Scott Three: A Vintage Triple Threat

Alan Cathcart rides the 1936 Scott three, a 986cc liquid-cooled 2-stroke inline triple.

  • With 48 horsepower and a weight of just 489 pounds, the Scott Three would have been a powerful grand tourer in its day.
    Photo by Kyoichi Nakamura

1936 Scott Three
Claimed power: 48hp @ 5,200rpm
Engine: 986cc liquid-cooled 2-stroke inline triple, 73mm x 78mm bore and stroke, 5.8:1 compression ratio
Top speed: 85mph (claimed)
Weight (wet): 489lb (222kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 2.5gal (9.5ltr)/40-50mpg (est.)
Price then: £115 (approx. $570 U.S.)

In the Thirties, British engineers were among the most ingenious and free-thinking in the world, producing an array of innovative, imaginative engine designs — none more so than Alfred Angas Scott, founder of the Scott Motor Cycle Company.

A prolific inventor and the first serious proponent of the performance 2-stroke, Scott was a key figure in the evolution of the motorcycle as we know it today. He had more than 60 patents to his name, dreaming up the kickstarter, the triangulated frame, the foot gear change, rotary-valve induction, telescopic forks and more.

His experiments with 2-stroke engine designs began in the late 1890s, and the first complete Scott motorcycle followed in 1908, with production of customer bikes briefly commencing at the Jowett car factory in Bradford, Yorkshire, before Scott founded his own manufacturing operation nearby in 1909.

A water-cooled 2-cylinder engine, 2-speed gearbox and chain final drive made the Scott stand out as an advanced design. Scott demonstrated the worth of his products by racing them, but they had such strong acceleration compared to their heavier 4-stroke rivals that, from 1909 to 1912, they were deemed “overly efficient” by the Isle of Man TT organizers, who imposed a performance handicap by multiplying their engine capacity by 1.32 for competition use. Scotts set the fastest laps in the first four Senior TTs held on the full 37.75-mile Mountain Course from 1911 to 1914, and rotary-valve Scott racers won the race in 1912 and 1913 — that first year in spite of the equivalency formula, which was then scrapped. MC

To find out how the Scott Three inspired other innovations, read Scott Three Inspired Car Designs.

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