8 holiday haulers you’d want for your sleigh
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and by that I mean it’s time for new car parts to arrive in the mail. You’ve jotted down your wish list, and sent it off, hoping that Santa’s little elves will soon arrive in a parcel truck, bearing gifts.
But what if you wished bigger? What if, for instance, you asked Santa for a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, or a Plymouth Barracuda, or a race-prepped Datsun 510? There ain’t gonna be room on the sleigh for all that iron, kid.
Not to worry, we’ve got a solution. Here, just for fun, are eight ways ol’ Kris Kringle might deliver the car of your dreams.
1955 Mercedes-Benz Ulenhaut “Blue Wonder”
In its day, this sleek blue machine was the fastest truck in the world. Built to carry the silver arrows of the Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 racing team, it featured streamlined styling, an extremely cab-forward design, and the heart of a Gullwing.
The idea behind the Blue Wonder came from Mercedes team manager Alfred Neubauer. Engineering was done by Rudi Uhlenhaut, the Anglo-German engineer behind the 300SLR coupe that gave the 300SL Gullwing coupe its iconic doors. Uhlenhaut took a 300S frame and lengthened it, tucking the 220-horsepower 3.0-liter straight-six out of a 300SL behind the cab. Wheels were 15 inches, with drum brakes at all four corners and a four-speed manual gearbox.
Capable of a top speed of roughly 105 mph, and much narrower than a conventional transport truck, the Blue Wonder was capable of sprinting from the Mercedes factory to any of Europe’s famous racing circuits. It brought cars to the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss. Imagine what it could leave in your driveway.
1960 Ecurie Ecosse Commer Transport
Much less fleet-of-foot, but nonetheless revolutionary, the dark blue Ecurie Ecosse transporter is one of the most immediately recognized racing haulers ever to be built. It took its underpinnings from a Rootes Group Commer bus chassis, with a compact three-cylinder diesel engine displacing 3.2 liters.
The bodywork, including the swept-up fins at the rear, was the brainchild of Selby Howgate. Howgate was something of a giant in the Scottish motor racing world, and was known to bound about the roads in his very quick 4.5-liter Bentley while clad head to foot in heavy tweed. A trained aviation aerodynamicist, his vision was for a practical, eye-catching transport that was as slippery in air as a fish. If you squint, it does sort of look like a mahi-mahi.
Like a gentleman of noble birth, the Ecosse Commer took its time getting places, but arrived in style. It was capable of carrying three cars, and would often arrive in racing paddock to disgorge a brace of Jaguar D-Types. Smashing.
1956 Fiat Bartoletti Transport
Commissioned by Maserati’s Formula 1 team, this Fiat transport truck carried Fangio’s Grand Prix winning car in 1957. However, it’s Bartoletti’s second life that’s more fascinating, including movie star fame.
Purchased by Lance Reventlow’s Scarab racing team, the big Fiat later found itself sold to none other than Carroll Shelby, in 1962. Shelby used it to transport the Cobra Daytona coupes to Le Mans, adding a third axle to the rear of the Fiat to help handle the weight.
Afterwards, the Bartoletti was ready for its closeup. It played three roles in the Steve McQueen film Le Mans, acting as the team transport for Porsche, Ferrari, and Renault/Mirage, being repainted to suit whichever team it represented. The Fiat ferried everything from Gulf-liveried Porsche 917s to Shelby Daytonas and Ford GT40s over its long career. What vintage racing machine might you ask it to leave under the tree?
1964 VW “Bulli” Porsche racing transport
Formula V was a racing series that featured spec racers built from Volkswagen parts. The cars were little cigar-shaped racers with 40-hp, 1200-cc VW engines, and they could just about hit a top speed of 100 mph. They were ideal junior race machines for up and coming racing drivers, and Porsche decided to get in on the action.
In order to transport their factory-backed effort around, Porsche bought six Volkswagen “Bulli” flatbed pickups. The VWs were slightly modified to fit one of the Formula V cars easily.
