Dutton Kit Cars and their owners

Hope this will be of interest to some of you, especially those who took the time to share their experience to help me out.  A quick recap.  I bought an S3 Phaeton in Autumn last year that was running, with MOT and a good basic spec.  Probably paid too much but I wanted a runner to work on rather than the B+ Malaga sat in bits.

Spec; 1700 crossflow, twin 40 Dellortos, BCF2 cam, Bosch electronic distributor, Type 9 box, 5 link axle with rose joints, Gaz adjustable dampers.

First priotity was starting - starter failed on journey home my son in the modern support vehicle provided push starts - then general sorting and decent seats.  First work last year included:-

* Refurbished starter motor and return to 12 volts from 24 volt non-starting, improved starter wiring.

* New water pump to cure one leak, new oil catch tank, change to correct wheel nuts from local breakers,

* Re-setting suspension.  I adjusted height up to as close to 6 inches ground clearance as I could get and reduced the damping significantly.  This combined with changing tyre pressures to 18 psi from 30+ has completely transformed the feel and comfort.

Over winter I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to brave the cold garage so the next work waited until spring.

This year the first job was fitting decent seats.  I am around 6'1" with relatively long legs so the standard seating position is not good.  I had hoped the 5 link setup would give me plenty of scope and this was a plus point in choosing this Phaeton.  Unfortunately the front mounting points on my set-up is where the original front spring mount so I could not just lose the whole box to widen the cockpit.  After discussions on this forum I ended up narrowing the transmission tunnel, minimsing the boxes and reducing the intrusion of the mounting points.  In my rush to finish I didn't take any photos - I'll try to post some soon.

The seats are UK made, fibre glass shells with removable cushions.

They include the normal threaded holes for mounting but these don't line up with the steel chassis strips under the floor so I welded up steel tubular subframes with captive bolts welded in so I can fit the seats single handed.  This took ages!  lots of pondering and measuring to line bits up.  I mounted the passenger seat in a fixed position far back so it is always behind the drivers seat for better elbow room.  The drivers seat is on low profile runners (both sides locking) again with a custom subframe.  The seats are a VERY tight fit in the cockpit and give rise to squeaks where they rub.  However they do allow much easier entry and exit and are very comfortable over a long run with a driving position which is just right for me.

I had a list of jobs to complete before my first planned "event" of the year but had to shorten it (what a surprise).  I did manage to;

*  Fit a new thermostat and a new top up hose.

*  Modify the dash (I plan a new one soon) including some captive nuts (rivnuts) so I can fit/remove more easily and to give more clearance for getting into the car.

*  Replace a rear indicator.  The original fell out and on inspection I saw the others were held on with just one screw and a little clip.  I made up aluminium strips to bridge across the mounting holes for both indicator and tail light so they can't fall out.

*  General tidying of wiring, re-making joints and earths.

A quick shakedown run uncovered a leaking core plug - cured after finding a wholesale motor factor a few miles away - however it took a surprisingly long time to remove the old plug and particularly to fit the new.

I then drove to have tyres fitted (the old ones were old) in town and overheated within 5 miles!

I did make it there and back convincing myself that the guage (it is a not fully working digital dash designed for a bike) was faulty - the oil pressure stayed constant.

However a later check showed a large loss of water - and this was the day before the planned charity event at Prescott hill climb.

I decided on 2 changes;  Firstly I removed the thermostat completely (I will replace later once everything is sorted).  The other idea came after carefully looking at the front of the car and realising that maybe 1/3 of the radiator was exposed to airflow.  Only about half is in the bonnet opening and much of that is shielded by the oil cooler.  This really did not give it a chance.  So just before heading off I cut large holes in the air dam (photos to follow).

I drove the c. 100 miles in convoy with my neighbour in his Morgan and the temperature never went over 75 so I need to re-fit a thermostat.

More updates over the weekend if I don't get distracted!

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Comment by Mark Bagnall on May 29, 2015 at 23:49

Daryl, just looked at your's and Paul's Duttons and they look far too good but I'm up for a little competition - what engine do you have?  Mine's a period piece - crossflow that i've persuaded to stop overheating so raring to go!

Comment by Paul Sheridan on May 29, 2015 at 10:34

M25 then straight up the M40, A40 to Gotherington. 105 miles according to Google maps. 

Comment by Mark Bagnall on May 29, 2015 at 9:49

Hi Daryl, Paul - Prescott hill climb is just north of Chetenham - GL52 9RD

Comment by Paul Sheridan on May 29, 2015 at 7:34

Only 105 miles from me ..... WhoooHoooo I'm in.

