The Tojeiro Climax Mk. II

Many people interested in cars might not have heard of John Tojeiro, but most people interested in cars know of his work.  John Tojeiro was an automotive designer and racer who in the early 1950s designed the AC Ace which later was selected by Carroll Shelby as the car that he put a Ford V8 in to create the famous Cobra.  Later in the 1950s he was asked to design a sports class race car for a couple of English racers.  The result was the Tojeiro Climax Mk. II.

Tojeiro Climax 1958 (7)

Tojeiro Climax Mk. II

As can be seen by photo above, I saw a Tojeiro Climax Mk. II at the Lime Rock Historic Festival last year.  As can be seen the car is a lovely design – certainly it is a classic 1950s sports car design.

Tojeiro Climax 1958 (5)

Tojeiro was primarily an expert in chassis engineering.  He built a number of successful racing cars with the Ecurie Ecosse team, using engines supplied by Jaguar, Buick,  Bristol, and Climax.  Ecurie Ecosse, which is French for “Team Scotland”, was a well-known racing team from Scotland. The Ecurie Ecosse team was founded in November 1951 by Edinburgh businessman and racing driver David Murray and mechanic Wilkie Wilkinson.  Ecurie Ecosse won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1956 and 1957.  Ecurie Ecosse’s cars were always distinctive in their Flag Blue Metallic paint.

Tojeiro Climax 1958 (3)

The Tojeiro Climax Mk. II Has A Look Like A D-Type Jaguar

Despite being a chassis specialist Tojeiro formed the aluminum body into a very smooth design.  This is especially noticeable when viewing the car from the rear.

Tojeiro Climax 1958 (1)

The Climax engine in the Tojeiro had a very humble beginning.  It was a 38 hp 1020 cc straight-4 single overhead camshaft engine was designed as the motive unit for a portable service fire pump. This engine was known for its lightness, with a bare weight of 180 pounds.  As the engine was designed as a fire engine component which had to have the ability to be quickly placed in service, one unique requirement the Climax engine was the ability to be run at nearly full throttle without a full warm-up. This required careful attention to lubrication and thermal expansion rates of its parts, which translated into the engines legendary durability in rough racing environments.  Another feature of this engine was that the intake and exhaust valves were tilted to the same side of the engine where intake and exhaust ports are located.  The intake and exhaust ports were located fore and aft of the cylinder bore center, this arrangement allowed intake and exhaust flows to swirl in the same rotational direction in the combustion chamber thus improving the breathing and scavenging of the exhaust flow of the engine.

In 1953 it was adapted for automotive racing as a 1098cc retaining the cast crank 3 main bearing construction of the original engine, but with distributor ignition in place of magneto, an improved camshaft and a higher 9.8:1 compression ratio. With a bore of 2.85 inches and a stroke of 2.625 inches the engine initially produced 71 horsepower.

Tojeiro 1100cc Climax Engine 1958

The 1100cc Coventry Climax Engine

The plain interior of the Tojeiro reflects its racing car design intent.

Tojeiro Climax 1958 (4)

Space For At Least Two People Were Required For The Sports Car Class

This car was raced in 18 races in 1959, completing 16 races with 4 firsts, 2 seconds, 3 thirds, and never finishing lower than 6th when running.  Tojeiro hoped that this car would go into production, but that never happened.  Too bad.

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5 Responses to The Tojeiro Climax Mk. II

  1. CJ Madson says:

    Beautiful race car and a great overview of the designer/maker, engine and history. Thanks for your coverage.

  2. Wayne Carini (‘Chasing Classic Cars’ 2012) mentioned that some 4 Tojeiro-Climax cars were built and his 1958 (Aston green) sports racer was the only one left.
    Would the other 3 cars have been lost in track accidents, etc?

    • Hi Peter,
      These cars were built mainly to be racers. In that era. in many cases, old race cars were not particularly valued. I recall reading that even race worn Ferrari GTOs could be picked up for little money at one time. So it is not inconceivable that these cars were damaged to the extent that repairing them did not make sense at that time. It is also possible that one of these cars has disappeared and remains to be found. If Wayne Carini thinks that there is only one left, then I tend to think that he is right.
      Steve McKelvie

  3. Jonathan Hyslop says:

    Very informative article especially on the Climax engine. I am lucky to have two of these engines. One is as standard and in a portable fire pump, and the other is a tuned engine with twin SUs in an albatross Continental speedboat
    Jonathan Hyslop

  4. Clive Wilson says:

    A great friend of mine, David Lee who was a great Tojeiro fan having owned several, died last year. His widow has asked me to help her sell the car and before we do I am trying to identify it. He bought it in 1977 and hill climbed it in the U.K. for a few years. It then lazed around in his barn until he rebuilt it in 2004. To help me, please could you send me some photos of your car without her clothes, together with the length of her wheelbase. Richard Utley and Tony Steele are helping. Do you know the original U.K. registration number and the chassis number if so please send me them.
    I am told 5 were built two of which are in USA.
    I look forward to hearing from you.

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