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Dolphin Chassis

H Modified


Dolphin Engineering Company, in San Diego, was established just after the emergence of Formula Junior in 1958. Dolphin racing cars were the product of a partnership between Bud Hull, an aerospace industry craftsman, and John Crosthwaite, an English race car designer who had worked for Lotus importer Jay Chamberlain after stints with the Lotus and Cooper factories.


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Most, if not all, of the
information on this
page was pulled from
Frank Sheffield's
History of Dolphin
Racing Cars page

which is part of his
The F Sheff at Play site


Dolphin International

This partnership created a space frame chassis with an 85-inch wheelbase powered by Fiat 1100 engines and transmissions with Abarth gears. The finished car came in at 884 pounds wet! Development continued through nine cars before the design was stabilized in a model of the Formula Junior called the Dolphin International.

Into 1961, Dolphin Juniors were campaigned with moderate success, particularly in the hands of retained driver Ken Miles.  Kurt Neumann had an impressive win at Riverside in June, 1962.

Then Crosthwaite left the company to develop the Mickey Thompson Indy cars and eventually went back to England to join the BRM Formula One design effort.  He was replaced by engineer Don Maslin, a successful campaigner of a Lotus 11.

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Dolphin America

Maslin modified the Dolphin Junior design by increasing the track from 47 to 51 inches. A sports racing body was created by taking a fiberglass mold from Maslin's Lotus rear section and adding fenders to the International's nose. The latter innovation resulted in the somewhat radical Ferrari Testarosa look that excited aficionados of the day.

The sports racer was dubbed the Dolphin America and began to be produced along with the International. The first car was powered by a 750cc Coventry Climax engine. An 1100cc Climax-powered car followed which was campaigned with great success by West Coast driver Ron Cole.

The most successful Dolphin America was powered by a 750cc SOHC Abarth. This car, in the hands of Dan Parkinson, was driven to the H Modified National Championships in 1964 and 1966.

Bunks/Kendall Car

"In 1962, Phil Binks and his brother-in-law George Kendall built this [ Dolphin America #75 on the right] from a kit from Dolphin Engineering in San Diego. They powered it with a 1.0 liter pushrod Abarth motor salvaged from an Abarth Zagato that George rolled at Riverside. One of the two men have been racing the it  ever since.

John Crosthwaite engineered the Dolphin. He previously worked for both Lotus and Cooper. He gave the Dolphin Lotus style fenders and the Formula Junior style nose inspired by the Ferrari Testarossa."

from the Speed Channel coverage of the 2004 Monterey Historic Races at Laguna Seca.


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After the 1962 season, California Porsche Dealer Otto Zipper reasoned that his string of successes with Porsche RS Sypders was threatened by technical advancements among his competition. He unsuccessfully petitioned the Porsche factory for one of their highly developed Bergspyder hillclimb cars, to be driven by Ken Miles. Miles had switched from being a Dolphin factory driver to campaigning Zipper's Porsches.

Zipper commissioned Dolphin Engineering to complete an America model accepting the Porsche's potent 1700cc RS61 engine and drive train. The result was an 1100-pound special that was 160 pounds less than the R/S! The extremely rigid frame and state-of-the-art suspension struck fear into the competition.

Miles took the car to a number of successes in 1963. It is said that the Porsche Factory was unhappy about Zipper fielding this hybrid car. He was pressured into discontinuing the car if he was to continue selling Porsches in California.


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"Ken Miles in the new Dolphin Porsche at Riverside ... he was 2nd winner Overall in class."

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photo by Ernie Bucket
copyright 2002

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copyright Phil Binks

The End

Success of their product was not able to negate the financial problems Dolphin Engineering suffered from a downturn in the California economy in 1964, and they closed their doors. It had been an exciting period of innovation.

Over 40 cars were produced including nine early Juniors and 24 International. The total includes 12 or so America sports racer models.


Dolphin Photos Phil Binks unless otherwise noted

Revised: January 21, 2006.

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