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Super 7esque: Dutton Melos

Dutton Melos

Until today, we hadn’t ever heard of a Dutton Melos, but we think we should have. At one time the Worthing, England based Dutton Car Company was the number one producer of kit cars in the world. They built everything from Lotus 7esque kits to amphibious SUVs. This Melos is closer to a Super 7 than an off-roader, but that is likely because Dutton based their design off of the Lotus. The Melos was an evolution of their first kit the P1, which was nearly identical to the Lotus. To differentiate their car from all the other Lotus replicas, Dutton redesigned the kit and renamed it Melos. We don’t know how many, if any of these were sold new here in the states, but this one looks to have been imported before being put into storage. It is a right hand drive car and still wears it’s European plates. Chuck F (aka Chevy55) stumbled across this and since he hadn’t ever seen one, he thought we would be interested in having a look. Find it here on the Mobile, Alabama craigslist with a $6k asking price.

Dutton Melos Motor

Dutton not only offered kit cars, but they even offered complete cars. This one looks to have been put together nicely, but the lack of information from the seller means we have no idea what this car’s history might be. Given the unique nature of this car, the seller would have been smart to include a bit more information. The only real detail that they included was that it is powered by a 1970’s motor and that it was assembled in the 1990’s. This may offer some clue to its history, as this kit was only built from ’81 to ’89. If this was really assembled in the ’90s than chances are it isn’t one of the factory built cars. Of course this is all speculation based off of very limited information.

Dutton Melos Hood

We are huge fans of unusual and odd cars, but we aren’t always fans of kit cars. Build quality typically isn’t the best and it can be nerve-racking to drive a car built by someone who may or may not understand the importance of high strength welds and structural rigidity. This one might look to be well built, but a few low quality welds could mean the difference between life and death. A close inspection can reveal some things, but it’s difficult to visually inspect the quality and strength of a weld.

Dutton Melos Interior

Given the brands history, we are slightly ashamed that we hadn’t ever heard of Dutton, but then again we don’t tend to follow the kit car world all that closely. We are sure the parts that came from Dutton were high quality, the fact the company is still in operation speaks volumes to that, but it’s hard to say what kind of quality and craftsmanship was put into its completion. Buying a kit car is always a massive gamble, but then again buying any barn find is a gamble. If this turns out to be a factory built car or that the chassis was assembled by Dutton, than it could make for a great buy. It would offer near Lotus performance at a fraction of the cost. We still aren’t sure about the styling, but it’s starting to grow on us!

Dutton Melos Rear

There really isn’t much information out there about the Melos, so if anyone knows more about these cars, such as the typical motor used and other technical and performance details please share. Our thanks to Chevy55 for this tip! So would you trust buying a kit car from a seller that offers so little info?


  1. Jim-Bob

    If I were to venture a guess, the engine is a Ford Kent 4 cylinder. I would also guess that it has a 2 barrel Webber carb on it as they were a popular upgrade back in the day. Other than that, the pictures give me little to go on.

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  2. Chris H.

    Now THAT’S a booty! Neat car, though I’d need better pics and more detail to even begin considering it. I hate the interior, it screams “dune buggy”.

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  3. RickyM

    Looking at the English number plate, as it is an M at the end of the registration, I think this means that the donor car would be 1974 registered vehicle.

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  4. jim s

    i do not think i have ever seen one. hard to tell the overall size from the pictures. seating for 4? i too think it is a ford kent motor,with a cross flow head. it might sell better in england then here. searching the net does not help much. would/could end with a lot of time/money in this project.

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  5. C Bryant

    It was posted 2 months ago on Craigslist.The nice thing is with the “sleek” roofline you can set your drink there behind the glass and a hundred miles down the road it’s still there.

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  6. Rapple

    Re: “We still aren’t sure about the styling, but it’s starting to grow on us!”
    I would suggest some new eye glasses followed up with a topical ointment wherever the growth appears.
    Seriously though, regarding quality and safety, if the roll bar installation is typical of the rest of the assembly, it should completely rebuilt in order not be a hazard to the driver and any bystanders. Then you would have a nice Dutton, which is an oxymoron.

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  7. sunbeamdon

    CB: after a bouncing a hundred miles in this wee beastie you’d need a “pee” break and, most certainly a full glass of a well-aged malt whiskey. OK, maybe just a wee drop, ’cause ya gotta get back!

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  8. philip

    it was registered in Reading England and as was first registered between aug 73 and july 74
    and it looks like a ford crossflow 1600 or 2 litre

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  9. cliffyc

    I’d say RickyM is correct,the “M” reg plate makes the donor vehicle a 1974 ,and I would guess a 1300 or 1600 Kent motor as I had a Ford Escort Sport,with a Weber carburetor and that great freeflow 4 branch manifold.I sefm to recall Dutton kits being mostly Ford based,(the handbrake is a Ford part).There were many Mk1 Escort cars sold from 1968 – 75,so lots of potential donor vehicles!.The white steel deep dish spoked wheel were a Dutton stand out (they maybe bought too many ?!),and were fitted to most of their models.I think had Dutton built this car themselves it would have been type-approved so woulld have “new” and hadm a later reg4stration plate,(A to G for 81 to 89). Sorry to waffle on (as we say here in little old England)!,but it’s a little distraction from watching Brazil vs Cameroon in the World Cup?.Never seen a Melos so perhaps the 2+2 seating not a hit?.