For any Volkswagen enthusiast in the crowd, one of these Bulli/V-racer pairings is a match made in heaven. Just drop the keys to both down the chimney, Santa.
1965 BRE Hino Transporter “Team Samurai”
If you’re into vintage Japanese racers, there’s really only one transporter that’ll do: a 1965 Hino KM in Peter Brock’s red, white, and blue BRE racing livery. This isn’t just a transporter, it’s a part of racing history, and a participant in one of the great automotive grudge matches.
Hino is now only a truck manufacturer, but they built cars in the 1960s, before being absorbed by Toyota. BRE-prepped Hino Contessas won races, and Brock even built a Hino-based GT racing car called the Hino Samurai. It remains one of the prettiest racing machines ever made, and is currently hidden away in a garage in California, just waiting to see daylight again.
Back to the Hino. This transporter carried all BRE’s early cars, and the later BRE Datsuns that followed. Powered by a Cadillac V-8 swapped in by hot-rodding legend Max Balchowsky, the Hino was often dispatched to SCCA races where Shelby’s Toyota 2000GT team was running. Though they did not run in the same class, the Datsuns made it their mission to trip up the Toyotas. The eventual result? A Porsche team won the championship.
Such behavior might have landed Brock on Santa’s naughty list, but there’s no denying that BRE’s partnership with Datsun changed the way Americans saw Japanese imports. Maybe this Hino will drop off a gleaming 240Z, or an original hakosuka Skyline GT-R.
1967 Dodge D700 Transports “Snake & Mongoose”
Speaking of grudge matches, here’s a pair of tow rigs that will be instantly familiar to anyone who owned their 1970s scale-model likenesses. Both of these big Dodges carried the banner of Hot Wheels, and the Barracuda and Duster funny cars of drag racing legends Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen.
Perhaps no drag-racing rivalry is as famous as that of “The Snake” Prudhomme versus “Mongoose” McEwen. Sure, there was more than a little showmanship behind the scenes—the pair were actually good friends. Still, when these two Dodges pulled in at the local dragstrip, everyone knew there was going to be some great racing.
What better way to see some Mopar muscle arrive at your front door than on the back of one of these rigs? And heck, there’s two of them, so why not double down and then go re-enact the Snake vs. Mongoose battle at your local dragstrip’s run-what-you-brung event.
1976 Mk 1 Ford Transit Van—Joe Dunlop and Rea Racing
One for the motorcyclists in the crowd, this vintage Euro-Ford van isn’t just a racing transport, but genuinely the closest thing to a Santa Claus sleigh on the list. It’s the workaday Transit Mk 1 that carried Isle of Man TT legend Joey Dunlop’s racing bikes, painted in the red and white of Rea Racing, a Belfast-based haulage firm that was Dunlop’s first sponsor.
This van was a backdrop for The Road Racers, a documentary about the madness, joy, and heartbreak of motorcycle road racing. The shy, soft-spoken Dunlop came alive on a motorcycle, one of the most fearless and talented riders to have ever swung a leg over a saddle.
And his name was also well-known if you were an orphan in eastern Europe. During the off-season, Dunlop was well-known to stuff his transporter with toys and supplies, and make the long drive east to Romania, Albania, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. If Santa Claus could thread a motorcycle between stone walls at 140 mph, then that’s basically Northern Ireland’s Joey Dunlop. Maybe Santy’ll bring you a wee bike.
1976 Bonneville Boss and “Proud American”
Let’s finish up with another cab-forward design, this one a dream that never quite became reality. “Proud American” is a land speed rocket car built to break the sound barrier for the 1976 American Bicentennial. It never turned a wheel.
However, what did turn a wheel—10 of them, in fact—was the 1976 Bonneville Boss transporter built by Dean Moon, of Mooneyes fame. Running off an Oldsmobile Toronado drivetrain, the Boss features four front-driven wheels that also turn, and six axles out back. All together, the car and transport look like some kind of patriotic 1970s-style ICBM launcher.
There is no car the Boss couldn’t haul to your house. In the Hagerty Forums below, let your imagination run wild.