The 1957 Merrick Leyland Vanwall truck
- Offered by Bonham's from their auction guide
- October 24, 2007
Merrick Leyland Vanwall transporter
The Ex-Vandervell Products Vanwall Formula 1 Team
Leyland Worldmaster Series Royal Tiger Grand Prix Car Transporter
Registration no. TYO 717
Chassis no. 5708914RT32399
This wonderfully evocative historic vehicle is the Vanwall Formula 1 team transporter that was deployed by the Acton-based World Championship-winning team through its legendary seasons of 1957-58. In the February 1959 issue of ‘Motor Racing’ magazine, Vanwall team mechanic Derek Wootton wrote: “…The Vanwall organisation has two of the most versatile transporters in the racing world. One is a Leyland Royal Tiger chassis with a special body, the approximate price being in the region of $4,300, less the interior workshop fittings” – and this is the wonderfully evocative vehicle we are now delighted to be offering here. It has an under-floor 6-cylinder 11.1-litre diesel engine and a 4-speed pre-selector gearbox. The bodywork is in plywood-backed aluminium sheet over a wooden frame.
Derek Wootton continued: “Ferrari and Maserati carry their cars in open-type Fiat transporters which, although good, expose them to extra dust and rain…the cars must suffer on occasion. Our vans carry two cars each – it is not our policy to put all our eggs in one basket. Our transporters are large, because we carry a very extensive range of spares and equipment. The Leyland, when loaded, weighs about 11 tons and measures 30 feet by 8 feet…
“When on the road we usually start at 8am and stop for lunch at about 12.30. Tea at 10 am is made in the cab with an electric kettle and drunk on the move. Lunch generally takes 1½-2 hours, and the rest is certainly welcome. Driving shifts normally last 3-4 hours. We try to pull into a good hotel at about 8pm for a comfortable night’s rest. None of our accommodation en route is ever booked in advance…”
Of course this tremendously historic transporter has many tales to tell. Several are related within the documentation file accompanying this Lot. The Acton to Casablanca trip closing the 1957 season was particularly hectic, ‘TYO’ being parked on the first night in Paris before covering 350 miles next day to Bordeaux. At 8am next morning ‘TYO’ rumbled through the forests of Bayonne to Biarritz and the Spanish border post at Irun. It had been arranged that Spanish road documents would be available there to clear ‘TYO’ for its onward journey. They were not. After an epic at Irun, ‘TYO’ and its sister crossed into Spain at 4.30pm, pluming on through torrential rain to reach Madrid at 1am. After 4½ hours sleep, the team headed on for Gibraltar. At Malaga the offside rear spring lost a shackle pin. This took 2½-hours to repair before the drive continued overnight to reach La Linea and Gibraltar at 5am. They had to wait until 7.30 for the frontier post to open, their ferry for Tangier sailing 12.30pm. They drove on into French Morocco, spent that night in Souk-el-Arba, and next day arrived in Casablanca in time for lunch. On the return trip, after the race, the team’s sister 1953 Bedford transporter broke a front spring on a rough Spanish road and without a spare available, the convoy had to complete the epic journey at a maximum 40mph.
It was from ‘TYO’ that Vanwall became the first British manufacturer ever to win the British Grand Prix, at Aintree in 1957 with drivers Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks. It was from ‘TYO’ that they followed up with victories in the Pescara and Italian Grands Prix. In 1958 ‘TYO’ took in both the Monaco and Dutch GPs in one 2,150-mile round trip – Stirling Moss winning the Zandvoort race. It was from ‘TYO’ that Tony Brooks won the Belgian and German GPs, and from ‘TYO’ that Moss won the Portuguese GP and Brooks the Italian as the team completed both races in another 4,250-miles round-trip. And finally it was from ‘TYO’ that Stirling won the 1958 Moroccan GP to confirm Vanwall as the first-ever FIA Formula 1 Constructors’ World Champion.
Derek Wootton summed-up ‘TYO’ like this: It feels as light as almost any private car at…40mph. The steering is easy…The brakes are fantastic…The ride is very good…The cab has excellent visibility…. The gear change is just as fast as you can move the lever and the …fluid flywheel makes life very easy… The Royal Tiger is really like a large toy to drive, and is truly a fantastic commercial vehicle.”
This piece of living history was acquired by the present vendor direct from Vandervell Products in 1982. In its heyday it carried eight racing mechanics and Andy English of The Daily Telegraph recently wrote how one can “Half close your eyes and they are almost still there, cor-blimeying their way up in the morning, bending the home-made demisting ducts, fiddling with the extra heater and plugging their kettle into the dashboard socket. This old Tiger has seen better days, but it is only down, not out… The engine hunts as softly as it did the day it first went into service…engage first the engine tugs at the leash. A little bit of throttle and it is smoothly off…”
Offered with sundry articles, correspondence and V5 registration document showing a taxation class of Private/Light Goods and therefore not required to run with a tachometer. Here we are delighted to offer literally tons of hands-on motor sporting history for your bidding. You know it makes sense…
Estimate £10,000 – 20,000