Motor racing will never be a completely accessible sport, especially in these modern times of high-tech single-make cars populating the junior slopes. But the fact that racing started as, and always will be, a sport for the well-off, didn’t stop people attempting to open the grid up to ‘the man on the street’. And few did that as well as Arthur Mallock and his U2 race cars.
Across six decades and 30 iterations, U2s have done more to help draw newcomers into the sport than perhaps any other design, and the wide-ranging specifications and models are still catered for today with U2s of all shapes and sizes still competing in anything from Clubmans to formulae Junior and Ford, and historic sports car competitions.
Incredible then, that one basic design could open doors to so much – U2s weren’t just sports cars, they could be singleseaters, hillclimb weapons or even mud-flinging trials cars if you liked. Having started by tuning and modifying Austin 7s after his days in the armed forces, Mallock began building his own chassis in 1958 – the U2 Mk1.
As the name suggests, the ‘You-too’ was conceived as a simple car, designed to be built and run cheaply enough to get more people involved in the sport. With parts laid about him on a workshop floor, Mallock chalked out a chassis that would be 36in wide, meaning it would comply with MSA and FIA demands for both sports cars and single-seaters alike.
Mallock sourced cheap production components – often from scrapyards – to form the running gear. Axles were of Austin 7, Morris Minor or Triumph Herald variety, while engines could be anything from a Ford block to Mazda rotary or even a Cosworth-tuned Goliath. It would all fit thanks to the U2’s revolutionary chassis design.
Arthur drove the first U2 to the 1958 Ford Championship of Ireland title, and that kickstarted everything. Two customer chassis were built and sold, before the Mallock production line kicked into gear. In 1960 the U2 Mk2 arrived which could be raced in sports car and Formula Junior races across the same weekend. Sales reached double figures for the first time.
Across the years, Mallock cars evolved as the chassis and body was refined, or honed to better suit a single discipline, and Arthur continued to apply ground-breaking suspension set-up knowledge to each. The car’s accessibility meant it became a launchpad for several of the sport’s future big names such as Harvey Postlethwaite, Max Mosley and Patrick Head.
After Arthur died in 1993, his son Richard took over the business of caring for the legions of Mallocks still actively racing. And his younger son, Ray, went on to found RML, which has enjoyed success across sports and touring cars since 1984. And to ram home the family appeal of the brand Arthur, Richard and grandson Michael have all won championships in a Mallock of some shape or size.
One for sale
1960 Mallock U2 Mk2
Chassis number 5, which remains in original Formula Junior spec
Mallock U2 Mk2 statistics
- Price new £48.50 (bare chassis only), £75 (including bodywork)
- Price now £9000-£40,000
- Engine 1172cc Ford
- Rivals Lotus Eleven, Lola Mk1, Lotus 7, BMC Mk1
- Verdict Understated now, but a true game-changer in its day.