When 14 year-old Paul Regan moved into a brand new residence in Kent together with his household in 1990 he found a wierd automobile rusting on the backside of the backyard – it turned out to be a Dutton equipment automobile, a totally assembled Melos S1.
The automobile, full with weeds rising by the bodywork, needed to be dragged from the undergrowth by dad and lad to be totally appreciated. There started a 3 yr restoration undertaking geared toward getting the equipment automobile match for the street in time for Paul’s 17th birthday and changing into eligible to drive.
All of the laborious work paid off and, extremely, 28 years down the road, and after not one, however two rebuilds, Paul remains to be the proud proprietor and he drives his beloved Dutton on virtually a day by day foundation, to work, to the grocery store, for journeys to town and delicate cruises within the nation.
Paul rapidly grew to like his Dutton.
Dutton Vehicles, based mostly in Worthing, Sussex, was the most important equipment automobile producer on the earth throughout manufacturing between 1970 and 1989.
The corporate was based by Tim Dutton-Woolley and was run from a small workshop during which the Dutton P1 was constructed.
In October 1971 the B-Kind appeared with a roughly normal spec based mostly on Triumph Herald elements.
The B-Kind ultimately developed into the Dutton Phaeton with later variations based mostly on elements from the massively in style and ever dependable Ford Escort.
Mockingly, you didn’t must construct the self construct equipment automobiles your self. You could possibly purchase them prepared assembled with an upgraded 1.6 litre Ford Crossflow engine if you happen to most well-liked.
In 1979 Dutton launched the Dutton Sierra, an Escort-based property automobile with off-road seems which grew to become a best-seller. Manufacturing peaked at 22 automobiles every week earlier than the mannequin was withdrawn in 1989.
The Dutton Rico had been launched in 1982 utilizing a two door Escort as donor automobile with a Dutton-developed glass fibre physique over a metal tubular body.
By 1989 a brand new mannequin had been developed known as the Dutton Maroc, a closely modified Ford Fiesta with a convertible physique. Initially it was obtainable as a factory-finished automobile however costs grew to become too excessive and from 1993 equipment variations have been made obtainable.
Dutton pioneered amphibious autos
After leaving the equipment automobile enterprise Tim Dutton operated as a advisor however returned to the automobile making enterprise in 1995 with the Dutton Mariner and Dutton Commander, amphibious automobiles based mostly on the Ford Fiesta and Suzuki Samurai. The Dutton Surf, based mostly on the Suzuki Jimny, was launched in 2005.
Tim Dutton earned new notoriety together with his amphibious automobiles and is the one particular person to have pushed/piloted them throughout the English Channel twice.
Paul’s Dutton Melos S1 in the meantime was purchased as a equipment automobile within the early 1980s and was first registered in 1986. It was a significant restoration job to get it roadworthy.
The proud proprietor recalled: “Duttons have been reasonably priced kits again within the day and weren’t all the time bolted collectively notably properly. Our S1 was no exception.
“The wiring was a specific pleasure to unravel – a lot of the loom was beneath the sprint and I’ve many reminiscences of laying within the footwell with ft within the air attempting to make sense of all of it.
“On one event my brother tied my shoelaces to the roll bar which turned the Dutton into a fairly efficient straitjacket.”
Regardless of the massive quantity of labor concerned, and his sibling’s sensible jokes, the Dutton was prepared for the street in good time for Paul’s birthday.
Dutton equipment automobile earned shock MoT move
“The Dutton’s first journey in our custody was my dad choosing me up one night after a shock MoT move.
“It was a shock for 2 causes: I didn’t comprehend it was occurring and the second shock was that it truly handed.
“However the first time I drove it was on a pal’s farm on the age of 15 – my father used to run me down there on the weekends to observe earlier than my check.”
From these first days driving off-road on the farm within the Dutton equipment automobile, Paul has loved a lifetime of motoring.
And the automobile has undergone a second rebuild following the preliminary joint effort together with his father.
“The second rebuild was completed with a stunning chap known as Pete Brown who relies in Norfolk. I booked a while off work and stayed in an area B&B to work on the automobile with him.
“His farmhouse and workshop was to Duttons what Hethel is to Lotus.
“I realized as a lot from that have as I did from constructing the automobile first time round with dad.”
Through the years Paul has additionally benefited from the invaluable assist and recommendation from the “superb staff” at Copthorne Traditional Storage close to Crawley in West Sussex.
The storage specialises in traditional automobile upkeep and restoration. They’re skilled throughout a spread of marques from Morris to Mercedes – and their portfolio additionally reaches to the heady likes of Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Jensen.
Paul’s Dutton has now clocked 25,000 miles
They haven’t been discovered wanting with regards to the self construct market both they usually have offered fixed help within the care and upkeep of Paul’s Dutton which has now completed greater than 25,000 miles of which round 20,000 have been clocked with Paul within the sizzling seat.
