For he’s a jolly good Dellow
Hello Dellow :Introduction
Dellow was a specialist British car maker in the late 1940’s through the mid 1950’s.
They were a peer /competitor to Chapman and Lotus in the early part of Chapman’s career. Both marques shared and overlapped with the following trends and patterns of the immediate post war era.
- Trials; this British motor sport continued in a modified form after the war –see below
- Culture.; the hobby and interest were particularly British and participation was essentially amateur but also spawning innovation and improvisation
- Austerity; this is well known aspect of British post war society.[ see our dedicated articles ] cars were in short supply and the trials scene was possibly a way to use older cars that were damaged post war yet had potential for modification and use in this specialist sport activity
- Competition:750 Motor Club, this and local motor clubs were important for organisation, competition, camaraderie that encouraged participation and construction of specials suitable for the sport
The 1950’s completely changed the face of trials and replaced the V8’s.
It’s worth noting how interest in this sport and eventually was worthy of TV coverage [see our dedicated articles below].
Subscribers might like to see A&R complementary and structured pieces:-
- Lotus Trials cars
- Ford 1172 engine and Formula
- Location of British motorsport manufacturers etc
- Lotus Design decades: the 1950’s
- Chapman and Warren Street
- Land Rover
Brief Motor Trials history and culture
Motor trials were particularly British and slightly eccentric to some. Their origins are possibly rooted in: –
- British legislation discouraging road racing
- A desire to create events to test man and machine, a function of which was to generate positive publicity and assist sales etc
- Test driving skill and control
- An attraction for locations /events in rural sylvan settings
- The opportunity to participate in low cost sport that invited improvisation etc
The sport was seen as healthy in many respects.
During the interwar period larger V8 engined cars and specials dominated the sport [ see below] but this changed significantly in the immediate post war period. A number of manufacturers and individual specials emerged mainly using the 1772 cc Ford side vale engine and related mechanical components. Austerity, availability of parts, cost and suitable sites may have impacted on practicality and thus worked through regulations etc.
As noted trials were British and conducted through the Autumn and winter months. They required hardy types [often married or courting couples] .Driving technique required sensitivity and surface awareness / anticipation , planning and placement. Absolute power was secondary to weight distribution and delivery in order to maximise grip .Drivers balanced throttle , gear , grip , weight , brake and line to optimise route and navigate treacherous sinuous courses.
The sights and sounds of trials included that of bonfires and burning rubber in frostily leafless woods and quarries .Occasionally deep mud and fords needed to be crossed with much wheel spinning , mud storming on precipitous gradients .Roaming in the gloaming accompanied by gymnastics in the cockpit with judicious use of the fiddle.
Warm clothes, a hardy disposition, duffle coats, bobble hats and army surplus gear was the order of the day. Healthy, active, inexpensive, amateur with loads of camaraderie, an escape to the country developed active participation. [se internet for still and action photography] There was a waiting list for second hand cars.
Many famous motorsport /F1 drivers attempted trials including Moss, Hill and Chapman.
A certain stoicism was needed.!!
The type/marque of car used for trials included: –
- American V8 powered including Allard
- Ballamy [ see below]
- “Buttercup” 1949 Standard Triumph special
- Vauxhall based specials
Figure 1.Ballamy Special seen at Crystal Palace revival .V8 engine detail below .Editors photographs.
- Cannon c 1953 1966 about 100- 120 cars built? Mainly with Ford 1172 engine but some BMC A type
- Lotus-see below
- Dellow and Ausfod
From the net :-
“The Ausfod was an automobile manufactured by the Ausfod Motor Engineering Co Ltd in Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester from 1947 to 1948. It was one of the few trials specials which was offered for sale to the public. It used a Ford Model C Ten engine, Austin Seven chassis, LMB trials front axle, and a remote control gearbox.
An aerodynamic sports car was advertised along with the trials car, but it is not clear as to whether any were made.”
- Possible pre-war specials based on MG.Morgan,HRG , Singer ,Ford’s that were rebodied and perhaps given builders name?
Dellow from wiki
“Having read reasonably widely about Dellow; the editors feel the following is reasonably accurate and avoids duplication: –
A small number of very early cars used Austin 7 chassis as per Ron Lowe’s special, FUY 374. The other prototypes included OP 3835 owned by Earl “Mick” Heighway, HAB 245 (Eric Penn) CAB 282 (Lewis Tracey) and EDE 384 (Merrick). From 1950, with scrap Austin 7’s in short supply, an 1172cc Ford 10 engine was utilised in an A-frame chassis with a very light tubular steel framework welded to the chassis and panelled in aluminium, early cars having no doors. The chassis frames were made partly from government surplus chrome-molybdenum rocket tubes, the rockets being RP3 types as used by Hawker Typhoon and Bristol Beaufighter aircraft.