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  10. Rancho Bella

    My day seemed O.K. My boss didn’t yell at me……….then I saw this picture………..now my eyes hurt.

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  11. sunbeamdon

    Rancho – not to worry – turn ’em all upside down – they look the same; time to go home, watch whirled cup highlights with some fine Bourbon Whiskey and water! Can one say the obvious – the US blew their WC chance – now we have to convince the Germans to play for a tie!

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  12. Rancho Bella

    I thought sock-her was what wife beaters did while they drink Bourdon Whiskey and skip the water :)

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  13. waynard

    Has anyone noticed how ugly this thing is?

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  14. thefatkid

    It looks a lot like the Westfield kit Flyin Miata Sells which looks like a lotus. If you put a giant WW II German Helmet on it, it would look just like the Red baron hot wheel I had as a kid.

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  15. sunbeamdon

    The water has to be “branch”. Otherwise I drink my home country’s favourite – Crown Royal, neat!

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  16. John

    It has a broken tail light. That is the only interesting part of the entire thing. If they’ll drop the “K” part, I’ll give’em the six bucks.

    And trust your first instincts, don’t let it grow on you.

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  17. Jerry

    She asked, “Does red make my butt look big?”

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  18. Tim H

    No doubt she ain’t pretty but once inside you don’t have to look at her. Besides if the power to weight is right, it might be fun to show your big red rump to the Honda boys. (disclaimer, I own a Honda that is riced out)

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  19. Seg

    I’m from the UK, Wales in fact, and if you spot the welsh dragon sticker on the fat rear, it shows either the owner was welsh or it was owned by someone in wales and then imported to the USA. Duttons were’nt that good then, bit low quality and most models pretty ugly, ie ugly then, and ugly now, but then thats personal taste. Cheap to run, and a good way of recycling a rusty old ford escort, or cortina. Other than that just another interesting car that most people wouldnt want to own for themselves….

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  20. motorclaimguru ltd

    Duttons are ace little things, they started off in the 70’s and the first one’s were very like a lotus 7. The early ones had cycle wings on, but the bonnet was quite angular at the front. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dutton_Phaeton_-_Flickr_-_exfordy_(1).jpg it was called the s7, this then changed to what was called the Dutton phaeton, which had 3 different versions, I had a S2 and loved it, the melos above was based on the phaeton, by had a slightly longer wheel bases and different bodywork.

    I always preferred the phaetons , as they looked miles better! http://www.classic-kitcars.com/images/imgtxt/700/1256762333-Dutton_front.jpg
    The melos above has a ford crossflow out of a mk 2 escort, its on a 28/32 dcd webber carb, from the look of it, but may be a 32dgav webber,
    The front ends of these cars was from a triumph herald/spitfire, and had twin wishbones,and a amazing amount of steering lock. It was also this that caused the need for the steel wheeler wheels, as they had different pcd (stud patterns) front and back. Front triumph, rear ford. Build quality was generally crap…. frames are strong, and welding good, by the panels were not so great…. but I loved mine to pieces!

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  21. Mark-A

    Just a follow up to cliffyc’s comments saying a lot of British Kit-Cars were Ford Escort based, another popular Ford that was also used was the Cortina & later on even the Sierra, the main reasoning behind it was it meant that almost any Ford Garage could supply spares!

    Like 0
  22. Ian Evans

    Not sure if this comment will find the current owner but this was actually my car back in the late ’90s early 2000’s…
    I bought it already built but not running & in a very sorry state with many parts missing. It was originally yellow, but I took it apart, rebuilt it & sprayed it red. It had a 1300 x-flow engine from a Mk1 Ford Escort & a side pipe – so it was incredibly loud but my kids loved it!
    I sold it in approximately late 2002 to a guy who took it to France as his weekend toy. The last time I saw it was when I delivered it to Southampton docks & handed over the keys….
    How on Earth it ended up in the USA I have no idea?!?
    PS. I am also Welsh & stuck the Welsh badge on the back!

    Like 4
    • Robt

      Ian, How was it to drive? Once you’d finished your rebuild.
      Beauty of course is in the eye of the beholder. If this thing was anything like a real ‘lotus 7’ I’m thinking nice performer.

      Like 0
      • Ian Evans

        Hi Robt,
        Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder, but it was great fun to drive; very lightweight so great for ‘playing’ on the exits of roundabouts as there was very little weight over the rear axle. It was never intended as a serious mode of transport, just something cheap & fun to put a smile on your face for a couple of hours & to tinker with in the garage over the weekends…. & as I mentioned in my first comment – my 2 boys absolutely loved it when they were little!!
        It would have been truly fantastic if it had a more powerful engine as the handling was great – as long as it was dry! Great memories nonetheless…

        Like 1
  23. Sunbeamdon

    OK – What does a Welsh-man drink in celebration of the hand-off of this POJ(oy???)?

    Like 0
  24. Robt

    Awesome Ian Evans
    Thanks for the reply. I can imagine it being a really fun car to toss around. And with the motor in it’s power band fun for the ears.

    Like 1
    • Ian Evans

      It was great fun Robt, but obviously with the hideous looking hard top removed! The only time I put the roof on was to deliver it to Southampton docks when it was exported to France.
      I wonder where it is now, or even if it is still on the road? 🤔

      Like 0

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