Dellow cars were made in a factory at Alvechurch, Birmingham, England between 1949 and 1956.
Dellow Motors Ltd was started by Ken Delingpole and Ron Lowe to produce road-going sports cars for the enthusiast to use in trials, rallies and hill-climbs.
A small number of very early cars used Austin 7 chassis as per Ron Lowe's special, FUY 374. From 1950 Dellows used an 1172cc Ford 10 engine in an A-frame chassis with very light tubular bodywork panelled in aluminium, the early cars having no doors. The chassis frames were made from government surplus chrome-moly rocket tubes. The rockets being RP3 as used by Hawker Typhoon and Bristol Beaufighter aircraft, also the UP3 which was a ground-based weapon.
Update :- September 2008 issue of the often-wrong Classic & Sports Car says " .... this has been questioned over the years". Not sure who by - but they clearly did not bother to ask the right people. I spoke to the factory foreman, Fred Fletcher, in the very early 1970's after finding stencilled Ministry numbers on my Mark 1's chassis and also khaki paint on the floor panels. He confirmed the use of both rocket tubes and surplus aluminium purchased from Ministry auctions. Also :- William Holt purchased his brand-new Dellow, EBN 117, in 1950 and was told at the factory that the chassis was "constructed from rocket tubes". His then young son - William junior - remembers being very impressed by this!
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 hillclimbs. 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 workshop in Kidderminster. The car evolved through several variants known as Mk I to Mk V. Early cars had a beam front axle with transverse spring, quarter elliptics at the rear, Andre Hartford friction shock absorbers. The Ford E93A engines were mildly tuned and many used twin SU's on a specially cast alloy 'Dellow' manifold. However, as an option the factory also offered the car with a Wade-Ventor (Rootes type) supercharger installation. The vast majority of cars used the 3-speed Ford gearbox but a very small number of cars were produced to order with a Morris 4 speed box (from the 10M series Morris). The MkII saw the introduction of coil springs at the rear and telescopic shock absorbers. The Mk V version was derived from the "Lightweight" Dellow constructed by Tony Marsh for speed events. It saw coil springs introduced at the front although still with a Ford beam axle. About 300 Dellows are thought to have been made.
A new company, Dellow Engineering, based in Oldbury near Birmingham produced an 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. Cars
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 front axle, tuned engine, Mk Vs 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 External links Dellow Car Register website Site all about Classic Trials with lots of pictures and bits about Dellows in Trials
Article about Michael Leete's Mk 1 Dellow Dellow History
Ken Delingpole and Ron Lowe combined more than just their surnames when they set up a tuning company as an offshoot of Ken's business: Delson & Co., manufacturers of bolts, screws and fastenings, situated at Alvechurch near Birmingham in 1946.
In addition to tuning and sports car preparation, Dellow Motors were agents for Wade-Ventor superchargers and Midlands Agent for the H.R.G. sports car, which was Ken's choice when he went trialling.
However Ron's car was rather different. It was based on a written-off (wrecked) Austin 7. During the 1947 trials season he modified it to take the Ford 1172cc side valve (E93A) engine and gearbox. Later he added Ford rear and front axles for strength, stability and better braking.
This car known affectionately as "The Flipper", gave Ron many trials successes whilst it also doubled as his everyday transport.
In 1947 Dellow Motors started to produce replicas of Ron's trials car. These original Dellows were mainly rebuilds, using old Austin 7 chassis with scrap Ford vans providing the running gear. A tube steel body frame was welded directly to the chassis and was clad with a neat aluminium body, designed by Lionel Evans at Radpanels of Kidderminster. With over 400 awards behind them they started to produce cars in 1950 using all new parts direct from Fords, though now with their own chassis built up from reclaimed ex-WD UP3 rocket casings.
These casings provided the 3.25 inch diameter high strength Chromium Molybdenum tubing that was assembled as an 'A' frame, in a similar layout to the old Austin 7 chassis.
With continuous parts supply firmly established 'new' car production progressed and in their first year they made sixty cars. During the following year an improved model was introduced, the Mkll. This had a redesigned chassis at the rear which had been extended to facilitate the fitting of coil springs. The bodywork had also been changed with a lower bonnet line and provision for doors, which were fitted to most Mkll's.
Walter Waring won the RAC Trials Championship in 1951 with his factory built WHW-Dellow Special, a stark and unusual machine with its engine set right back in its frame. Trials cars were changing. Within a couple of seasons, road going production Dellows that had combined daily transport with a competition car had been outclassed in trials as the sport itself developed.
1951 had been a good year with production reaching its zenith at 72 cars. The MKlll, introduced in 1952, was a four seater model which used a lengthened version of the Mkll chassis. The wheelbase was extended by one foot, which adversely effected the manoeuverability. It had also gained an extra 64lbs, which also helped to reduce its sporting abilities. With a price tag of £841 10s 0d including Purchase Tax, it was not cheap. Despite this higher cost, ten of the twenty four cars sold that year were Mklll four seaters.
Very difficult trading conditions were affecting all the minor car producers in England at this time. Sales fell again in 1953 despite more successes in other sporting events, for Dellow had won the Daily Express Rally outright in 1952 and twice won the Circuit of Ireland Trial.
In 1954 Dellow started to use the new Ford 100E engine in both the Mkll and its new MkV.
The latter was a production version of a special light weight hill climb car, built for the unofficial works driver Tony Marsh. It featured a redesigned chassis now with coil springs all round and a lower, streamlined body. It had been planned to make this model using the 1508cc version of the Ford consul o.h.v. engine, but poor availability and high costs prevailed. This engine was fitted to a revised four seater, the MklV, yet it did not progress beyond the prototype stage.
Demand was stimulated in the USA following good publicity by its importers. Despite this only fifteen cars were sold in 1955. Early in 1956 the whole project was sold off to another trials enthusiast, Neville Nightingale. He formed a new company, Dellow Engineering Limited, in workshops at Oldbury, north of Birmingham.
The difficulty in producing the cars at an economic price soon became apparent. The Mkll was still offered, but Neville started work on two new models. The first was a new 'out and out' trials car which, after successfully testing the prototype, it was deemed too specialised to put into full scale production.
The second was a new sports car designated the MkVl. Its ladder chassis was newly designed and it utilised the mechanical components from the then current Ford 100E. This car was clad with an all enveloping allow body built by Suttons - 'Oldbury Wing and Panel Company'. However, it did not appeal to the traditional Dellow customer, neither did it provide the answer for Dellow Engineering. Although the models continued to be offered until 1959 most of the company's business was based on its general motor trade activities whilst providing specialist services and spares for Dellow owners until about 1960. The total production from both companies did not exceed 300 cars.