“I drove it to highschool and college – and it’s been in all places with me ever since.
“A lot of the mileage is within the first few years and the final decade as a result of the automobile spent a little bit of time in storage throughout and after college.
“However then I realised there’s no level having it if I can’t match it into my life, so I moved it as much as London and began utilizing it each time I may,” he defined.
Describing the drive as “higher than you’ll suppose”, the 42-year-old stated: “There’s nonetheless a bag of nails character to it as you’ll by no means get all of the rattles out of the factor, however having spent just a few kilos on suspension and brakes it handles fairly properly.
“It’s genuinely as completely satisfied on path to Tesco as it’s on a observe day.
“The engine is a rebuilt 1600 Ford GT crossflow from a useless Mk1 Capri and is energetic sufficient to shock some trendy stuff, no less than till you discover a motorway.
“The important thing with it for me was discovering the proper stability – a 170bhp Zetec in an outdated Dutton shall be an excessive amount of for it dynamically, no less than with out some structural work.
“With a well-tuned crossflow it’s quick sufficient to be enjoyable however by no means past its functionality. Or mine.”
And Paul’s favorite 5 issues concerning the Dutton?
The noise. The exhaust is a straight pipe with a straight-through silencer. That and the Weber/Ok&N make it laborious to not jab on the throttle between gear modifications, particularly because it goes in all places with the roof off.
The gear knob. Sounds foolish, but it surely’s a quantity eight pool ball from a (now long-since closed) pub in London we visited many occasions with associates after I first met my spouse. I subsequently had it drilled and fitted to the automobile.
The dashboard. It’s a one-off constructed by the primary proprietor. We made a duplicate of it for my brother’s automobile (additionally a Melos) however in any other case it’s the one one – and, like the inside (which I retrimmed myself), it’s a great instance of what makes these automobiles enjoyable: you get to design and execute your personal concepts in building. For higher, or for worse.
It’s constructed for use. And it will get used. This isn’t a automobile for exhibits, it will get pushed and patched up when wanted. It has genuinely been probably the most persistently dependable automobile I’ve had for years (which in all probability says extra about my different classics, to be trustworthy).
That it’s a bit of unloved. Folks mock Duttons as a result of they have been low cost within the day and awkward to have a look at. I like that it’s a bit odd, that it wasn’t a automobile I selected but it surely’s one which’s stayed with me for therefore lengthy. So many have ended up destroyed however these automobiles deserve a bit of place in historical past no less than – not everybody may afford to construct Caterham or Cobra kits within the ’70s and ’80s and Tim Dutton did his bit to make sports activities automobile possession extra accessible I reckon.
Some associates factor the Dutton needs to be traded in
Paul admits one or two of his associates have been a bit of bemused by his lifelong obsession with the Dutton. Some even recommended he ought to promote the Dutton on the market.
He stated: “A few of them are a bit puzzled. One in all my associates requested me why I don’t promote it and purchase a Caterham.
“I see his level – there are method higher automobiles dynamically and aesthetically, however none that I’ve such a historical past with or nut-and-bolt understanding of. It’s irreplaceable, most family and friends perceive that and adore it for what it’s.”
Paul is aware of a factor or two about automobiles and particularly traditional automobiles having spent a few years working within the automotive media – a lot of it on the BBC and High Gear – but in addition with different automobile and traditional automobile magazines.
He now helps run a expertise firm that builds digital merchandise for publishers and broadcasters however he’s by no means too distant from an oily rag and a traditional automobile of 1 description or one other.
The S1’s storage mates are a 1978 Daimler Sovereign Sequence 2, which takes care of longer journeys out of London to see household in Dorset and Kent, and he’s additionally restoring a 1969 Morris 1000 with 1275 working gear and he has purchased a second Dutton, a Phaeton, to arrange for sprints and hillclimbs.
For good measure he additionally owns a few traditional bikes, classic bicycles and, at a fairly slower tempo, a set of very fascinating watches.
Dutton Melos S1 equipment automobile has survived check of time
However it’s the Dutton Melos S1 that has survived the actual exams of time and stays his most valued possession. “We paid just a few hundred quid for it. It has been rebuilt twice however is probably going nonetheless solely price £2,500 or so – and it’s one of many higher examples in existence.
“However this misses the purpose: I’ve owned the automobile for over half my life and there’s no value I can placed on that.
“I didn’t discover the automobile, it discovered me, and I now adore it. Each time I drive it there’s virtually three a long time of nostalgia alongside for the trip.”
All of Paul’s automobiles are insured by Adrian Flux, whom he got here throughout in a equipment automobile journal a few years in the past. Flux has specialist insurance policies for equipment automobiles and traditional automobiles.
“Adrian Flux gave me a terrific take care of nice cowl at a terrific value, so why change?” Paul enthused.