This year at our Goodwood Revival Meeting we are featuring Ecurie Ecosse and its wonderfully well-run series of ‘Flag Metallic Blue’-liveried cars, from Jaguar XK120 to D-Type, from Cooper-Bristol and Connaught to the Group C years – there is so much to recall… and absolutely not least, of course, the Edinburgh-based team’s two great Le Mans victories with the Jaguar D-Types in 1956-57.
One of the more unusual car models campaigned by Ecosse was, of course, the later rear-engined Tojeiro Coupe originally constructed by the Barkway, Royston, manufacturer for the team to tackled the 1962 Le Mans 24-Hour race. Those cars had multi-tubular space frame chassis, a rear-mounted initially Coventry Climax 4-cylinder FPF engine and curiously long-nosed bodies designed by the artist Cavendish Morton. Cavvy lived on the Isle of Wight and had already styled competition car bodies for Brian Lister, while also penning the special-bodied AC for Le Mans in 1958.
These Ecosse cars became the first British mid-engined GT coupés, pre-dating the Lola GT which we accept as being the actual tap-root of the subsequent Ford GT/GT40 programme, as it developed during 1963. While the Lola featured an American Ford V8 engine in its rear bay, the Ecosse ‘Toj’ Coupe would be re-engined by the team in search of more power. Its original Climax engine was first replaced by a lightweight 3.5-litre Buick V8, and then by a Shelby Cobra Ford unit through 1963-64. But the cars never matched the performance, nor the glamour, of the Lola GT.
Now when American mechanic/engineer/driver Allen Grant brought his amazingly unspoiled Lola-Ford GT to the recent Festival of Speed, he most generously left me with copies of a most fascinating Ford Motor Company internal report. It was compiled by British-born Ford Detroit senior engineer Roy Lunn and is entitled ‘GT and Sport Car Project Advanced Program – Issue II’. Within its 80-odd pages it traces the story of Lola-Ford GT/Ford GT initial development through the latter half of 1963.