1959 BMC Technical Support Vehicle
Year of manufacture1959
Number of seats2
The ex-BMC Competitions Department
1959 BMC 5-Ton Race Transporter
Coachwork by Marshall's of Cambridge
Registration no. 168 UXS
Chassis no. 5K1774-147447
Manufactured in October 1959, this BMC 5-ton PSV chassis was one of approximately 20 commissioned by the company's management to serve as mobile Service Schools, which travelled around the dealership network training mechanics in the procedures required to maintain the newly introduced, front-wheel-drive Mini. This example is one of the later models, which were slightly longer and consequently roomier inside. Designed by Pinin Farina and built by Marshall's of Cambridge with all-aluminium coachwork, they were equipped to a very high specification.
When this particular unit's training function ended, Basil Wales transferred it within the company to the Competitions Department where he worked. In its new role the vehicle was used to store and transport display boards with Special Tuning parts mounted on them, while also serving as a mobile stores and workshop on UK rallies carrying spares, welding equipment, a Hydrolastic pump, etc. After the Leyland merger with BMC, the 5-tonner was refinished in Unipart livery and used during 1975 as a race transporter by Leyland ST, which was running a team of Triumph Dolomite Sprints and a Morris Marina for promotional purposes.
The previous owner discovered the vehicle at a disused railway station at Rednal near Oswestry, Shropshire in the early 1990s, but four years would pass before he finally managed to persuade the then owner to part with it. Apparently, the owner used the vehicle as a weekend 'holiday home' when he got fed up with life in his hometown of Manchester! When found, the rear of the body had been removed: a modification believed to have been made by a former owner who had used the vehicle to transport his race/stock car.
For various reasons the restoration took nearly ten years and was not completed until 2005, during which time the previous owner contacted Basil Wales, formerly employed in BMC's Competitions Department. Basil was very helpful and soon discovered that this particular truck was his: the one used to sell Special Tuning parts and to support the works rallying programme. Originally registered 'BMC 43', it came with an 'H' registration when found.
In the course of rebuild the original BMC 5.7-litre engine and five-speed gearbox were replaced with a 6.0-litre Cummins 180 six-cylinder turbo diesel engine and its associated six-speed transmission, which had already done 80,000 miles installed in a truck. The standard two-speed rear axle has been retained and works as it should. We are advised that the cruising speed remains much as before, the conversion's principal benefits being much improved acceleration and driveability. A small kitchenette, shower room, toilet and hot water heater have been installed, making for a comfortable billet at motor sports events, while the provision of an easy-to-use hydraulic tail-lift further enhances the transporter's practicality. Photographs are available of the truck at various stages in its life including the restoration and conversion to transporter. The original engine and gearbox are included in the sale.
The current vendor purchased '168 UXS' at Bonhams' Goodwood Festival of Speed sale in July 2011 (Lot 465). Since then the vehicle has benefited from £14,000 spent on making it reliable and useable. The vendor has driven this vehicle to several race meetings with a trailer attached and reports that it goes very well even when towing, cruising comfortably at 60-65mph all day long. His Austin-Healey 3000 fits in with plenty of room to spare. The distance from the partition behind the rear passenger seats and the loading door is 20 feet, so with little modification the interior would take two Mini Coopers. The vendor has fitted a workbench with storage and a vice; an additional storage container for fuel and oils; and a new winch. All seven tyres are new.
Described by the vendor as in generally very good condition, this historic ex-works BMC 5-tonner is offered with a comprehensive history folder and V5C document. MoT and tax exempt, it will be driven to the sale. A transporter is the ultimate paddock accessory and this one is eminently suited to the role of Goodwood support vehicle.