1954 Delaney Delta
Delaney Delta, builtin the 1950s by Eric Delaney of the Delaney Gallay radiator firm. The body, complete with matching ali hardtop, was built by the DG staff in their spare time on a John Griffiths ladder frame, using Citroën coil and wishbone front suspension and rack and pinion steering, with Ford transverse leaf and solid axle at the back. The ubiquitous 1172 sidevalve Ford engine was supercharged, and to keep the centre of gravity low the fuel was carried in three small under-floor petrol tanks connected in series.
The car resurfaced about 15 years ago and was sold to the USA, where it was campaigned in a few historic events before sinking once more into obscurity. The new owner, Frank Barnard, found it there, swapped it for an old Formula Ford and shipped it home.
The seats hinge up with the rear bodywork,the spare wheel stays put.
From AUTOWEEK MARCH 4 1993
Example of eccentric English automotive enthusiasm
By John Matras
Perhaps England doesn’t produce more eccentrics than any other country. Maybe it’s only that in England eccentricity is cultivated to such a high degree. Adam Smith’s nation of shopkeepers is also the home of the tinkerer, the investor and the creator. Such as Eric Delaney.
Delaney was owner of Delaney-Galley, a subcontractor for the Ministry of Defence. The firm was a supplier to the aircraft and automotive industries making, among other things, radiators for Ford.
Delaney was apparently an automotive enthusiast as well, because he had another Englishman, John Griffiths, build him a chassis. Griffiths had been building simple tubular chassis for Ford V8 specials and Delaney asked him for one scaled to a Ford 10 engine, a little 1172cc E93A four cylinder.
Delaney took, the completed chassis—the parallel main tubes large enough for a Rolls-Royce aircraft engine – to his shop where a custom aluminium body of his own design was crafted.
And what a shape it was.
Unlike a contemporary Lotus, Morgan or even MG, Delaney’s sportster was a sophisticated, complex shape. A straightedge won’t follow rounded and creased body contours anywhere. The aluminium bracing underneath took hours to cut , shape weld and finish. Rounded pods envelope the front suspension and instead of simple off the shelf stampings. Delaney covered the front wheels with magnificent aeroform spats.
Delaney’s foresight included maintenance. Both front and rear body sections pivot up to expose the mechanical bits beneath, the front even having integral (if heavy looking) props to hold up the hood. The rear bumpers pivot to clear the rear section. The Delta has doors, but thumb screws hold them closed and it’s easier to step over than open them. Delaney even made a removable hardtop for his creation, even if it does look rather out of proportion.
But then the body itself is somewhat oddly proportioned. The overall layout is good and the side view attractive. But the car seems to change shape as you walk around it. From one angle it’s almost handsome, but from another it seems comic and bizarre. If nothing else, it shows how difficult automobile design really is.
Under the bodywork, however, lurks the real wonder of the Delaney Delta. Double A-arms of undetermined origin along with coil spring, tube shocks and a custom upright comprise the front suspension. In the back there’s a torque tube rear axle with a transverse leaf spring and lever shocks. Brakes are big Ford hydraulic drums. Steering is a very direct Citroen rack and pinion and wheels are 16 inch Ford Popular type with 5.60 x 13 Michelins (mud tires at the rear).
There are three interconnected fuel tanks under the Delta’s floor with independent leads from two of them, each with its own floor mounted petcock, designed almost as if Delaney was into say ”custom fuels” for his competition outings.
In addition to a straight pipe for racing, the Delta has a muffled road exhaust system. Full road equipment, by the way , was furnished: Headlights, parking lights, brake lights, speedometer, windscreen, charging system and electric cooling fan with blades seemingly big enough only to cool its own motor, much less draw air through the radiator.Oddly there’s no tach, perhaps because you could rev the little flathead ‘til the valves float without hurting anything.
And that engine is perhaps the prize gem in this rolling jewellery. It’s not certain why Delaney chose the 1172 cc four, except that it was popular club racing. But why modify a small unit so extensively when a larger engine would have provided the same performance with less effort? Whatever the reason, the Delta’s tiny four sits midships in front of the driver.
The standard Ford crankshaft is balanced. the rods polished, the head modified, valve springs competition type and a race cam is installed. There’s a Vertex magneto and four-branch tubular headers sweep back toward the rear. Twin vee-belts drive all the accessories, including a remote side mounted water pump that supplements the normal thermo-siphoning of the Ford four-banger. The radiator is too low for such “natural” cooling anyway, and a remote header tank sits over the engine. Topping it off is a Roots-type Marshall supercharger fed by a 1.25inch SU carburettor.
It’s also the kick of driving the Delaney Delta . Torque is instantaneous and so abundant that it must be coming from some torque Savings & Loan somewhere. The Delaney makes withdrawals when the throttle’s pushed.
The Citroen steering is precise and the leverage perfect for quick changed in direction. However other controls leave something to be desired. The pedals are bottom- hinged, identical in shape and feel, and close together as well. The shiftrer is vague and recalcitrant until one learns its ways.
Gaps in the floorboards also prove that Delaney, though good, didn’t think of everything. He did, however, fit a Delaney Galley “number plate” to the firewall!
Eric Delaney raced the car primarily with the London Motor Club in the mid-‘50s. The Delta then sat unused for years before being sold in 1970. It changed hands again in the late ‘80s before it was recently bought and restored (little was needed) by Marc Evans, owner of New England Classics in Stratford Conn. It made its vintage racing debut at the Hunnewell Hill Climb last May.
Many dream of building their own car. A few try. Fewer still complete the task. Only a handful build their own car as well as Eric Delaney’s highly individual and wonderfully unconventional Delta. May England always nurture its band of eccentrics. They’re always a joy to us boring, normal folk.