In the 1920s the railway companies needed a vehicle for town delivery traffic, which was at the time still largely horse drawn. The London Midland & Scottish Railway experimented and in late 1930 announced, with Karrier Motors the Karrier Cob, powered by a twin cylinder Jowett engine and with a mechanism to couple to existing horse trailers. Meanwhile the London & North Eastern Railway had approached Napiers', the car makers, for an answer to the same problem. They had ideas but did not wish to develop them and sold the project to Scammell. Their designer, O. D. North developed the three wheel tractor which automatically coupled and uncoupled trailers and in 1934 announced the "Mechanical Horse".

   With its 'square' wooden cab it remained unchanged until 1940s when it was redesigned creating the Scarab. This featured the automatic coupling but now used the Scammell 2,090cc side-valve engine in 3 and 6 ton versions and a Perkins diesel engine version was introduced. The cab was rounded and made from steel and the engine mounted lower improving stability. The railways continued as primary customer, although there were others, the manoeuvrability making it very popular for companies that had to contend with narrow streets in old towns and cities.

   The ability to automatically couple, or uncouple, from its trailers, was not the only unique feature on the vehicle. Another was that its single front wheel could turn through 360 degrees producing a highly manoeuvrable vehicle. Largely unchanged until the late 1940’s the tractor section was then redesigned for the Scarab, one new development was the introduction of a Perkins diesel engine option. The Scarab’s steel cab was rounder and with the engine now being mounted lower in the chassis the Scarab was much more stable. Its name derived from the rounded bonnet that resembled the wing covers of a Scarab Beetle. The Scarab 3-wheeled tractor unit was produced by Scammell between 1948 and 1967. 

   Production ceased in 1967 replaced the Scarab being replaced by the Townsman that featured a fibreglass cab, vacuum-assisted hydraulic brakes and automatic coupling now vacuum operated instead of the hand lever as in earlier models. Mainly only sold to British Rail and Royal Mail production ended in 1968.

   The Scammell or "FAR" was made under licence in France by Chenard-Walker with the Citroen Traction Avant engine. Production began in 1937 known as the Pony Mécanique. This continued until 1970. 

   A four wheel version was produced but problems with the cooling system meant only 200 produced, the majority exported to South Africa.

                                                                     1/72nd scale kit.

                                                                         Built by Rod.

   Built in the 1960s and one of the earlier models of the collection it was made from an Airfix kit now long out of production.

   Bear in mind it is a tiny vehicle, and in 1/72nd scale, so the real model is about 2cm tall and about 6cm long, much smaller than this picture.          

  The trailer looks like it has been nicely worn and weathered. Brush painted with enamel paints The black lines on the cab are not up to modern standards, but then again today we would use decal lining for the job.          


1948-67 Scammell Scarab van.
   Rod built the second version of this kit in 2020 before the world went into lockdown for the Covid19 Pandemic. This time he did two trailers with different loads. The kit is much the same as the original kit and he finished in the same way, with enamel paints and a brush.