Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Paint your wagon...

Over the recent years, Scrobs has hankered after a three-wheel car!

The interest started in the 1990s when I went to an OB's event and a chum had renovated a Morgan 3 wheeler to immaculate condition. I'd often researched the mechanical attributes of a chain-driven rear wheel, which was an appreciation of all the power from the for'ard engine going straight to one source of traction on the road surface, and making such a direct and forceful connection for a relatively small engine.

Some years ago, The Daily Telegraph ran an article on a gentleman by the name of Bob Curl. Bob had been a 'driving force' in car design and manufacture in his earlier years. and if you have a subscription, it's here!

One small line jumped out, as I realised I knew exactly where he was making these cars, as it was my home village a few miles from here! After little thought, I sent off an email to the DT, expecting very little, but a short while after, the phone rang, and there was the great man chatting away to a very bewildered Scrobs!The car was still in its early stages, and a recent fall-out with Piaggio meant that he wouldn't be able to acquire the 200cc engines he wanted for his design! Of course, I didn't have the wherewithal to help fund anything like this, as... 

  1. I didn't have any spare cash, and 
  2. An old friend had told me a story of a chap who'd sold a lucrative estate agency business for squillions and wasted the lot on a failed Formula Three ownership disaster.
We had a lovely long chat and Bob even offered me a drive, but I was still in two minds, but because it didn't seem right that I should swanee all over the county while we were nearly penniless, due to the disastrous Gordon Brown policies of ruining our country, I sadly had to pass up the offer.

I read recently that he is seeking ways to make the Dolphin concept car an electric machine, and THAT  would be a huge boost to a great-looking car! And then I WILL take him up on his offer, as I can just get there and back on my electric bike...

More info below by 'Maxmatic' ...

Dolphin, 2000

Andrew G. of Newcastle Upon Tyne sent me notice of this interesting trike, along with the text of an article from the February 2000 edition of CAR Magazine introducing it. (See below.) Google doesn't find anything on it anymore. Woe.

Title: STUDLY DUCKING [Nope, I don't understand that either]

Sub-title: You'll raise smiles rather than scowls with the Dolphin, a
105mpg car that won't hold up traffic.

>From the front it looks like something you'd find chocolate buttons inside
on Easter Sunday (that eye-searing yellow, incidentally, is the same paint
code used for Ferraris and TVRs). But take a look at that profile. It's
streamlined, like a Spitfire canopy grafted onto a Fiat Barchetta, or even
a Porsche that someone left on an element.

It's the Dolphin and it does 105mpg and 65mpg. Okay, it's often hard to
know how seriously to take these enviro-hero cars. Usually it's quite safe
to deposit them in the wicker rare-groove file. Aside from its quite sporty
looks, however, the Dolphin has a real design pedigree. It's the work of
Bob Curl, who - together with McLaren F1 mastermind and CAR columnist
Gordon Murray - was responsible for the 1992 Rocket (150mph and 35mpg).
Curl has also designed F3 and Le Mans cars - the 1982 Dome car and 1978 I
Bec entrant - and all Lord Hesketh's Formula One cars between 1973 and

Nine years ago, Curl started thinking about what advantages the streamlined
technology used for racing cars could bring to a fuel-efficient personal
transport vehicle, and how to pitch it so it would sell. 'The secret of
these sorts of cars is that you have to want to get into them to have a
go,' Curl says. 'And, once you're in and driving it, you shouldn't feel
like you're holding people up.'

The former was the reason behind the striking blue interior. It actually
seats two, with the rear passenger's legs going either side of the driver's
seat. It IS attractive and, weighing 215kg, quite quick enough with its
200cc two-stroke Piaggio scooter engine. The steering is pin-sharp and even
the four-speed manual gearbox is enjoyable slotty. There's no reverse, but
Curl says that would be corrected for production versions.

It's a lot of fun to drive, and the one-wheeled rear end is surprisingly
stable, although it'll entertain with a bit of speed up and some lock on.

Ready for the road, Curl says it would sell for between GBP 3000 and 5000
[USD 4800 and 8000] and cost about GBP 1000 [USD 1600] per year to run.


(For more information, call Bob Curl on +44 1424 882 358)


(Copied with thanks to Maxmatic

(...and apologies for the formatting, there's only so much an ageing Scrobs can do to get the colours right - it's bad enough working in the dark in black and white...)!


