The race cars had to get there somehow….
by Steve Erlichman
The history of 1/43 racing transporters part two dips into fairly recent releases. In case you missed part one, you can see it here. A photo gallery of transporter models can be found at the bottom of this page.
A truck named Cod Fish
A very obscure model brand from Spain, Modeltrans, produced the circa 1952 Pegaso Z401 Bacalao or “Cod Fish”. A highly styled 2-car enclosed truck were built to carry the racing Pegasos to LeMans and Mexico. The sleek transporter also went to record runs carrying the odd looking Bisurlo record car. While not offering the detail of a Brianza, the Z401 has quite a charm about it and its styling is as unique as the Lancia next to it in the photo above.
About the same SMTS started to release some transporters. They offered a few versions of the Bedford Lotus truck from starting with the 1969 Gold Leaf colors and all the way to the black JPS versions. Spark Minimax would later pick up on these in resin but without the opening features. The SMTS version even included some tools for dioramas. SMTS also did their own Ecurie Ecosse Commer with photoetched ramps.
A couple of lesser known 1/43rd SMTS transporters may be the most interesting. A Cooper Car Company Fordson van circa trailered Peter Collins’ F3 car in 1952-53. Also offered was a Team Lotus Ford 100E flatbed towing a 2-car double stack trailer, circa 1961-62. You have to supply the race cars for this one.
Alte Models from the former East Germany made a set using a Auto Union Bussing NAG truck carrying an Auto Union Avus streamliner on the ramp behind it.
Brooklin has even gotten into the act. They produced two special 3-piece sets. One was a Chevy Corvair Greenbriar van towing a trailer holding a Yenko Stinger DP racer. Then there was the Ford F1 van towing a Thunderbird “Battlebird” on a trailer as a Daytona Speedweeks themed set from the late 50s. These rigs are no light weight resin models being typical all-metal models.
Exoto does Ford and Fiat
Exoto got into 1/43rd transporters in a big way with a couple of different platforms. But not all were authentic. They produced a Ford C6 tilt cab based 3 car enclosed truck in the colors of Gelo Racing from Germany for both their Ferrari and Porsche racers. More Ford C6s appeared in James Garner’s American International Racing colors and for Maranello Concessionaires, Tyrrell, Ferrari and even Porsche. I think the only team that actually used the Ford C6 was Garner’s AIR. But the models are nice with lift gates and two levels inside.
Exoto’s best transporter effort is a 3-car Fiat Bartoletti that was originally built for Lance Reventlow’s Scarab team. Reventlow left it with the builder in Italy to sell when the program ended. Shelby American bought it to support the LeMans effort and left it with Alan Mann Racing in England. They sold it on to John Wolff who then sold it to David Piper. Exoto has done a couple of versions including the green Piper version and the red Ferrari version used in the movie LeMans. It was then sold onto JC Bamford for his historic team. The truck is now in the USA restored as the Scarab version.
Exoto did another Shelby truck, the open 2-car Ford C6 that replaced the Bartoletti. The Ford was used exclusively in the U.S. This truck appeared in both Guardsman and Viking Blue and Exoto has done both. It looks cool as hell with two Cobra Daytona Coupes on it.
German teams and their transporters
Probably the two most famous and widely known are well-modeled. I mentioned the FDS version of the Mercedes-Benz 0305 bus-based truck in the white Martini Porsche colors in part one of this story. Schuco has done just about every version of this truck, including a BMW version. Also white and silver Martini versions and the first Mercedes version in red from 1969. Schuco’s trucks feature opening rear doors with a lift ramp that can be suspended half way up. They are impressive models.
Schuco has also done a couple of earlier Porsche trucks, including the resin open 3-car MAN from the mid-60s. That preceded the Mercedes at Porsche and worked alongside of it for a couple of years. Schuco also did the Opel tractor trailer version from the same time period. Premium Classixxs (a Schuco brand) made an Opel Blitz van from Porsche’s F1 days in the early 60s. Of special interest is their Mercedes L3500 with a 2-car bed ithat holds two Spyder racers under car covers.
The fastest transporter
The fastest (and coolest) race car transporter was the 1955 Mercedes-Benz High Speed Transporter called the “Blue Wonder”. Mercedes-Benz’s brilliant chief engineer Rudi Uhlenhaut created the vehicle around the drivetrain from a 300SL Gullwing. This single car transporter could move a W196 or 300SLR from the factory in Stuttgart to anywhere in Europe within two days. The first model in 1/43rd was from Vroom as a resin kit with photoetched ramps and accessories. It was quite impressive when issued in the late 90s. Conrad did a decent diecast version soon after. but the best would come from CMC in 1/43rd scale.
British racer Mike Anthony was so inspired by the Benz rig that he utilized a Standard Vanguard saloon to convert it in a similar style to transport his Lotus 11. Even this has been modeled by RBA Collectables.
The current scene
Currently Spark and IXO are the main players in 1/43rd scale transporters. They’ve done multiple versions of the 1966 Leyland Olympic that started with the Tyrrell Matra International Team, moved on to Matra themselves and then to the Ligier Team. Same truck. Spark have done all of them, as well as the Cooper version.
Interesting story behind this truck. It was originally a bus as part of an order of 400 vehicles bound for Cuba by ship. The ship was hit in the London harbor by another freighter and partially sank. The bus was on the deck and was not damaged. Ken Tyrrell, always on the lookout for a bargain, swept in and bought it cheap and then had it converted to a transporter. Tyrell’s second truck was a 1969 Leyland Worldmaster that has been released by Spark. IXO did a Berliet Stradair Matra version used by the Matra F1 Team. It is very different looking and highly styled.
IXO have also discovered early F1 tractor trailers, kind of picking up where Eligor left off. They have also done a couple of Porsche trucks, for the Kremer Brothers’ team and the last Rothmans Porsche Team truck. IXO has also done JPS and Martini Lotus, Warsteiner Arrows and Martini Brabham versions so far. These feature diecast Volvo, MAN, Mercedes, etc. tractors like the Eligors with nicely printed graphics on plastic trailers. Sadly there are no opening parts but very reasonably priced.
The history of 1/43 racing transporters part two concludes
I hope we have whetted your appetite for racing transporters. Transporters are a wonderful way to tell a story behind the story your model collection tells. They have a large presence with their large size and provide a nice backdrop to team cars.
To learn more about the history of the more unique race car transporters, look for Around the Circuit or the very collectible and pricey Inside the Paddock: Racing transporters at work. Both were written by David Cross.