Dutton Cantera, SIE Triad | Sat, 29 Apr 2006 Posted by : Shannon Larratt
Most kits are either weird looking, exotic looking, or are replicas of existing respected vehicles. However, there have been a small number of kits built in the mid 70s (and always, really) that had a rather mundane look — although you may disagree with me.
Let’s begin with the Triad, made by SIE out of Santa Ana, California. Built on a shortened (by 4″) beetle chassis, it sold for under three thousand dollars and was quite advanced in design. Although it could be built using only hand tools (not including shortening the VW chassis) in about eighty hours, rather than being a single piece body like most kits of the time, it was made of of ten outer panels attached to a set of inner panels which bolted to the chassis.
A specific top speed was never claimed, but it was said to be capable of — and stable at — speeds in excess of 185 kph, even on a stock VW engine.
A very similar car (just a touch smaller) was manufactured by Dutton Sports in Sussex, England. This one is front-engined though, built on a custom chassis (designed to be a simple bolt-together operation with the other components) with Triumph front suspension, a Ford read axle, and a wide variety of engine options (BMC, Triumph, Ford, or Alfa Romeo). It even contained basic safety features to protect drivers in the case of collision, rare in kits even now.
Both of these cars were marketted under the “practical yet sporty” meme. I can’t say I entirely agree with either point, but they do have a certain charm about them, don’t you think?