The design emphasis was on light weight and a rearward weight bias for trials. Many sporting awards were won by drivers of Dellow cars in the early 1950s, not only in trials but also in other events such as driving tests and hill climbs. Dellows also took overall honours in the MCC organised Daily Express National Rally and the Circuit of Ireland Rally. Dellow drivers often shone in other forms of motor sport, Tony Marsh from Kinver went on to become RAC Hill Climb Champion on no less than 6 occasions. Peter Collins from Kidderminster, later drove for HWM, BRM and Vanwall, then for Ferrari.
Dellow styling was created by Lionel Evans at his Radpanels coachbuilding business in Kidderminster. The car evolved through several variants known as Mk I to Mk V. Early cars had the Ford beam front axle with transverse spring and short Panhard rod, quarter elliptics at the rear and Andre Hartford friction dampers all round. The Ford torque-tube was suitably shortened and the vast majority of cars used the 3-speed Ford gearbox but a very small number of cars (KOX 300 being one of them) were produced to customer order with a 4 speed gearbox, from the 10M series Morris.
The Ford E93A engines were mildly tuned and many used twin SU’s on a cast alloy ‘Dellow’ manifold. However, as an option the factory also offered the car with a Wade-Ventor (Roots type) supercharger installation. The MkII saw the introduction of a new and much more robust rear chassis section with coil springs, separate telescopic shock absorbers and a Panhard rod. This stiffer chassis allowed doors to become an optional fitting. The Mk V version was derived from the “Lightweight” Dellow (WRF 81) constructed by Tony Marsh for speed events in 1954. It saw coil springs introduced at the front (over telescopic dampers) although still with a one-piece Ford beam axle. About 300 Dellows in total are believed to have been constructed.
A new company, Dellow Engineering, based in Oldbury near Birmingham produced a Mk VI – often incorrectly quoted as having a glass fibre body, it too was in fact built with alloy panelling. Very few Mk VI’s were made.
- Dellow Prototypes -1947 – Ford 10 powered Austin 7 chassis
- Dellow Mk I – 1949 – Ford 10 powered basic 2 seater
- Dellow Mk II – 1951 – Optional doors, rear coil springs
- Dellow Mk III – 1952 – 2+2 model
- Dellow Mk IV – 1954? – one-off with Ford Consul engine
- Dellow Mk V – 1954 – Coil sprung beam front axle, tuned engine, Mk Vs still only had the 3 speed box although the “Lightweight” WRF 81, now owned by Nigel Brown, had a 4 speed ex-Morris unit (information from David Haley of the Dellow register.)
- Dellow Mk VI – 1957 – Independent front suspension, ladder chassis”
Dellow in the Dales and Meadows: The ups and downs
It’s been suggested the Dellow was forced into production by popular demand.
The best years for Dellow were 1949 to ’55.They were known as the Dellow Light Car.
They sold their early cars with the strap line: –
“A car which is built for a job and does it”
Dellow were also suppliers of Wade-Roots /Wade -Ventor superchargers and this possibly explains that option to the 1772 engine.
The advantages were:-
- Simple tubular frame
- Ford 10 /Prefect mechanical parts including 1172 side valve engine and 3 speed gearboxes
- Transferse leaf spring
- Aluminium body
- Aesthetic on traditional and trials canon i.e.. 15 gallon petrol tank and twin spare wheels over rear axle for traction
- Relatively high ground clearance
As such the Dellow was a commercial proposition .It offered :-
- Light , economic motoring
- Cheap to purchase and run; e.g. good fuel consumption
- Appealing all round specification / performance
- Functional , stark purposeful aesthetic
- Practical and relatively easily maintained and tuned etc.
- Brisk performance between 69-80mph depending on model and state of tune
Estimates vary but suggestion about 300 built.
Petrol consumption varied between supercharged estimated at 25 to 1172 at 35 mpg
Retail prices ranged from: –
1952 £841-10s including purchase tax for Mk.III [ 4seat]
Optional extras included
Twin carburettors £13
Technical specifications from Armstrong for Mk.VI c1955- 1957 [see also Automobiles Mainwaring]
|Bore & Stroke||63.5 x 92.5mm|
|Compression Ratio||7 to1|
|Valve gear||Side valve|
|Maximum bhp||36 at 4400rpm|
|Carburettors||1 Solex or twin SU|
|Fuel pumps||AC mechanical|
|Fuel tank capacity||5.5 galls [Imp]|
|Brakes :front||hydraulic drums 10in|
|Brakes : rear||hydraulic drums 10in|
|Wheels||bolt on pressed steel|
|Maximum speed [estimated]||75-80mph|
Figure 2.Editors photographs
Figure Editors photographs.note typical dashboard layout and instrumentation
Form and Function
” The Dellow company can claim to be one of the first in GB to use a rigid tubular chassis and coil spring suspension ,with a good ground clearance and very light weight these sturdy little cars proved ideal for the specialised trial events . The body frames were built up from welded steel tubes which in turn, welded to the chassis frame to form an integral structure of great strength ,aluminium body panels were added which gave durable results with an attractive ,purposeful appearance without unnecessary weight ”
Figure .Editors sketch hoping to confirm the aspects of form and function present in Dellow trials car
The base chassis was an “A” frame similar in concept to Austin Seven but of rather large diameter tube c 3-1/8th inch to 31-/2 inch ?There was a bracket at the apex that supported front transfers axle.
