Dobbs Offset Specials (1934)

Hector Dobbs was a Riley Dealer from the Southampton area who had a close relationship with the factory. This meant that he was able to purchase cars that may not have been available to the general public, and a number of special racing models were produced by him in the mid 1930s. It is known that in November 1934, for instance, Dobbs purchased the three Alpine Gamecock models; ADU27, 28 and 29. However, it was from some other chassis that his more famous racing models were constructed.

Dobbs started with Riley 9s, creating a specially bodied Brooklands model, and also racing in some 'standard' production models, including a Lynx. However, for 1935 he decided more power was needed, and so he acquired the first of his 6 cylinder models to work on. The offset specials were a group of six-cylinder racing models built by Dobbs in 1934-35. They took their name from the narrow-bodied, single-seater layout, albeit with the driver sat over to one side, almost but not quite in the normal 2-seater position. The bodywork was streamlined and the mechanics tuned and refined, but based on the Riley 6 cylinder sports chassis. The first car was constructed from a chassis purchased in October 1934, a month before the Alpine Gamecocks, and this car is thought to be KV9478 / 44T2128, one of the three Works 14/6 MPH racing cars used at Le Mans that year. The other two cars were used again by the works team at events in 1935, but KV9478 is notable by its absence. This is now believed to be the most likely donor car which formed the basis of the first special.

Dobbs built at least one more offset special, and he most certainly bought another of the trio of 1934 Le Mans cars - KV9763 / 44T2142. There are suggestions that this car came with another chassis, although no details have appeared as to what the chassis may have been, except for repeated comments that it was a Sprite chassis - the 12/4 Sprite did not enter production until 1936, so this would suggest a 6-cylinder TT Sprite. It is thought, however, that the racing MPH KV9763 may have become the third special, which was sold to a buyer in South Africa in 1938 and crashed in the 1950s, and the mystery chassis formed the basis of the second special. Other theories run that the third special was never completed, and the first special was the car which travelled to South Africa. On balance, however, this seems less plausible, especially considering the recent detective work by Robin Cameron, author of Riley Register Volume 5 which covers the MPH cars, and suggests that KV9478 forms the basis of the second 44T2255; OW7925.

The Dobbs cars proved successful in a range of events during 1935 and 1936, with engines ranging from sub-1500cc through a bored out 15/6 at 1808cc to a full works 2 litre unit, again using a bored out 6 cylinder block. The single surviving car continues to be raced regularly with many successes to its name. However, back in the 1930s, the arrival of the ERA cars changed the game somewhat, and Dobbs withdrew from racing.

Links

  • Surviving Dobbs Offset Special as sold by Bonhams in 2008

    Chassis Numbers: Suspected to be 44T2128; 44T2142 (Spec based on 14/6 MPH Racing Cars)

    ENGINE

    6cyl Overhead Valves
    RAC Rating 12.01hp and up
    Bore 57 Stroke 95.2
    Capacity 1486c; 1808cc; 1986cc
    Compression Ratio 5.8:1
    Carburation 6 Amals

    TRANSMISSION

    4-speed gearbox (MPH figures below).
    Top G/r 5:1
    3rd G/r 6.84:1
    2nd G/r 7.15:1
    1st G/r 9.87:1
    Reverse 16.81:1

    SUSPENSION

    Semi-elliptic

    BRAKES

    Riley Continuous Cable with Cam-Operated Shoes / Girling
    15" Drums

    PERFORMANCE

    Standing Quarter Mile
    Max speed 87mph +

    DIMENSIONS

    Wheelbase 8'1" (aprx 2460mm)
    Track 4' (aprx 1200mm)
    Wheels Six-Stud Wire Centre Lock 3.0x19
    Tyres 5.00x19
    Fuel Tank