As sleek and streamlined as the car it was designed to carry, the transporter also had the same advanced 3-liter, fuel-injected 6-cylinder engine as the 300 SL Gullwing sports car. That powertrain ensured that the Rennstransporter, or race transporter, would carry its load across Europe at factory-stated speeds of over 100 m.p.h., far faster than any standard truck of the mid-’50s.
Arriving at the Race in Style
A private collector who has heard the siren call of the racer’s truck is Don Orosco of Monterey, Calif. He is the owner of the transporter used by the Scarab Team in sports car and Formula One races in the United States and Europe.
The Scarab Team was a project of Lance Reventlow, the son of the Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. The team was his effort to field an all-American team at the top levels of international racing.
The Scarab transporter began life as a Fiat Series 306/2 Alpine bus chassis, ordered by the Maserati Formula One team and outfitted by Carrozzeria Bartoletti. After Maserati withdrew from racing in 1957, the transporter was bought by Reventlow to carry the Scarab grand prix cars for the 1960 racing season in Europe.
Later the truck was owned by Carroll Shelby, who used it to carry his Cobra Daytona Coupes across Europe. It also had a star turn in the 1971 Steve McQueen racing film, “Le Mans.”
The story of how Mr. Orosco came to own the truck is itself worthy of a movie plot. After its glory days, the truck was in the hands of a member of the American family that owned the U-Haul rental chain — and was caught in the crossfire of a family fight between two brothers, Mr. Orosco said.
For years, there had been rumors about the transporter’s whereabouts, but no one was able to find out exactly where it was or pry it loose from its stubborn owner. A conversation overheard at a vintage car event in England persuaded Mr. Orosco that he had to move quickly — and in a week he had bought it.
The difference was that previously, everyone who had gone after the transporter wanted it for the Shelby connection, a sore point between the brothers. Mr. Orosco, well known as a collector of Scarabs, only mentioned those cars, not Shelby or Cobras. He won his prize — a derelict sitting in the Arizona sun that needed a total restoration.
Restoring the transporter involved hunting down parts and fabricating hundreds of missing pieces. It was worth the effort, Mr. Orosco said: “The payoff was when the truck drove into the paddock at the Monterey Historic Races that year, with the two Formula One Scarabs on it. It was amazing.”
Equally fascinating are those trucks that provided support for the teams, from parts carriers to mobile service vans to hospitality centers.
A particularly characterful example is the British Motor Corporation Works Service Van owned by Wayne Carini, host of the “Chasing Classic Cars” show on the Discovery Channel.
It is one of a pair of such trucks that accompanied teams of Austin-Healeys and Mini Coopers to events across Europe and in the United States. Mr. Carini bought the truck at a collector car auction and has since made it the centerpiece of a traveling show of British racing cars. He envisions using it in a vintage event like the New England 1000 rally, following an Austin-Healey 3000 to provide repairs, parts and refreshments, just as in the old days.