In 1969 Tim Dutton Woolley successfully completed a 5 year indentured tool making apprenticeship with Pressed Steel Ltd. in Swindon UK. (Now part of Rover). At that time they were making body shells for the Mk X Jaguar and BMC 1100. As soon as the 5 years training was over he built his first car (1969). Deciding that naming a car a Woolley was not a particularly clever idea he settled on Dutton instead. In 1970 he started Dutton Cars, which produced kit cars until 1989. During that time Dutton Cars rose to become the largest kit car company in the world producing over 8000 vehicles. At its height over 80 staff were employed and production hit 22 cars/week spread over 4 factory sites in Worthing, West Sussex. For most kit car companies building 22 cars in their entire existence would be considered an achievement.
In 1979 Tim launched a new "off road" look-alike, the Sierra. In 1982 Ford Motor Co wrote to him advising that they wanted to use the name on their Cortina/Taunus replacement and gave him 3 months to stop using the name. Always being one to fully appreciate the benefits of free publicity Tim was in no mood to relinquish the name and made his thoughts patently clear to FMC. There then followed a year of discussions which came to nothing and FMC took Dutton to the High Court in London, the case took 5 days and Ford lost, we continued to use the name Sierra until its production ceased in 1989. The Legal costs to Ford must have been quite high, for Tim it was around £20,000 which considering that it made news in virtually every newspaper around the World worked out at a very cost effective publicity campaign, Most papers running the story as a David Verses Goliath slant.
By 1989 Tim had lost faith in the kit car industry with many companies ripping off other companies designs. Lotus 7/Countach/Cobra etc etc ... and it was time to get out. In 1989 Dutton had 11 different vehicles in production and it soon became apparent that no one company could afford to purchase the whole of Dutton Cars so it was split into 3 and sold off, none of the eventual purchasers made a success and no Dutton kit cars are now in production. Please DO NOT contact us regarding ANY queries relating to the kit cars.
For info on the early Dutton kit cars see Dutton Owners Club site
In 1990 Tim formed a consultancy company and designed and built many vehicles for companies in the UK, India, Iran, Guadeloupe, Russia, Nigeria, and Poland. The products ranged from 10 seater GRP (FRP) estate cars to 36V electric golf buggies and personnel carriers. This Research and Development company is still operating so if you ever require vehicles (of any type) to be designed and constructed please contact us, although we have to say that unless it is a very challenging project with an unusual type of vehicle Tim Dutton won't be interested!
Living in Worthing (60 miles south of London) on the UK's South Coast and being an avid water-skier and boat owner it didn't take him long to consider putting his considerable automotive skills towards his love of water and in 1987 the first proposals for an amphibious Dutton were considered and a mock up complete with engine/gearbox and running gear were tentatively driven into the River Adur to test for buoyancy, however due to pressures of work the project was shelved until 1994 when the first car was completed and successfully tested in the River Adur.
When the prototype car was running a factory was located at Littlehampton Marina, this ideal site - with it's own slipway direct into the River Arun - was only 1/2 mile from the sea so it offered the ability to test both in fast river states (the Arun is the 2nd fastest river in the UK when on full flood) and also in coastal conditions, in both salt and fresh water - the best of all worlds. Since moving into the Marina, the factory has been enlarged by 60% to cope with the increasing demand for amphibians. Back in 1995 there were already 2 other manufacturers building amphibians, both these have ceased to trade and now Dutton is the only civilian amphibian manufacturer in the World. This increase in amphibian interest (bought about by our aggressive publicity machine) has also resulted in a massive increase in web sites on the subject.
In 1995 the first production Amphibian Dutton rolled off the production line to much acclaim by the motoring/boating press. To date Dutton Marine has not spent one penny on advertising, all our sales have come from free Press and TV coverage. Tim Dutton finds that one of the most interesting parts of his business is constantly updating and improving his designs and steadily since 1995 the vehicles have been improved to the state today where they can easily be taken across the English Channel (as has already been done). The ultimate test for the all-new 4x4 Commander will be driving it over the beach into the water and taking it across the English Channel during 2001.
A couple of years after the launch of the first Dutton the Mariner S2 was introduced, this was mainly because the UK Government introduced stringent new vehicle regulations (Single Vehicle Approval. SVA) which required so many small changes that it worked out quicker to make completely new hull and deck moulds.
As our customer base spread throughout the World it became apparent that most customers wanted the Dutton's built out of all new components, as the MK3 Fiesta was out of production the Mariner S2 was modified to accept parts from the new Mk4 Fiesta and the Commander was born. In Nov 1999 the Mk5 Fiesta replaced the Mk4 and all 2wd Commanders are now built out of the all-new Mk5 Fiesta. Production of the 2wd Mariner S2 stopped in May 2000 and production of the 2wd Commander stopped summer 2001. Information on these earlier models can be found here