These stark vechicles were totally unpretentious
“compact smoothly contoured two seat sports car rectangular radiator intake with inset mesh grill flanked by indicator lamps ,divided bumpers front and rear ,straight through flowing wing line with dip at cockpit to vertical rear line .rear lamp cluster in two vertical groups of three. Deep two piece “vee” windscreen. Disc wheels with large plain hubcaps
NB resembles many period Ford Specials of the era.
Trials cars often used “knobbly” tyres for extra grip. Two spare wheels were often carried and mounted externally rigged at the extreme rear. This was entirely practical. They offered alternative when road use undertaken [ i.e. many dual use cars driven to events] and extra weight required over rear axle to assist traction. Large fuel tanks [slab type performed same weight function]
Hinged fold flat windscreens were practical in dual use situation and raised would be impractical during trial.
Light weight and high ground clearance i.e. avoids potential rocks and objects assist navigation whilst protecting vulnerable components like sumps and assisted in deep water etc.
Chapmans early cars were for trials use i.e. Austin special, followed by Mk.II,IV
The editors belief a late example was as follows:-
Figure 5.Editors sketch of Lotus believed to have been commissioned for trials use .note chassis layout extrapolated from period photographs.
Our learning /educational opportunities are intended to be challenging thought provoking and requiring additional research and/or analysis.
These opportunities are particularly designed for a museum/education centre location where visitors would be able to enjoy access to all the structured resources available in conjunction with any concurrent exhibition.
In this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate:-
- Enumerate British trials cars, which mechanical components did they use?
- To what extent were the Lotus early cars up to Eleven dual use cars?
- What were the qualities of Ford 1172cc engine that made it attractive for sports cars, specials and competition
- Enumerate British specialist cars that used Ford 1172 components?
- What was the post war life of the Ford 1172; what superseded it?
- Enumerate full list of Ford parts used in Dellow
Figure 6.Ballamy Special note cannon of the era and particularly instrumentation and twin cowled cockpit.
Education, Economics and Exhibitions
The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.
For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.
- Dellow :An expert in the field
- Dellow :In the woods and thick-of -it
- Dellow :A Trials Inclination
- Dellow and Trials with Acclivity
- Dellow and Lotus :Trailblazers
Figure 7.Editors sketch of Lotus trials car [see note above].Note similarities to Dellow.
The Dellow is a product of its time. Some belief it was late coming to the market. However the war intervened but it helped overcome the rationing, austerity and provided a much needed and viable dual use car. It was relatively expensive but this might be compared with Lotus Mk.VI and perhaps explains why Chapman and other enthusiasts chose to build specials and innovation , improvisation was such an important consideration to outcome and success.
The Dellow being a dual use car was practical attractive and a response to demand. Its sales figures confirm this.
The Dellow followed a British sports car tradition and canon in being two seat, light, small and sprightly and off road orientated. It also borrowed the time honored visual clues and essential specification. Yet remains clearly identifiable.
Chapman joined the trials hobby /sport and his early special indicates he sought to be competitive but at significantly lower cost. His subsequent cars became more competitive but like Dellow were dual use.
There remains a strong continuation /legacy of this form of competition as developed by Historic Sporting Trials. The editors suspect the inclination towards this includes some of the following factors: –
- A turning away from excessive technology and specialisation
- Greater interest in camaraderie and participation as per original
- Historical connection and original cars still existing
- Practicality and affordability –the Ford side valve components remain generally available again as in original case
Chapman/Lotus involvement in motor sport spreads from the simple to ultra-sophisticated but there is always a thread of innovation, improvisation , mutation and sense of competition. It’s interesting to note chapman was a competent driver both on track or trial.
Seventy years after Chapman’s earliest participation, Lotus cars are still demonstrating their technical significance and relevance in the market place but also in historic trials.
Appendix: Production bases
Dellow Motors Ltd;
Dellow Enginering Co ltd;
British Sports Cars.Watkins.Batsford.1974
The Sports Car.Boddy.Batsford 1963.
The Worlds Racing Cars.Armstrong.Macdonald.1959.
European sports and GT cars 1945-1960.ronson .Foulis.1981
Sports Cars.Douglas.Ian Allan.
Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.
*Items in italics non A&R library books.