A Dutton Diversion

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I confess that until the other day I did not know much about Duttons except that Tim Dutton-Wooley started to make his individual products in 1968 and developed all manner of interesting kits, from Lotus-Seven-like sports twoseaters to what might be termed the pauper’s Land Rover no offence intended to this useful rwd load carrier. Duttons of various styles are rallied, trialled and raced, and apparently have a club of their own. I had never thought to become a Dutton owner until I saw one for sale for the proverbial song in a reputable dub magazine. I cannot sing proverbially or in any other key, so a small sum of money was exchanged for this interesting hybrid.

I have always rather liked specials, so was intrigued to find that this one was based on a Ford Escort Mk11300 GT but has a 1990 Sierra engine and five-speed gearbox in its two-door fibreglass body. Two hefty spare wheels and tyres came with it, for trials use, these tyres clamped to the rims by 8mm bolts so that pressures as low as 8lb/sq in can be safely used. The steering wheel is Citroen, and the back springs are from a MkIV Escort van, giving a good ground clearance with trials in mind. In fact, this Dutton has competed in four MCC Exeter trials, a Land’s End, and four Edinburgh trials, failing to finish only once, with a broken back spring.

It seemed a good proposition for a daughter who might want to try her hand at these splendid MCC contests. At the moment she is using it as everyday ‘wheels’. A useful mod for the any future trials is a tall additional handbrake lever which operates hydraulically on all wheels but releases the back brakes before the front ones, to help obviate the fatal roll-back at restarts, which instantly loses you marks.

Reverting to the ‘proverbial song’, HFK 777H came with good remould tyres, a nearly-new battery, good upholstery (girls tend to look at this aspect first!), a current licence and a long MOT, and cruised home reliably at 60mph. All it has needed has been a new Escort rear-wde-retaining U-bolt (L3.70 from a local Ford dealer) to cure some back-axle steer, and some sealing to keep fain water out of the windscreen. Can’t be bad, surely?