November 2021 saw an online auction of some classic and historically significant, heavy haulage metal.

The late Roger Austin was a dedicated collector and conservator of Scammel lorries and fairground attractions. Roger passed on in 2005. Its only now his family have decided to put his collection up for sale. Auction house, Cheffins conducted the first part of a two part auction of his collection in Raunds, Northamptonshire, and it featured some rare and very special machines with a dash of Hollywood thrown in.


The star of the sale was a 1946 Scammel Showtrac. One of eighteen built for the fairground/showman trade it is fitted with a Mawdelsey generator used to power fairground rides. Retired in 1974 the Scammel rested in a showmans yard until Roger bought it and completely restored it back to original condition as first purchased by Flannagan’s Amusements of Watford. Bidding on day one of the sale had this at £55000.It eventually sold for £156.250. The new owner has six percent commission to add to that.


Next up, a 1929 4×2 chain drive Ballast Tractor, King Bobby. It started life as a Shellmex tanker. In 1937 it was returned to Scammel where it was rebodied to become the first ever Showmans tractor unit to be fitted with a generator. Up until this point Fairground amusements relied on traction engines to provide the power for the rides. This Scammel went on to find a third life, rebodied again to work as a timber tractor after which, presumably thoroughly knackered, it was left abandoned until it was rescued by a Scammel enthusiast and restored as a heavy haulage wagon. It sold for £19,250.


A range of Scammel Highway ’men’ were up for sale, dating from 1931 to 1962. Most were in dire need of serious restoration. Some were just good for parts. The pick of the bunch was a 1938 model complete with tandem axle tanker trailer. Manchester firm WH Cowburn and Cowpar, of Trafford Park, originally purchased this Scammel Highwayman keeping it on the fleet for over 30 years. It hauled industrial heavy acid, racking up over a million miles. Retired in 1972 it was sold for scrap and, rescued by another enthusiast who spent fifteen years restoring it. It went on to feature in a Ford Motor company Ad playing the part of a “sinister” threatening truck – in a shameless rip off of Spielberg’s breakout film, Duel. It fetched £24,500


Aside from Scammels in the auction, you could find a 1930s BSA 10hp saloon car in need of total restoration, a complete fairground ride consisting of a loco and carriages, and in one corner of the yard, a BMC Leyland drop side lorry purportedly once owned by Pat ‘Bomber’ Roach, wrestler and UK TV actor. If proven, this provides a second bizarre Spielberg link – Pat played the bald, bare chested Nazi scrapping with Harrison Ford, and losing to an aeroplane propeller, in Raiders of the Lost Ark.


Scammel lorries were once a part of the scenery on Britain’s roads. These veteran models, served for decades and attract the same kind of dedicated enthusiasts that preserve our steam heritage. I can appreciate the attraction- motorised shirehorses for the 20th century, Scammels were big dependable bruisers that got the job done .If I possessed the means, and a large enough yard, I would’ve been tempted to put in a bid. Towing a race car behind a classic wins points for style, but rumbling into cars and coffee with a traction engine pulled behind your vintage Scammel, now that’s a show stopper.

Images courtesy of Cheffins

catalogue here https://machinerysales.cheffins.co.uk/auctions/info/id/1207/roger-austin-timed-online-auction-sale-of-vintage-scammel-lorries-and-trailers_816.htm

About The Author

Steve Swanson

Steve turns any opportunity to write about cars into a roadtrip. It's seen him ride shotgun in a Bentley Blower with Clive Cussler, and cross paths with automotive YouTubers in Canada and the US. His work has been published in Magneto, Classic Cars, Classic American and some magazines that no MotorPunk reader has ever heard of. When he's not writing or driving you can find him kicking tyres at seedy auctions and hawking junk optimistically described as Automobilia

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