A tiny company that would make its name in modified Range Rovers started out with an eye-catching supercar prototype
Matt Burt
16 April 2015

Here’s one that slipped through the cracks. The Glenfrome Delta, the work of a small Bristol-based firm, was a stunning two-seat sports car that never got past the concept stage.

Glenfrome Engineering, run by father and son Ken and Michael Evans, spent 20 months building its mid-engined prototype, finishing it just in time for the 1977 Earls Court motor show.

The car didn’t snag any orders, but a wealthy Arab liked the bodywork and commissioned a converted Range Rover. That took Glenfrome into a very lucrative new direction as coachbuilder of bespoke Range Rovers destined for the Middle East.

The prototype Delta, meanwhile, was wheeled to the back of a storeroom and covered with a dust sheet for eight years. And then Autocar’s Bob Cooke was invited to drive the car.

“The past came flooding back as we blasted along the M32,” wrote Cooke.“The engine had a familiar sound, being the 1998cc, four-cylinder unit developed jointly by Saab and Triumph and used in the Dolomite Sprint.

“The suspension is Triumph GT6 front and Stag semi-trailing arm rear, and so felt familiar – a little crashy over bumps but sportily firm.”

While the Delta sat on underpinnings found in a scrapyard, its bodywork was the work of passionate, skilled craftsmen.

“Smooth panels, gentle curves and neat joints were all made freehand in sheet aluminium,” wrote Cooke. “Ken Evans laid out the engine, running gear and suspension on a workshop floor and marked a few chalk lines on the ground. No design or technical drawing ever existed for the Delta.

"Evans and Viv Hunt, an aluminium craftsman, started with a steel chassis welded up to hold the mechanical components together. Then the outline of the body was framed in welded-up light tubing and the aluminium sheet bent and rolled to fit. When the panels matched up, the tubing framework beneath was cut out."

Unsurprisingly, the eight-year-old,unsorted show car wasn’t stunning to drive, although Cooke could sense potential.

“The Delta uses 13in wheels,so the car is effectively undergeared,” he wrote. “It did have one saving grace,though, in that acceleration was good enough to winkle a way in front of the traffic and the engine flexible enough not to call for lots of gear changing.

“Production versions would have given much more exciting performance – the plan was to fit a turbocharged Rover V8 and a ZF five-speed transaxle.”

Afterwards, the Delta went back into storage. “Perhaps, as they drape the sheet back over the Delta prototype, there’s a faint thought in the back of Evans’s mind that the time might be ripe to reconsider putting its stylish two-seater into production. Those freehand lines and a blown V8 sound too good to miss.”

Previous Throwback Thursdays

4 March 1899 - Steam, electric or combustion engine? 

14 February 1913 - 100 miles in one hour

8 April 1916 - Making post-war predictions

25 March 1922 - Caterpillar tracks are the future

2 February 1934 - The ethics of skidding

21 January 1949 - Tidier tails

27 January 1961 - Ford Thunderbird road test

19 January 1980 - Talbot Horizon road test

13 February 1982 - 4x4s tested on the farm 

16 March 1994 - Bentley's Concept Java

16 April 1997 - When Bugatti bit the dust

4 April 2001 - 0-260mph in 6.0 seconds

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Comments
7

16 April 2015
Looks like a 308 Ferrari had a crash with a Maserati Merak!!

16 April 2015
I suppose it is 'stunning', but not in a good way. Stunning, perhaps, that such a lash up could be presented at a motor show as a potential production vehicle.

16 April 2015
Much nicer. Nick Butler deserved so much better than he got.

16 April 2015
Maybe the pictures don't do it justice but, it looks like a particularly badly executed kit car.

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

16 April 2015
More like throw away; that thing belongs in s skip.

 

26 April 2015
Those hand me down tail lights are huge...

26 April 2015
Those hand me down tail lights are huge...

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