MrMC said...

We got five of us into a Reliant Robin to go to Knebworth festival to see Queen and it still managed a three point turn on the A1(M) slip road

Thud said...

Cars have wheels at each corner, if it has 3, its a toy, sorry.

Sackerson said...

You didn't consider a Messerschmitt?

A K Haart said...

It's good to see people being inventive but I wouldn't take it out on the A38, let alone a motorway.

MrMC said...

We didn't intend to either, thus the emergency u turn.....

Scrobs. said...

The first (and last) three-wheel car I ever drove was one of them, MrMC!

The clutch was so sensitive, I had to start off in 3rd!

Scrobs. said...

You're right of course, Thud, I wasn't thinking of doing a big shop in Tesco in one, and in fact, I'd have no problem getting into one, it would be the getting out I'd worry about...

Scrobs. said...

Yes, Sackers, I remember them well, and a few people around here owned one as well!

Were they capable of being lifted manually into a parking space?

Scrobs. said...

Too right, Mr H - there'd be so much rubber-necking, the highest number of pile-ups would be recorded in just ten minutes...

Scrobs. said...

Yes, why a 'u' turn on a slip road?

MrMC said...

RE big shop in Tesco: I think you are wrong it would be an ideal trolley to transport the shopping to a car

MrMC said...

Why a u turn ? there is a roundabout with two exits, one for Knebworth Park and one a slip road for the A1 (M) the driver took the wrong one and decided to do a u turn, God knows why but I could not intervene I had a French lady sitting on me at the time

Scrobs. said...

I need the exercise for the trolley work...

The French lady presumably had a surprise at such a shift of position, especially if you were anywhere near the funny little gear stick!

MrMC said...

Sandrine... I remember her well, as for gears we got into 4th eventually

Goosegirl said...

I drove a pale green Robin Reliant in the early seventies which was great fun when driving down the M6 at top speed. All road signs for hair-pin bends were taken very seriously especially when one was a bit more sharp than expected which meant a sudden quick shift of my posture in the driving seat so as to act as a counterbalance, so after that any passengers were given a quick practical course of same and their combined weight was totted up in order to guarantee safe delivery. It was cheap to run as it was taxed as a bike and only used three tyres. It has no fancy bits like a heater and all parts were easily and cheaply replaced not like today's computer driven jobbies. I once remember breaking down on my way to work but my knowledge about how cars work was minimal to say the least, but I knew when that happened to other people they got out, opened the bonnet, stuck their head under it and had a tinker about so I did and found a lead waving about. Mmm. Looked at the end of it then looked for somewhere where it might fit onto, shoved it on, closed the bonnet, got in the car, pressed go and off I went.
A past friend of mine drove a Messerschmidtt but I never sat in it as I don't like heights.

MrMC said...

GG A green Robin Reliant... I nearly bought one but realised at the last minute it was actually a recycling wheelie bin

MrMC said...

But my first car was a £150 ford Capri wuth a hard top vinyl roof that flapped in the wind and a drivers seat that turned into a camp bed at random, often at the most inconvenient moments, but saved me from road rage as I was never visible, often staring at the gearbox face to face.

It had amazing acceleration and everyone said no it is just because you have learntin a small car, but, when it died through a dead prop shaft, we could not find another and eventually I found it was because it had a german racing gearbox, which may have explained the wrecked prop shaft

MrMC said...

I then progressed to an old Saab 99 which weighed about the same as a Japanese oil tanker and had a similar turning circle and braking distance

MrMC said...

It broke down in Penrith, with the automatic gearbox fluid leaking out of a broken pipe, I called the AA even though I was not a member, they arrived and rather than towing, the chap decided he would like to fix it, and somehow he did after two hours, amazing

MrMC said...

Noticed your history reference regarding the US first nation people.

I do recall another story regarding this, a missionary walking around an indian reservation and asking a child "what is your name ?" and she replied "Rainbow"

A lovely name he replied, and she added "well, when I was born, my father walked out of the teepee and that is what he saw, a rainbow"

And much the same as he walked around talking to the children, "sunset" and the like, then he saw a miserable boy mucking out the horses covered in dung, "and what is your nsme ?"

"Two dogs fucking"

MrMC said...
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