Andrew Duncan lay in hospital after an almighty accident at Mallory Park, in a Formula Three Alexis he was racing for the first time, and decided that, after all, he was never going to be World Champion. Perhaps his talents lay more in the design and construction of racing cars. Several years earlier he had built his first racing car, naturally enough a 750 Special, while still at school. During his six-month convalescent period he also dreamed up the title Maxperenco, an amalgam of Maximum Performance Engineering Components and, a couple of years later, in 1967, Maxperenco Products Ltd. came into being on the fairly regular foundation of absolutely nil capital and a great deal of enthusiasm. As partners Duncan had two friends, John Andrews (who had been the joint owner of the Alexis) and Bill Longley. These days Duncan has complete control of the company and neither of the other two partners is connected with the business.
Since then the cars which Maxperenco builds, they are called DuIons, have appeared in surprisingly diverse categories of racing. The mainstay of the business has always been Formula Ford and continues to be so, but a couple of Dulon sports cars have raced in World Championship sports car events recently, (the one with a Porsche engine halting Jacky Ickx’s progress in a Ferrari a couple of times) while the Dulon Formula 5000 one-off has been a consistent finisher in the hands of Bob Miller.
In fact Duncan says that his firm would rather be termed “chassis engineers” than racing car manufacturers and they are keen to tackle special and interesting one-off jobs. The Formula 5000 was such a project while Dulon also built the chassis for the Daily Telegraph car at last year’s Motor Show. This year their name has been kept consistently in the motor racing news by the success of Ian Taylor in his Dulon LD9 Formula Ford car. Taylor drove the first ever Dulon in 1968 and is now one of the most experienced competitors in Formula Ford. Lack of finance and sponsorship has kept him out of Formula Three, and the higher categories, which is a shame but meanwhile he, and the works backed Dulon, are one of the strongest combinations in Formula Ford.
Duncan readily admits that his firm has been through some ups and downs in its time, barely scraping through on meagre resources more than once. However his enthusiasm and dedication has kept it going and about 50 racing cars have come out the cramped premises in Didcot, Berks.
Duncan is now 30 and comes from Oxford where he had a very early interest in racing cars. He joined the 750 MC as a junior member and built and raced a 750 Special and was later involved in a Formula 1200 with John Andrews. In 1964 came the abortive Formula Three programme, with an ex-David Prophet Alexis, and that cost Duncan six months off work and a broken leg. He was, by profession, an instrument maker with Oxford University and he continued this job while Dulon got underway.
The whole Dulon philosophy centred around selling Formula Fords as kits of parts rather than complete cars, at something of a knock down price, thus giving impecunious would-be racers the chance to buy a brand new car. This system worked fairly well, originating from a lock-up garage and then moving to a rather dubious Nissan hut in a wood where the dedicated Dulon directors had to generate their own electricity. In any event, the Dulon LD4 proved to be a competitive chassis for the 1968 season and Ian Taylor and Reg Thurley started to log up some excellent results, Taylor taking the Castle Combe lap record amongst other successes. In fact, by working day and night from their dank workshops, the little team managed to turn out 27 Formula Ford LD4s during 1968 and 1969 and many of them are still racing today.
September 1969 saw Dulon move into their present workshops at Riches Sidings, Lower Broadway, Didcot, Berks. which was far better than previous premises without being luxurious. For 1970 the firm had its busiest year ever with several new projects. The Formula Ford was completely redesigned with a new square tube chassis and a smart wedge-shaped body. This car, known as the LD9, is still in production today and is competitive as anything in Formula Ford.
However, a more exciting project was the LD6, which was a beautiful GT car and the plan was to produce them mainly for the road plus a few competition versions. The body was similar to scaled down GT40 and was designed by Les Margetts who continues to work for Dulon, building all their fibreglass bodies. The prototype attracted enormous attention and Dulon had plenty of tentative orders but just did not have the capital to tool up properly and get the whole thing underway. Subsequently the design and body moulds were sold to another party who promptly went into liquidation.
Also in 1970, Dulon built Bob Miller’s Formula 5000 LD8 based around a Ford V8 engine and ZF box supplied by Miller. The car came in for considerable criticism in the motor racing press and unkind things were said about its size. In fact, Duncan feels that the comments were quite uncalled for (the car was no larger than a Lotus 70) and reckons the machine did exactly the job for which it was intended. It certainly proved very reliable and went well considering the tight budget on which it was built. Yet another 1970 exercise was the LD10 Formula F100 car. As is well known that Formula flopped completely but Dulon built a couple of cars, one being installed for an Italian customer with a Ferrari V6 engine for hill-climbing. It was subsequently written off in an accident. A developed and strengthened version of this chassis formed the basis of the 1971 sports car.
During 1970 Duncan also got to know Neville Trickett, the man who was responsible for the Minisprint, the Opus, the Speedy Roadster fake Edwardian car (which is still selling very nicely thank you) and more recently the Siva 530 Daily Telegraph Motor Show car. The two got together on a Mini-Buggy project, a vehicle based on Beach Buggy lines but using Mini rather VW bits. The chassis frames for these machines are built by Maxperenco and now over 80 have been sold. This association led to Aston Martin powered Siva 530 which Trickett designed for the Motor Show and which used a Dulon built chassis. Plans for Aston Martin to become more closely associated with the project fell through but the car now has a big Chevrolet V8 engine and there arc now plans for production.
Bill Longley left the firm at the end of 1970 to further other interests and now the Dulon directors are Duncan, Margetts and Paul Lovegrove, who looks after the fabrications side of the business and rejoices in the name of “Bert the Welder”. At present Dulon have no other employees although their works driver Ian Taylor does all the fetching and carrying. At one time, Dulon had as many as ten staff but presumably when Langley left, the firm had to draw in its wings considerably. However, even with such a small staff Dulon produce their own chassis, bodies and do a considerable amount of machining work, for the cars as well.
Apart from the racing cars, Maxperenco run a nice little side-line in spherical bearings and keep up a good stock of the often difficult to obtain Rose and Ampep bearings which are used in fields far wider than motor racing, as well as manufacturing dry sump oil pumps for Ford engines.
The present LD9 Formula Ford, of which nine have so far been built, sell for £966 in kit form less engine, which constitutes something of a bargain. A new body is at present being experimented with for the sports car but the big project at the moment, and presently on the drawing board, is a new monocoque single-seater which will have both Formula Three and Formula Super Vee applications. This should be ready towards the end of the season and Dulon is very keen to find sponsorship to run a works development car for Ian Taylor.
Sheer enthusiasm and determination has kept Dulon on the map. The recent successes of the Formula Ford are a most encouraging sign and prove that, with more capital, Duncan’s talent as a racing car designer will not be wasted. — A. R. M.