A car that caught my attention at Rockingham Stages Rally was the Darrian T9 GTR driven by Bruce Edwards. The Darrian can trace its history back to 1965 when Davrian Developments manufactured the Davrian, a kit car powered by an Imp engine used successfully in racing and rally driving. This success continued throughout the 1970’s with the winning combination of competitive pricing and considered engineering. By the early 80’s the engine mounts were being adapted to allow for other makes of engines and the small company produced one chassis a week.
However by 1983 Davrian Developments, having made an attempt at high volume production, had gone into receivership and the assets bought out by Will Corry an Irish racing driver who formed the Corry Car Company. With the aim of producing a low cost, adaptable car for on or off road competition, the Corry Cultra was produced, but only a handful were ever manufactured.
Meanwhile Tim Duffee an employee of Davrian was continuing in the factory in Wales to produce spare parts and service the existing Davrians. By 1985 a brand new car, the Darrian T9 was under production by Duffee. Manufactured as a lighter weight, mid engined car carrying a Ford BDA engine, the car was extensively tested and headed into it’s maiden event, the Eppynt Stages Rally. Team Duffee Engineering instantly made their mark with driver Geoff Kitney winning the event.
The T9 was also to be found running successfully on race circuits as well as in rallys. By 1990 the T9 was to be replaced by the T90. Robin Herd of March Engineering had some ideas for improved aerodynamics and handling, and went on to fund the necessary tooling also getting his own T9 converted at the same time. The Darrian took several Championships that year including the Motoring News Championship, Welsh Tarmac Championship and the South of England Tarmac Championship.
By 1992, Swansea Institute had bought a T90 with the aim to develop the students on the Higher National Diploma in Automotive Engineering course to enter the Welsh Drivers’ Championship. This being seen as an excellent way of fostering relationships with Wales leading, competitive car manufacturer. Following this alliance and a trip to Le Mans in 1995, an idea was formed to enter the National GT Championship. Duffee contacted successful Scottish Sportscar Champion Ken Thomson inviting him to come on board and Swansea Institute Team Darrian was formed. By 1996 the team had won the National GT Championship first time out. The team also went on that year to be recipients of a special award by the Motorsport Industry Association(MIA)
The Swansea Institute’s alliance with Darrian was instrumental in the development of the first Motor Sport Engineering degree course. The Swansea Institute is now the University of Wales Trinity St David and presently runs a highly prestigious Automotive, Motorcycle and Motorsport Engineering course. Tim Duffee has now been made a Fellow of the UOW TSD
The Darrian T90 GTR+ continues to be produced today, highly regarded and consistently achieving great results in all areas of motorsports it is found to be competing in.