1960 Scootacar Mk1
The 1950’s and 1960’s were ‘great times’ for the automotive industry. In America the automobile and rock ‘n’ roll helped shape the culture of a nation. In England and Europe sports and GT cars were an intrinsic fabric of society. However, it wasn’t always about American cars with thumping V8’s or sleek European GT cars. There was a great variety of cars available and another niche market evolved – micro cars. Most people are familiar with micro cars like the Messerschmitt KR200 and the BMW Isetta, however, there were many other companies who built them. One of the more interesting micro cars was built by the Hunslet Engine Company Ltd, based in Hunslet, an inner-city area in south Leeds, United Kingdom. This company dates back to 1864 and their core business was manufacturing locomotives. Hunslet was not the type of company one would associate with the production of a microcar!
The back story is a good one. The wife of one of the directors of Hunslet was complaining to her husband about having problems parking her Jaguar in the city. This led to the company exploring options to start the production of a small car which could easily be used in the narrow streets found in most cities in the UK. They got in touch with a designer by the name of Harry Brown, who had previously designed the Rodley 750 (built from 1954 till 1956). Unfortunately, the Jap engined Rodley wasn’t a great success. It had a reputation for overheating to the extent of catching fire!
A new company was formed, Scootacars Ltd, and Brown was given some specific parameters for the new car. It needed to have a high seating position, good visibility and of course be easy to park! The design team went to work and typical for a period where there wasn’t a lot of money available for development, they used some very basic methods to come up with their initial design. So the story goes, one of the engineers sat on a wooden box up against a wall holding handlebars from a bicycle in his hand at a comfortable height whilst one of his colleagues used chalk to outline the template on the wall. That wooden box turned into the seat which would house the engine. A 197cc two-stroke Villers 9E engine was chosen to power the car which was mated to a four-speed motorcycle-type gearbox. A chain transferred the power to the single rear wheel. The engine produced around 8hp and gave the car a top speed of approximately 80km/h.
Inside the cabin there was enough room for two people who sit behind each other, just like on a scooter! In reality the design is simplistically brilliant. The Scootacar is essentially a scooter with a body on it! Most of the Scootacars sold were painted red, just like the telephone booths which you’d find on every street corner in the UK in those days. Because of its dimensions and the abundance of windows, the Scootacar was quickly nicknamed ‘the telephone booth’.
The first Scootacars, later called the Mk 1, left the factory in 1957. In 1960 the De Luxe or Mk 2 was introduced which had a totally redesigned body and room for three people. In 1961 the De Luxe Twin model appear which was fitted with a Villers 324cc engine, which gave it a top speed of just over 100km/h.
Production stopped in 1964 after around 1000 examples where produced, comprising approximately 750 Mk1, 200 Mk2 and only 20 Mk3 with the larger engine.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to confirm the sale of a rare 1960 Scootacar Mk1.
- Single Door
- 13,124 miles