Few things are quite as satisfying to me than the sound of an old, well tuned 4 cylinder engine with a sports exhaust. It just gets me going, you know? It’s a sound that knows it’s not got the fury of a V8’s sound of the grandeur of an i6’s song, but what it has got is plucky courage and a fiesty attitude. The 1.9l unit in the 1964 MMM Dolphine is no different.
It looks quirky at the front, yet determined at the rear. It’s decked in 60s flair, and 60s charm. Not exactly beautiful, but it ticks all the classic car boxes.
An Italian, rear-wheel drive mini sports saloon. You can hardly go wrong with that, save from on-and-off reliability and the incredibly uncomfortable ride of this thing. It’s spritely, that’s for sure. 0-60 in 8.35 seconds means it can keep pace with today’s hot-superminis and will certainly give any family car a surprise at the the lights. It doesn’t do it as smoothly as a modern car - it’s a bit loose you see - but that’s part of the fun, right?
It’s very powerful for the mid-60s. 130 hp from its bubbly little 1.9l engine. Much of this high output comes courtesy of its race intakes, and if you rev the engine hard enough, you’ll even get the satisfaction of some retro intake noise. Delightful.
What is unusual are its aluminium body panels, something that was generally only found on the top-end of sports cars of the day. It makes it very, very light, and hence very nimble in the corners. The Dolphine isn’t supple - more to the point, it feels hard and solid through the corners - but it can corner far better than most classic cars. That still doesn’t stop you being rolled around a lot when taking corners harder, and a lack of lumber support means you can expect to be sliding around the interior.
Your parents probably remember this car. Either that, or your grandparents probably wanted one, and they were sure to have been involved in plenty of arguments over which family sports saloon was best. I certainly can’t speak from their perspective, but from a modern day car love, this thing is a delight. An uncomfortable, fixing-the-ignition-coil-pack-on-the-hard-shoulder-of-the-motorway, “oh yeah, I’m classic car enthusiast you know” delight, that is.
You know this thing will drive you insane if you actually end up owning one, and it’s sure to burn through your wallet too. But if one comes up on eBay for a low price? Well of course you’re gonna take a look.
- Gavin Anderson