Blog : Ken Evans’ Dolly Mixture

Andrew Elphick

Evans' Dolly Mixture

Imagine the scene… You’re a successful business man, a skilled engineer and, first and foremost, an enthusiast. Sitting there pondering what to do with your millions, you think, ‘I know lets build an aluminium space-framed GT and exhibit at the Motorfair’. Like you do…

However, if you were Ken Evans you would have grabbed a hacksaw and called the local metal stockholder…

Back in 1975, ex-Le Mans mechanic Ken and fellow mechanic (and business partner) Vivian Hunt spent 20 months between servicing customers cars and their own hire fleet to develop the Glenfrome Delta (Glenfrome Road being the street in which the Bristol-based company’s premises were located). A Triumph Dolomite Sprint 16-Valve engine attached to a Saab 99 transmission gave the coupe a mid-engined configuration.

The low nose with front wheel arch spats filtered out into a barrel sided cigar profile, while its hollow flying buttresses were probably the result of glazing costs, rather than a styling feature. Sitting on wide Dolomite Sprint-like alloy wheels just filling out the arches, the Delta had a stance quite the opposite of the (then current) Lotus Elite.

A further raid of the Triumph parts bin saw the independent front wishbones from the GT6 and the Stag’s rear semi-trailing arms being used for the Delta’s suspension. The body was created by building a light gauge tubular steel skeleton and then clothing the metal ‘buck’ in hand beaten aluminium, before removal of the steel frame within by cutting it out.

The low nose with front wheel arch spats
filtered out into a barrel sided cigar
profile, while its hollow flying buttresses
were probably the result of glazing costs,
rather than a styling feature…

However, the enthusiastic reception the Delta received at the 1977 Earls Court Motorfair was to come to nothing, as did the plans for a Rover V8 and ZF transmission. The threat of new Type Approval Regulations would mean production costs would escalate with each model needing to be built to the same exact standard.

Glenfrome was, though, to flourish within the BL Universe – the precision coupe creation spawned a sub-contracting order to enhance(!) Range Rover’s for Arabian customers, resulting in Glenfrome’s own stretched, multiple axle, multiple-door creations. The pinnacle came in 1982 with the Facet – a re-designed Range Rover with a glass fibre body.

The Facet was designed by Dennis Adams (famous for the low-slung Adams Probe among others) in the style of an almost amphibious-looking Jeep and was, without exception, fitted with every lavish electrical gadget of the day – including a Targa top stored under its electrically-operated bonnet. Production ran at one Facet a month retailing in the region of £50,000 each…

However, OPEC’s stranglehold on world oil prices was finally broken in the mid-1980s and Glenfrome, like Wood & Pickett, was to feel the pinch of cutbacks by its Middle Eastern customers and eventually filled for receivership, but Ken retained ownership of the Delta. Twenty years on, though, and the trail goes cold - Range Rover conversions frequently appear but the whereabouts of the coupe are cloudy.

The assumption is that the car still remains in the ownership of the Evans family – unless, of course, you know differently!

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Editor at AROnline and @hjclassics. Likes cars, taking pictures, travelling and knee-high boots...


4 Responses

  1. lockupchap - December 19, 2013

    Well styled apart from the rump, where the rounded profile fights those chunky, angular light units. Also seen on Duple coaches of the era?

  2. Pedro the parrot - December 19, 2013

    Triumph slant 4, would have kept a mechanic busy, especially in mid engined form! Still no worse than a Lotus 907…As for Triumph suspension-I’ll take a Lotus thanks, or a Marcos or a TVR or a

  3. Sam Mace Sam Mace - December 22, 2013

    Intriguing. Is anything known about the fate of SAE 201S?

  4. David Knowles - December 23, 2013

    I remember seeing that car and being impressed. Somewhere I have photos of it and if there was a brochure, I may have that too. I’ll have a look over Christmas…

Have your say...