Comment by Adrian Southgate on May 29, 2015 at 0:53

Sounds like a plan then Mark. I wonder how many we can get to join us?  If its not required to do a competitive run then not much chance of breaking the only way of getting home 

Driving down Saturday, Staying at a BnB as a group and then Prescott on the Sunday? Its 136 miles from my house, only 10 miles further than Stoneleigh so an 'easy' run in the Legerra.

(if anyone wants to check the destination postcode is GL52 9RD) 

I'll PM you to keep clutter off your blog. :)

Comment by Mark Bagnall on May 29, 2015 at 0:17
Sounds good Ade, if we enter fairly early we should all have parking spots together. If anyone wanted to make a weekend of it there is a tour of the area on Saturday but I've not been on that.
Comment by Adrian Southgate on May 29, 2015 at 0:05

So Mark, you want to do a 'team Dutton' for next years Prescott do?

Comment by Mark Bagnall on May 28, 2015 at 23:40
Just passed the mot at second attempt. 2 failures, one brake light did not work correctly due to the individual spades connected in the wrong order. The other was an over 50% discrepancy between rear brakes. This is now within limits (I believe 30%) after stripping cleaning and new pads. One drum needed two of us to remove - combined hammering and levering while the other just pulled off just like the manual says! One mistake I made confused me for a while - I backed the adjuster off completely before fitting the new shoes and found I could hardly rotate the wheel once I'd "tapped" the drum back on. When I finally tried the adjuster I found the fully backed off position left the sliders on the corner of the adjuster rather than the flats. Once turned to the next flats the brakes eased off.
I'm now working to reduce the oil finding its way out of the engine. The worst is the filter on the top of the catch tank. Reading around the Internet I've formed the opinion that adding some baffling to the start of the vents is worth trying - that is by the oil filler and blanking plate where the mechanical fuel pump has been removed.
Also trying a new rocker cover gasket and have adjusted the tappets while I was there. Will be doing a compression test soon, fingers crossed the figures are good.
Comment by Mark Bagnall on May 23, 2015 at 21:50


Steve, I keep telling myself that I'm making progress but it was touch and go for Prescott. 

I'm lucky to live in Shropshire with goods driving roads and the route over to Prescott is all cross country taking a couple of hours or so.  I found driving with the side screens on but no roof was just right for a "long" drive, plenty of fresh air and quieter than roof on (the exhaust is loud).  Comfort was better than I dared hope and there is plenty of useable torque at 2 to 3,000 revs and lively acceleration once the cam really kicks in from 4 to 6,000.

I was feeling really pleased that the overheating had been cured when, right at the end of the journey, the brakes seemed to play up.  A strip down of pads and clean up sorted that and I was ready to go.

This Prescott event is held to raise money for charity and uses the full course.  As it is non competetive no competition licence or helmets are needed but the organisation is as it would be for a hill climb.  So you queue for access to the hill them make your way from one stop line to the next until you reach the start.  The start marshall waits for word that the previous car is far enough up the course and gives you the ok.

You are free to drive as fast or slow as you want but I wanted to find out how the Phaeton handled so I gave it the beans.  Starts for my motor worked well easing the clutch out at around 3,000 revs then moderating the throttle to keep revs at 3 to 4 thousand before the wheels stopped spinning - pretty good acceleration and a hell of a lot of fun.

The Prescott course has plenty of bends so as I was learning the Dutton I took the slow in then boot it approach.  The behaviour was pretty good with a nice balance with maybe a hint of understeer but still with the ability to turn tighter on the steering and oversteer on the power that was easily held.

Between runs there was plenty of time to look at the other classic cars present - although the Dutton is rather more exclusive than some that were present in multiple numbers - GT 40's, Porches, Morgans, Berkleys, the odd Caterham, Lotus, Blower Bentley, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeos, Marcos and the rest!

I was the only, and the first, Dutton to attend this event and it would be good if there were some others next time - I've certainly seen others on this forum and at Stonleigh that put my "functional" example in the shade.

Entry to the event includes 2 runs but by mid afternoon everyone has had their initial runs and extras can then be bought for £5 so I managed around half a dozen. The passengers I took seemed impressed - even my son who is a tyre development engineer with JLR decided the Phaeton did handle and was a lot of fun.  All in all a very successful day - I will definitely be back next year.

The journey home was problem free and very enjoyable with little traffic - this Duttoneering can be worth all the hours of agravation and frustration in the garage!

Comment by John Allen on May 23, 2015 at 18:03
Good to hear about people's projects. Going well that man.

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