Models by Old Cars

 

The most iconic race transporter of all time has to be the Fiat 642/RN2 and its look-like sister, the 682/RN2. Moving away from enclosed transporters in order to carry more cars and sleeping accommodation for crew, Ferrari had the coachbuilding firm Bartoletti make the first of the 642 based transporters for the 1957 racing season (Bartoletti also made one for cross-town rivals, Maserati). When the more powerful 682/RN2 came along with its bigger 10.7-liter diesel engine, Ferrari added one of these Bartoletti bodied transporters to its fleet as well. Both were popular and common sights in race paddocks up into the mid-1960’s.

7. 1963 Ford Thames Trader – “Maranello Concessionaires” – Model by ABC Brianza

Maranello Concessionaires was the London based team owned by Ferrari dealer and distributor Col. Ronnie Hoare. Ferrari depended on private teams like this (which received direct factory support), to help uphold the marques honor in GT endurance prototype races. They needed a versatile transporter to haul race cars across the UK and Europe. This transporter is based on the 5-ton Ford Thames Trader, the first heavy duty commercial truck chassis designed by Ford of Britain. Besides hauling a race car, crew of three and spares, it also featured a 68-gallon fuel tank, so the team was insured of sufficient petrol at race venues.

8. 1987 MAN F90 “TWR Silk Cut Jaguar” – Model by IXO/New Ray (modified)

The F90 was a heavy-duty truck produced by MAN truck and Bus Co. from 1986-1994 and was offered in a variety of configurations up to 48-tons and turbo-charged diesel engine options from 290-420 HP. It won International Truck of the Year honors in 1987.

A ‘modern’ race transporter which reflects how complex team race support has become. During its World Sports Car Championship campaigns in the late 1980s and early 1990s, TWR/Jaguar had two of these large transporters, plus one or two smaller trucks in support of their Group C endurance racing efforts in Europe. That included wins at Le Mans in 1988 and 1990.

9. 1953 Lancia Esatau P – “Lancia” – Model by ABC Brianza

Perhaps the most beautiful racing transporter ever built! The Lancia Esatau was a series of heavy trucks and bus chassis made between 1948-73. They were powered by a 8.9-liter inline six-cylinder diesel engine, producing 132 HP. Lancia used this enclosed transporter bodied by Garavini of Turin, for use on the Carrera Panamericana and other sportscar races in 1953. It carried their D-50 Formula One cars in 1954 & 1955. It could carry four cars, spares and crew. The transporter disappeared when Ferrari bought the race team cars and assets in 1955, thought to have been sold to be used as a horse transporter.

10. 1963 Austin A110 Westminster – “Donald Healey Motor Co.” – Model by K&R

Replicas kit built by O.I.R. Donald Healey’s small Warwick based automotive firm in the UK privately entered Le Mans every year between 1960 and 1970. Despite having created the car which became the Austin Healey, the firm never had great amounts of cash to go racing and funded those efforts on their own without much sponsorship support. It was truly a
budget racing effort at Le Mans in 1970, with their prototype race car hauled to Le Mans behind an older borrowed Austin sedan and trailer. The Westminster which had an Austin 3.0-Liter engine originally, was replaced by a tuned Austin Healey 3000 engine, which gave it slightly more power for towing the car, trailer, spares and crew.

All of these models, like the majority of my collection, are in 1/43 scale. Unfortunately, many of these, which were limited productions to begin with, are no longer available from retail shops but do show up at various auctions from time to time.

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Karl
Karl
8 days ago

I love those old Alfa trucks (and race cars) but who knew Lancia built trucks? But as you said, the most famous one might be the Commer Ecurie Ecosse, because the real one was restored and sold for $$$ or because of this one: https://www.hobbydb.com/marketplaces/hobbydb/catalog_items/commer-ecurie-ecosse-model-trucks

Oldirish33
Oldirish33
6 days ago
Reply to  Karl

I still have an old Corgi Ecurie Ecosse transporter in my collection. They were wonderful models! Lancia made many trucks and busses and I will feature another Lancia transporter in the next installment.

Sam
Sam
5 days ago

Very interesting read, some of those trucks are just as beautiful as the cars. Thanks for sharing!

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