Tuesday, April 08, 2014


WX179, the '29 TT Scott I found 10 years ago (and featured on TheVintagent.com in 2007), as photographed by the factory before the Isle of Man TT that year...
Ten years ago, while following up an ad for a c.1926 Sprint Sunbeam, I found the 'Beam had gone, but the vendor had the remains of a 1929 ex-Factory racing Scott TT machine, which still bore its original registration from the race - 'WX179'.  As one isn't offered the chance to buy a Vintage-era TT motorcycle very often, I jumped at the chance, and had the bike shipped to a Scott expert in, where else, Scotland.  That the bike was never restored and eventually sold on is another story, but I did a little research on Scott's racing efforts of the period; the Yorkshire factory made significant efforts to win the TT long after their initial victories back in 1912 / '13, when its water-cooled two-stroke twin-cylinder 2-speeders were about the most advanced racer on the track.  Scott's greatest weakness was cooling; even with a capacious radiator, the lack of a water pump meant sustained high speed work was tough on the 'deflector' piston engines, and in fact Scott was the one 'important' British factory which never captured a Gold Star for a 100mph lap at Brooklands.
The Real Deal; a completely original condition, ex-Factory TT Scott, as owned and ridden by Phil Vare, for sale at Bonhams Stafford, April 27th.  A few unique details of the '29 TT bikes; two oil tanks! One for the engine oil, another for the chains (the small tank seen above, behind the larger oil tank...road-going Scotts don't use a separate oil tank; normally they have an oil compartment in the fuel tank.  Note also the 8" diameter drum brake up front, and the girder/telescopic front forks, which were also used on the TT Replica models...
Still, a Vintage TT Scott is a remarkable machine, with peerless handling and an excellent turn of speed.  To find one in completely original condition, with only 3 owners from new (including the man who raced it at the TT, Phil Vare), is wholly remarkable.  Bonhams has this 1929 ex-Phil Vare factory TT Scott coming at for its April 27th Stafford auction, and I'll rely on their account to describe the machine itself:
Phil Vare rounding a hairpin on the Isle of Man TT course in 1929
"Yorkshire's Scott concern had a long and honourable history in both the Isle of Man TT races and on shorter circuits. Their TT participation started in 1909, in the era when two-strokes were held to have a power advantage over other machines, the ACU insisting that two-strokes were rated at 1.25 of a four-stroke's cylinder capacity and water-cooled ones - there was only the Scott - at 1.32! This rule was dropped in 1911 and in 1912 and 1913 Scott won, having, by 1914, made fastest lap in the first four 'mountain' races. 
Vare passing through town during the '29 TT
In 1929, Scott fielded six riders on completely re-worked racers with distinctive frames and running-gear and much more powerful engines. Owing to the late arrival of the machines, the Scott riders had to practise on earlier bikes or their own machines. P A E (Phil) Vare qualified on his own 1928 'TT Replica' Scott, with only brief rides on a Works machine before the race. All six started, but five went out, Vare being the last to go on the final lap. After a fall at Quarter Bridge damaged his twist grip he used the cut-out button when changing gear. This caused the holed piston that forced his retirement. Only Tommy Hatch finished, coming thirteenth in the race. 
The other side of the very special factory racing Scott; note 'TT side' oil filler with quick-action cap
What makes '7M' so unique a works Scott is that, after the race, Phil Vare negotiated a deal with the cash-strapped factory, in which his 'Replica' Scott was part-exchanged for the repaired '7M', which, when taken home to Norwich, was registered as VF 6543. Riding again for Scott in 1930, Vare rode the Senior TT on a spare '29 machine - retiring again with piston trouble - the supplied 'works' bikes being the 'vertical' Scott twins, described by him as 'un-rideable' 
Yes, a two-stroke with an oil pump!  Scotts don't use premix, but have a measured drip feed to the big ends.  Note drilled lower frame forging, and 'TT3' engine number
Phil Vare kept VF 6543 for some years, riding it at short-circuit events until selling it on when he was a Scott agent. Amazingly, it has had only three owners, the third, the vendor, acquiring it in the early '60s from the second owner Mr J F H Roberts (of Brentwood, Essex). Very commendably, and fully realising what a unique Scott he had, the vendor resisted the temptation to do a cosmetic restoration, restricting work to mechanical reconditioning, or the careful replacement of missing parts with period replacements, such as the '600' cylinder block now fitted ( a contemporary blind-head '500' block and pistons are amongst the spares offered with the lot). The engine has never run, nor has the machine been ridden in his ownership and thus re-commissioning will be required. 
The modified Velocette gearbox, as used by Scotts for years, here marked 'TT8'
Trophy winner at the 2012 Scott Abbotsholme Rally, and most emphatically not a racer 'reconstructed from parts' but an arguably unique, original and beautiful reminder of that pre-war era, VF 6543 comes with not only a V5 and old style continuation log-book but many papers relating to its history and copies of period photographs as well as detailed autographed letters from the late Phil Vare containing important details of this racer's - and Scott's - TT history."
A smiling Phil Vare in what look like Lewis Leathers racing kit, on his factory racing Scott.
I'm often asked what motorcycles are the most collectible, and I'd say this machine ticks almost all the boxes...except it isn't a big V-twin.  It will take a little more imagination to appreciate how truly exceptional it is to find an original-paint 1920s racer with full documentation and history from new; you simply can't do better.


William said...

The Scott article here is lovely and your Vtwin comment very telling..
These are known to a minor few it seems and escape everyone else.
They are however fabulous things and to see them in vintage races here in the UK where they are winners and front runners.. is a pleasure indeed.
Thanks for this

David Blasco said...

Great article and an admirable machine except I just don't like its looks. Any motorcycle with a radiator is going to be a trick to style but no Scot ever looks "right" to my admittedly uneducated eyes. I DO like the tiny bun cushion on the rear fender! The rider isn't using it in either photo, but I think it's clever looking.

Truckers Logic said...

Excellent Article my friend, Thanks for the post and definitely worth revisiting.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I bought WX 179 from Paul d'Orleans about four years ago, and have been restoring it since. Having restored three of the 1928 Isle-of-Man Senior TT 'works' bikes, I thought it would be straightforward, but it has been the most difficult rebuild I have undertaken in 33 years of restoring Scotts ! I'm very nearly there, and hope to have it at the Scott Rally at Abbotsholme, Staffordshire, in August 2014.
Brian Marshall