Dolphin Engineering was formed by Bud Hull and John Crosthwaite. Crosthwaite was an English race car designer whose resume includes names such as Lotus, Cooper and Jay Chamberlain. Hull was an aerospace industry craftsman. The company was formed with the intent on creating suitable racers for the newly formed Formula Junior racing series. Their design was based on a space frame chassis and powered by a Fiat 11cc engine. The future models of the cars continued to evolve and the design was perfected. In the hands of drivers such as Ken Miles, and Kurt Neumann, the vehicles enjoyed moderate success.
Crosthwaite later left the company to work with Mickey Thompson on Indy car projects. He was replaced by engineer, Don Maslin. Maslin's modified the design by increasing the track and adapting a sports racing body. It was dubbed the Dolphin America. The prototype model was fitted with a 750cc Coventry Climax engine. Later versions of the car were equipped with an 1100cc Climax unit. The chassis were sold to customers in varying sizes and lengths to accommodate the buyers engine choice and preferences.
The third car constructed was for Otto Zipper, a Porsche dealer, for his driver Ken Miles. Zipper had approached Porsche with a request to replace his aging RS Spyder with one of the highly developed Bergspyder Hill-climbing cars. The RS Spyders were nearing the end of their career as more sophisticated racers were being created by marques such as Cooper, Elva, and Lotus. Miles, who was familiar with Dolphin Engineering from his time racing in their Formula Junior, asked them for assistance. Dolphin created a lightweight sportscar racer designed it to accept either a 1600cc or 1700cc Porsche Carrera unit. Special Dolphin 15-inch tires were added to all four corners, as were the aluminum Girling calipers and Triumph disc brakes. It was nicknamed the 'Porphin'.
The Porphin's inaugural race was at Santa Barbara in May of 1963. Miles was unable to attend the race so Lew Spencer was commissioned to handle those duties. The car ran well before it encountered brake and clutch problems which resulted in a sixth place finish.
The following month, Miles was at the helm as he negotiated the car to a second place finish at Riverside behind Ron Bucknum in the Old Yellar III racer. In July the car was raced at Pamona and was retired prematurely from the race. Miles left Zipper to race for Shelby America.
The Porphin was raced one last time in 1964 at the American Road Race of Champions, with Davey Jordan as the driver. The car experienced clutch problems but still was able to finish the race in an impressive third position and second-in-class behind an Elva-Porsche.
The Dolphin Sports-Racers were constructed from 1961 through 1964 and their specifications vary. The Coventry-Climax and Abarth 750 engines were the typical engines of choice, though this varied as well. The body was constructed of fiberglass and sat atop a space frame chassis. It is believed that around ten sports-racer kits were constructed and possibly six complete cars. By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007
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