Made in Leeds - The rise and fall of the Scootacar

It was the Leeds made miniature mechanical marvel which promised to be the wheel deal.

Monday, 16th November 2020, 8:42 am
Do you remember the Scootacar? PIC: Leeds Libraries, www.leodis.net
Do you remember the Scootacar? PIC: Leeds Libraries, www.leodis.net

The Scootacar was developed in 1957 and aimed to deliver big car comfort at small car cost on three wheels. It was designed and constructed by the Hunslet Engine Works on Jack Lane. The unusual design was said to be inspired by the wife of one of the company directors, who wanted a car that was easier to park than her Jaguar. The company’s top minds started working on a design for an easy-to-park car with a high enough driving position to give the driver a good view of the road. They asked a tall employee to sit on a box against a handy wall, set up dummy controls in front of him, and drew a chalk outline around him. The result was a small but high car, nicknamed the telephone booth, with a sale price of around £275. These photos tell the story of its rise and fall in the mid-1960s. READ MORE: 31 photos to take you back to Leeds in 1964 LOVE LEEDS? LOVE NOSTALGIA? Join Leeds Retro on facebook

There were three Scootacar designs, MK I, II, and III.
It was powered by petroil with a recommended ratio of 20-1; and boasted Lockheed hydraulic foot brakes on the front wheels and a cable-operated hand brake on the rear wheel.

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Its fuel tank held 2.75 gallons, which included a half gallon reserve tank.
The bodywork was glass fibre and the the interior was upholstered in vynide. The engine was concealed under the driver's seat.
The Scootacar was available in many colours - red with grey interior trim; larkspur blue with blue trim or ivory with light brown trim.
There were optional extras - you could have one with a reverse gear for an extra £9 13s 4d (£7 19s 5d plus £1 13s 11d purchase tax) and for another £4 15s you could have a spare wheel and tyre complete with mounting.
The Scootacar had cramped conditions for its driver and passengers but it afforded more protection than a motorcycle and sidecar.
Approximately 1,500 cars were produced until production ceased in 1967.
The end for the Scootacar came with the introduction of the Mini. For very little more than the cost of a new Scootacar you could have a standard four-seater car in the Mini.
Did you own a Scootacar? Share your memories with Andrew Hutchinson via email at: [email protected] or tweet him - @AndyHutchYPN