Lot 294 - 1961 Dolphin America
|Estimate||£50,000 - £65,000|
|Result||Sold - £53,760|
We are delighted to offer this extremely beautiful and rare 1960s American sports racing car manufactured by the Dolphin Engineering Company, El Cajon, San Diego, California. The company was formed in 1958 by Bud Hull along with the British chassis designer John Crosthwaite who had famously been involved with Lotus and Cooper Cars Limited. Dolphin's first car, the Mk. I Junior, ran with a Fiat engine and transmission. Whilst successful, the latest designs from Lotus and Cooper required the West Coast constructors to re-design the rear engine layout so as to remain competitive. This led to the Dolphin International of 1961. The new chassis was of a tubular design by Crosthwaite and elegantly bodied by Dick Troutman of Scarab fame. The Ford 105E powered International was driven to notable success by ex-pat Ken Miles. By this time, in 1961, Dolphin targeted the popular sports racer classes and began to develop a new car. Development fell to Don Maslin as Crosthwaite had now left the company, with the new car being known as the Dolphin America. This full bodied car retained the nose-cone of the International with added wings, creating a Ferrari 250 Testarossa-esque appearance. The rear body was developed from a mould taken from Maslin's own modified Lotus Eleven known as the 'Wotus Bwossomi'! There is some speculation and discussion as to how many Dolphin America cars were built, but it is believed to be in the region of 12 being produced with various engines including, Ford, Abarth, Coventry Climax and Porsche before, due to financial difficulties, the Dolphin Engineering Company closed it doors in 1964.
Chassis No. 2 has recently been imported into the UK from California and is believed to be the sister development chassis to the well known car that Ken Miles campaigned. That particular car was fitted with a Porsche 1,700cc RS61 engine and is known as the Porphin. Chassis No. 2 today is fitted with a highly tuned 105E Ford pre-crossflow engine fuelled via the twin 40 DCOE carburettors with drive via a Hewland five-speed gearbox and transaxle. In 2010, whilst still in California, extensive works were carried out by the highly respected vintage racing specialists, Virtuoso Performance of Hayward, California. An extensive breakdown of these works (including testing) is detailed on the invoices that reside in the history file and is too extensive to list here but does include a full engine strip and rebuild. In addition, further works included the flywheel, clutch, suspension, pinion ratios and conversion to five-speed gearbox; these bills total over $68,000. The wheels are of magnesium construction and are fitted with a new set of Dunlop historic racing tyres. The rear suspension uprights are also made of magnesium and the shock absorber bodies have been fitted with steel bodies for compliance- the alloy bodies originally supplied are included. Disc brakes were fitted at the front as standard with drum brakes to the rear; however, rear disc brakes have been fitted with the original alloy finned and lightened drum brakes available for re-instatement, if so wished. Jacob Engineering, Gloucestershire, England, specialist engineers for historic Sports and racing cars originally supplied the steering wheels to Dolphin and still hold the patterns. It was from these patterns that Jacob Engineering recently supplied a newly built steering wheel as would have been fitted in the period. Two boxes of parts and a spare engine are included. An extensive file accompanies Chassis No. 2 which includes invoices, period pictures and three period magazines; two Car and Driver 1961 and 1962, plus Sports Car Graphic from August 1963. These magazines feature Dolphin within them. A letter from Phil Binks, Dolphin Historian and owner of Dolphin America No. 6, FJ and No. 9 states: "When Dolphin closed its doors in 1964 everything was auctioned off. Dr. Charles Thompson bought America Model No. 2 at that time. This consisted of a bare frame, suspension parts, a steering rack, front and rear uprights, brakes and two seats. The chassis is a sister car to the Porsche Dolphin America that Otto Zipper owned and Ken Miles drove." He adds, "Dr. Thompson campaigned an early Dolphin/Abarth 750 America. This was previously raced by a well known Southern Californian, Dan Parkinson. Doc continued to race the old car and over the years heavily modified it, changing the body, suspension, brakes and installed a Yamaha motorcycle engine. The kit he bought at auction hung for many years in Doc's garage. I acquired all of the car from him sometime in the 1980s. It was stored in my garage until I shipped it to my son Dan Binks in the late 1990s. Dan started work on the car in the early 2000s and finished in 2005. He installed a period-correct Ford engine and Hewland transmission. Dan is Chief Mechanic for the Pratt & Miller Corvette Race Team and is crew chief on the No.3 car. Dan was my crew chief on my Dolphin America when he was 15 years old, he also built my race engines at that time and continued for the next 35 years."
Phil further adds, "Dan Spaethe purchased and successfully raced the No. 2 Dolphin the last several years in Vintage races including the 'Monterey Historics'. This car won the 'Rolex Award' for best performance and presentation in its race group in 2008. Three Dolphins have also won the 'Ken Miles Award' for the best performance of a car under 1,500cc at the Monterey Historics. No other marque has done that."
The Ford 105E powered Chassis No. 2 and the Porsche powered Porphin are the only Dolphin Americas in Europe, with car No. 2 offered today joining two other Internationals known of this small manufacturer in the UK, this one having competed in the May 2014 Crystal Palace Sprint. Fully race ready and with so few of these beautiful sport racers in existence- especially in Europe- and considering its provenance and direct link to John Crosthwaite and Ken Miles, invitation to high profile events is surely guaranteed.
Interested parties should note that UK import duties have been paid.