The Dolphin Formula Junior, designed by John Crosthwaite, formerly with the Cooper Works and the Lotus Race Team, and built by Crosthwaite and Robert Hull of La Jolle, California, is one of the first true production road racing machines built in the United States. It offers rear engine placement, four wheel independent suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, fiberglass body, space frame and combining the best of European and American design.
The body, using fiberglass and aluminum, is aerodynamically conceived and features a cockpit of large dimensions suited to the American driver. Utilizing an unusually deep stress section, the straight tube space frame offers maximum rigidity and driver protection. Dolphin Engineering has designed and constructs it's own magnesium wheel, weighing under nine pounds and acting as an air pump to assure cool brakes at all times. The production car uses the successful Fiat 1100cc engine, highly modified with dual S.U. 1.5-inch carburetors, Crower-Schneider camshaft, high compression head, electric fuel pump and the specially designed Dolphin intake manifold and headers. The center mounted gas tank, complying with USAC regulations, is aluminum alloy wrapped in fiberglass to give maximum fire protection. Steering is through Dolphin Engineering rack-and-pinion, 1 3/4 turns 'lock-to-lock', and using a Derrington 24-inch high wrapped steering wheel.
The independent rear suspension, by coil spring/shocker units, is completely adjustable and may be varied to suit the driver and circuit.
The Dolphin may be purchased as a raceable car, or as a kit in any stage of construction. The car is complete down to balanced wheels, safety belt, Derrington racing mirrors, customer's choice of color, owners manual and spare parts list. Spares, incidentally, are as close as your phone, with everything available from frame to instruments.
Dolphin Engineering plans to campaign extensively this year with a team of three works cars. They will race first on West Coast circuits and then most across country to try their hand against Eastern cars. If success warrants it, the team with then go to Europe to make an attempt on the Formula Junior Championship next year. The team drivers will be Robert Hall, John Biehl, and Warren Boynton. In addition to the works cars, four other machines are under construction, three being sold to San Diegans Lou Khapik, Frank Fortune and Ed Erickson.
The first outing of the car at Examiner Grand Prix at Riverside met with failure due to broken half shaft on the starting line. However, World Champion Jack Brabham and Porsche exponent Ken Miles drove the Dolphin during practice and had high praise for the car's handling.
The complete car will sell for 3895.00 F.O.B. El Cajon, California, and include all equipment necessary to go directly to the track. Options on carburetors, tires, fuel tank sizes, magnesium wheels, pistons, etc. will be offered at a nominal cost. Dolphin Engineering will also arrange financing, insurance, and will accept trades on both production and racing cars.
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.
By 1960, Hull and Crosthwaite were busy designing and building a mid-engined Formula Junior car that could compete in the exceedingly competitive FJ-Series against the mighty Lotus and Cooper cars. This FJ racer was meant as a stepping stone into the world of Formula One, meaning the same basic design was some day meant for F1 car. Their FJ racer had a wheelbase that measured 85-inches, had mid-engine placement, had a fiberglass body and a space frame chassis. The front and rear suspension was independent via coil springs with unequal-length A-arms in the front. Double wishbones were in the rear. A Dolphin-designed rack-and-pinion system was used to steer the vehicle.
Many FJ cars of the day used Fiat, English Fords, BMC, and DKW based engines. The Dolphin cars used Fiat components, such as the gearbox, engine, and drum brakes. The engine was given twin SU carburetors with a Dolphin-made intake manifold along with other modifications bringing horsepower to around 75.
A radiator was mounted in the front and an aluminum fuel tank directly under the driver's leg. Another weight-saving techniques, along with aluminum, were the fiberglass bodies, and Dolphin-made magnesium wheels that weighed a mere 8 pounds. They were designed to force air to the drum brakes and aid in cooling.
A complete car, including running gear, sold for just under $3,900. Kit versions were available at a reduced price. In total, there were just nine examples of the first series of Dolphin Formula Junior cars created. In competition, they failed to challenge the front runners such as the Lotus 18s and the Coopers. Their bulky designs and mechanical failures were part of their Achilles heal.
A second series of Dolphin FJ cars were created, this time they were lower and built by Troutman and Barnes. Though fiberglass was cheaper, aluminum was lighter - so the first example was given an aluminum body while the examples that followed were clothed in fiberglass. Power was from a Ford 105E engine though the Fiat 600 four-speed gearbox was retained. Production was much higher, reaching as many as 26 units.
Though the second series of Dolphin FJ cars were better than their first series, they still were no quick enough to battle the newly created Lotus 20 cars. By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2009
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