Historic Truck Brands


Scammell was a wheel- and coach-building business in the 1890s, operated by George Scammell, the founder and some family members. By the early 1900s, the firm was also doing maintenance on Foden steam wagons. 

A family member, Lt Col Alfred Scammell, was injured during World War Two and was able to apply the practical experience he had gained in developing an articulated six wheeler. Percy Hugh, Scammell’s chief designer, presented the concept at the 1920 Commercial Motor Show and 50 orders were taken. The vehicle’s very low axle weight allowed it to carry 7.4 tons of payload legally at 12mph.

The success fo the articulated vehicle dictated new premises and a new company, Scammell Lorries Ltd in July 1922. The original company remained in business, refurbishing and bodybuilding until taken over in 1965 by York Trailer Co.

In 1929, Scammell designed and manufactured the ‘100 Tonner’ low loader –  a two-axle prime mover and four-wheeled trailer – for transporting steam engines. By then, Scammell had diversified into four- and six-wheel rigid designs. 

Another diversification was the Pioneer off-highway, heavy haulage tractor, first produced in 1927. It showed outstanding cross-country performance, due to its beam-bogie rear end, with 600mm of vertical movement for each of the rear wheels. The Pioneer proved popular with oil exploration and logging companies, and formed the basis of the World War Two R100 30-ton tank transporter.

In 1934, Scammell produced the three-wheeled ‘mechanical horse’ to replace horses in rail and postal delivery work, with a single front wheel that could be steered through 360 degrees. It was sold in three- and six-ton versions. The three-tonner was powered by a 1125cc side-valve petrol engine and the six-tonner by a 2043cc version. 

With the outbreak of the War, development of new vehicles stopped and production concentrated on military Pioneers for use as artillery tractors and recovery and transport vehicles.

In the late 1940s, the mechanical horse was superseded by the Scarab, with a 2090-cc, side-valve petrol engine or a Perkins diesel.

In 1955 Scammell became part of Leyland Motors, leading to replacement of on-highway Scammel trucks range with the Highwayman, bonneted 4×2; Routeman, forward control 8-wheeler and Handyman, forward control 4×2.

Both prime movers could be configured up to 50 tons and were complemented by a range of Scammell trailers.

Scammell contracted Giovanni Michelotti to design its cabs, resulting in a series of fibreglass, fluted-style designs. The Handyman initially used a glass-fibre cab designed by Scammell , but the Mark 2 and 3 versions had the Michelotti cab as used on the 2nd and 3rd versions of the Routeman.

Early versions were equipped with Scammell’s own ‘gate-change’ gearbox, but subsequent versions were fitted with AEC and David Brown gearboxes.

Engines included the Leyland 680, Gardner 150 and Rolls-Royce 220.

The Trunker was a three-axle version of the Handyman.

The 6×4 Contractor of 1964 was equipped with a Cummins NTC335 engine, Lipe clutch and Fuller semi-automatic gearbox. It was available with a choice of Leyland 24-ton or Scammell 30- and 40-ton tandem rear ends and proved popular in the UK and export markets for 240+ ton GCM operation, heavy haulage and military tank transportation.

In 1964, Scammell assembled 38 BUT RETB/1 trolley-buses for use in Wellington, New Zealand.

In 1967, the Scarab was replaced by the Townsman that also used a GRP cab. 

Scammell launched the three-axle 6×4 Crusader line-hauler at London’s 1968 Earl’s Court Commercial Vehicle Show. The powertrain was a 9.3-litre GM Detroit Diesel 8V71N two-stroke diesel engine, rated at 273hp, driving through a Fuller RoadRanger 15-speed constant-mesh gear box, to an Albion hub-reduction drive tandem with lockable drive axles. Scammell used the same rear end on the 24-ton Routeman 8×4 tipper chassis, launched at the same Show.

Soon after, Scammell released a two-axle Crusader, powered initially by a Rolls-Royce Eagle 220hp or 280hp diesel. Scammell also developed a heavy haulage Samson that was a four-axle, 8×4 Crusader. 

In the late 1970s, the Contractor Mk2 was developed, together with the Scammell Commander tank transporter. The latter was powered by a Rolls-Royce CV12TCE 26-litre, dual-turbocharged 625hp intercooled V12 diesel engine, with semi-automatic gearbox and Scammell 40-ton bogie, and was plated at 100 ton+ GCM. 

The Australian Army units had 335hp Cummins engines and pneumocyclic gearboxes. Two trailer specifications were used: a 24-wheel float with 16-wheel dolly trailer for transporting the Australian Centurion tank, or US Patton tank in Vietnam and a 40-ton, 12-wheel Steco folding goose-neck trailer for engineering plant.

In the late 1970s, Leyland Group developed two new prime movers: the overseas-market, bonneted Landtrain and the UK- market, COE Roadtrain. Scammell was contracted to develop the Landtrain, which used the same cab and bonnet as the Commander replacement, the S24. Powered by a Cummins NTC350 or NTC400 engine, the S24 could be specified from 40 tonnes GVM to more than 200 tonnes GCM. Scammell also developed the eight-wheeled version of the Roadtrain, the Constructor8. This also allowed Scammell to develop the complementary S26 range of heavy-haul 4×2, 6×2 and 6×4 prime movers, which was a ‘parts-bin’ build from the Roadtrain and S24 components.

In 1986, Scammell tendered for the British Army hook-lift order, using the newly developed 8×6 variant of the S24. However, shortly after winning the contract to supply 1522 vehicles, Leyland Group was bought by DAF,  who elected to build the trucks at the Leyland plant and to close the Scammell factory.

Stay informed and receive our updates

From Jim Gibson & Allan Whiting directly to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!