Bring-a-Trailer Auction Preview: 1 of only 16 built. Fantastic opportunity to own a fascinating and rare Dolphin Sports Racer.
1961 Dolphin America Sports Racer
Chassis No. – 009
Exterior Color – White with Dual Blue Stripe Livery
Interior Color – Black
Engine – 1588cc Lotus Twim-Cam Four-Cylinder
Transmission – Hewland Mk6 5-speed manual Transaxle
This is a Vintage Competition Racecar sold on bill of sale only. This vehicle is not intended for street use.
In the 1950s and 60s California was a hotbed for motorsports competition and independent manufacturing. Dolphin Engineering Co. was one of a few successful builders who were able to recruit top talent and build a range of race cars over their productive four years of operation. Spearheaded by Bud Hull, a former commercial fisherman and aerospace engineer, he named the car and company after his favorite sea creature. Although production was limited to 50 cars in total, the attractive and successful Sports Racers, built from 1961-1964, were limited to just 16 units produced in period. Like his earlier builds, these nimble Sports Racers benefited from Hull’s partnership with John Croswaite, the skilled British engineer with extensive experience at BRM, Cooper, and Lotus. But it would ultimately be Don Maslin, a new employee of Dolphin, that would replace Croswaite and pen the final design for the America Sports Racer. Though initially limited to 750cc H-modified racing and four-cylinder power, the second car built was Porsche powered on order from Otto Zipper, earning the name Porphin. Typical of the period, experienced privateers could further order their cars to preferred specifications including the installation of American V8 engines – a feature of racing that was growing in popularity in the mid 1960s. Ultimately, however, it would be the balance of the twin-cam Lotus engine and lightweight construction that would hit the “sweet spot” of power-to-weight, making the twin-cam four-cylinder a nimble performance machine. Unlike many financially strapped start-ups of this era, Dolphin attracted top talent including Ken Miles who was a Dolphin factory driver and consultant on suspension and handling. Regarded as one of the best built race cars of this period, the Dolphin featured lightweight alloy panel construction mated to a straight tube space frame chassis, adjustable independent suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes.
History of This Car
This example is believed to be the ninth of sixteen cars constructed at the El Cajon, CA Dolphin Engineering Co. factory. Though records of early competition entries are not known at this time, this car is believed to have a build date of September 1961 with first ownership attributed to Dallas Dixon. Ownership history is documented in the logbooks accompanying the car. The second owner, David Turner, is noted in 1975, followed by Allan Holmes, 1981 J.C. Kilburn, 1982, Keith Young, 1989, and Robert Hoemke, 1998. The current owner purchased the car from Hoemke in 2000. According to notations in the three racing logbooks accompanying this car, this example was originally built with a 1300 Climax engine, which was later bored out and the crank and rods changed to yield 1700cc. The car is known to have competed in events in Long Beach, CA in 1969, painted white with blue stripes. Logbooks with the car date to 1985 including SCCA events, Monterey Historics, HSR Willow Springs, and numerous VARA events.
Shortly after the current owner purchased this car, he engaged Dave Bean Engineering and West Coast Cylinder Heads to rebuild the engine currently in the car today. The engine work (performed from 2000-2001) consisted of rebuilding the head including exhaust guides, new intake and exhaust valves, titanium retainers, new camshafts, steel tappets, a valve job, machining for four pistons, and mag checking for the block and head. An ultra-lite crank, Carillo rods, and head stud kit, were also installed along with a new clutch assembly, and flywheel. Transaxle Engineering rebuilt the Hewland Mk 6 gearbox including magnafluxing the case, installing a new reverse shifter fork, a new reverse slider and idler gear, and 1st gear set. Bean Engineering continued work on the car, installing a custom 3 step Hi-Tech exhaust. The Autometer engine hour clock installed at the rear bulkhead currently reads 20.5 hours.
Having enjoyed decades of racing and enthusiastic ownership, this Dolphin remains faithfully cared for under previous and current diligent preparation for vintage racing. Although the car has not raced in recent years, the cosmetic condition is consistent throughout the exterior components with excellent paint and smooth body panels. The open cockpit body configuration is both unique and attractive with low profile and dynamic visual balance owing to the innovative mid-engine construction and space frame engineering. Attention to detail is evident even in the hood emblem, which uniquely displays the Dolphin logo. The various mechanical details throughout the car, easily in view when removing the body panels, reveal sophisticated construction generally confined to more highly funded companies. In addition to the impressive engineering, a host of features include 4-wheel disc brakes, adjustable suspension, Hewland 5-speed gearbox, and proper contemporary updates for participation in vintage racing events. As the roll bar indicates, multiple event stickers validate the preparation and attention to detail particularly under current ownership. The wheels are in excellent condition, appropriately sized and tucked under the beautiful aerodynamic body, shod with Dunlop racing tires. The unique Dolphin bodywork is tightly fit to the carefully engineered frame creating a very low and efficient profile. The body design must be counted as one of the best-looking Sports Racers of this period. The hinge-out doors, perimeter plexiglass windscreen, and rear fender intakes are remarkably sophisticated especially considering the independent construction and bootstrapped finances for the fledgling enterprise.
The cockpit is clean and very well laid out with excellent driving position. A contemporary contoured racing seat and competition five-point seat belt complete the cockpit. A fire suppression system is installed, though it will need to be inspected before competition use. The dashboard features a series of newer instruments cleverly branded with the Dolphin logo. Importantly, the layout of the car offers ample legroom and seating flexibility for a range of drivers. Pedals and gear lever are suitably positioned with instruments and controls properly laid out. The roll bar contains numerous race stickers from participating events which correspond to the numerous entries in the three logbooks accompanying the car.
With the rear section exposed, the simple but powerful Lotus twin-cam engine is revealed, supported by impressive mechanical components, and professional preparation. The twin-cam head is finished with correct satin black and polished Lotus lettering. The twin dual-throat Weber 45 DCOE carburetors flank the intake side, while the three-step Hi-Tech tubular exhaust extends out the other side and exits just above the Hewland Mk6 gearbox. The rear suspension includes polished half-shafts, A-arm construction, coil-over shocks, and disc brakes. Impressive mechanical features are also handsomely finished including polished suspension components and assorted braided stainless-steel lines. The exposed mechanicals of the front section reveal disc brakes, independent suspension, and clever weight-saving construction methods using riveted aluminum panels. Underneath, the car displays a combination of hand formed lightweight aluminum chassis panels and stiff space frame chassis members, sophisticated features that Dolphin Sports Racers were known for.
This is a fantastic opportunity to acquire a fascinating and rare Dolphin from one of the most prolific and innovative periods of international race history. Among the most beautiful designs of this genre, this Dolphin America Sports Racer offers the next vintage racing enthusiast the opportunity to participate in numerous sanctioned events, track days, or annual historic races.
PLEASE NOTE - Although this car has been previously professionally prepared with full safety equipment, it has not been run in recent years and, therefore, we recommend a professional race shop perform an inspection, tending to all systems before driving in a competition setting.
Items Included with the Car
The car is offered with a spare set of wheels and tires, three logbooks dating back to 1985, numerous handwritten notes documenting the engine build specs.
photo credit: conceptcarz.com
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
Fantasy Junction • 510-653-7555 • 1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608