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Lester keen to fill in missing history of converted transporter

What tales a 1964 Leyland Leopard coach, which has been converted into a racing car transporter, could tell if it had a voice?

The vintage transporter now belongs to car and commercial vehicle enthusiast Lester Smout of Walcot, near High Ercall, who is busy researching its history.

He already knows that the coach started life with Cotters of Glasgow who organised tours across Europe. It was then purchased for £1,500 by David and Tim Llewellyn, known as the “Bentley Boys”, in 1977 who transported expensive racing cars to events across the UK and Europe. 

The 35-foot transporter was then bought by successful motor racer Martin Stretton, who used it to take his valuable cars to race meetings.

A group of model enthusiasts from Kidderminster were the next owners, using the vehicle to transport model displays around shows. When a friend heard that they were thinking of selling the transporter, he quickly alerted Lester who snapped it up.

The retired builder has since spent eight years and around £15,000 restoring the transporter to its former glory and has converted it to accommodate two people when necessary.

He recently transported a Mark 1 Ford Escort to Loton Park Hill Climb for a friend to race and last week attended the Shelsey Walsh Nostaligia Event near Worcester. Hopefully other events will follow.

He now hopes to fill in the missing pieces in vehicle’s history jigsaw and would love to display the transporter at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show at the NEC, Birmingham from November 9-11.

“You still see a lot of racing cars from years ago, but hardly any transporters,” he said. “I love the vehicle and want it to be out there on display. It’s a bit of beast with no power steering and you have to double clutch to change gear.

“I know that it has been to the Nurburgring in Germany, Montlhéry in France and Spa in Belgium but other parts of its history are missing.” 

He’s talking to Shrewsbury-based Morris Lubricants, one of Europe’s leading oil blenders and marketers, about potential marketing opportunities as the company’s brand is prominent on the transporter, as it was in the past.

The vehicle’s 11-litre diesel engine runs on Morris Lubricants’ popular Golden Film SAE30 classic motor oil. Golden Film Classic Oils are recommended for use in veteran, classic and vintage cars, motorcycles, commercial vehicles and tractors, where engine design and tolerances prohibit the use of modern multigrade, high additive level oils. 

Between them, Lester and his racing friend, Glen Burgess, own a Lotus Cortina, a Lotus Elan, Mini Cooper S and a Lotus 11 replica and they all run on Morris Lubricants’ quality oils.

“Everybody says Morris Oils are the best you can get, so we always use it in our classic cars,” he said. “Even the Transport Museum, Wythall advised us to use Morris classic oil in the transporter.”

Gina Hinde, Morris Lubricants’ marketing manager, said she met Lester at the 2018 Autosport event at the NEC as he uses Morris oil in his vintage vehicles. “He totally amazed me by producing photographs and telling me all about the history of his Leyland Leopard coach,” she added.

“He is a true enthusiast and I am hoping that we can work together over the next few years. Watch this space.”

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