What a great little car the D.R.K was, originally intended as a fun one-off but met with such critical acclaim that it went into series built-to-order production.

Its origins date back to the mid-eighties when friends, Derek Callister and Keith Hamer from Ellesmere Port, decided that after many years of messing around with cars it would be a real hoot to build their own.

They discussed ideas and came up with a short-list of requirements that the car needed to have such as front wheel drive, air-cooled four-cylinder engine, two-seater sports and aluminium body. They also decided that the body shape should be quite vintage in styling, and they really liked the Talbot-Lago from the thirties, so that might well be the way to go.

They needed to formulate the chassis and suspension first however and as it was they were struggling with a suitable donor. However, Derek’s father, Robert (better-known as ‘Bob’) suggested a possible candidate.

Bob ran Callister & Roscoe one of Ellesmere Port’s largest body repair workshops established 1957 and counting the likes of Shell, British Gas and Vauxhall as customers.

They also just happened to have a Renault 6 in for cosmetic surgery and it was soon agreed that this would make a suitable donor vehicle for their project what with its fairly basic mechanicals and front wheel drive, four-cylinder, water-cooled layout.

Once an old Renault was sourced, they really got to work. The suspension geometry was drawn out on the floor of Derek and Keith’s workshop and an appropriate box0section steel, ladderframe chassis was devised.

They then encountered a problem. One which would see the car go from a four to three-wheeler! The trouble was that the Renault 6 had torsion bar suspension front and rear and because it was different from side-to-side it meant that it just wouldn’t work with the intended chassis that Derek and Keith and had drawn up.

They decided to make their car a three-wheeler to get around the suspension issue. They used the Renault 6’s front suspension complete with its torsion bar and rather than use two torsion bars at the rear they opted for a rear coil-over damper and Renault 6 mated to their own fabricated radius arm.

Keith is recorded as saying that the bodyshape conundrum was made much easier with a three-wheeler concept and more or less designed itself although had definite influences of Morgan F-Type and BSA. The body was an intriguing, layered affair with a wood frame and then plywood encased in aluminium. 18swg aluminium was used for the grille surround, boot, bonnet and rear deck. The front cycle wings were made from GRP.

The donor car’s 1100cc engine was pressed into service and dark blue cellulose was applied to the body in preparation for the car’s debut at the Cheshire Kit Car show at Capesthorne Hall in Siddington in late May 1986.

Derek and Keith were not ready for the reaction that greeted their little car. They were suitably encouraged to go into part-time production using the company name D.R.K Kits (with the name being the first initial of Derek (Callister), Robert (Callister) and Keith (Hamer).

Although busy running his busy Callister & Roscoe business with his two partners, Bob was very involved with the car project from a very early stage and was an adviser, welder, and body specialist, not to mention financier!

For production versions, a decision was made to add 1in to the width, height and length while the body was slightly re-profiled. Donor choice was expanded with Renaults 4 and 5, as well as 6, being suitable. This, in turn, meant that engine choice was wide from 845cc right up to 1300cc Gordini turbo unit.

The cars were built to order with kits available from £2400 (approximately the equivalent of £4917, today) although much of the work was done for the customer at the workshop.

In 1990, things changed. Bob Callister sold his business and with his brother – and one of his erstwhile Callister & Roscoe business partners – Brian, they decided to make the DRK a full-time business. They had the time to introduce some gentle developments and although still built to order they tailored each car to its customer.

Ideally, customers shipped their Renault donor parts to Bob and Brian and they checked, modified and refurbished them and fitted them to the DRK chassis, a beautifully made, jewel-like thing, which was supplied painted with the body fitted and painted in cellulose in whatever colour the customer required.

All that was left for the customer to do was fit the engine, gearbox and water and brake pipes, while all trim parts were also installed (the dash could be leather cloth or veneer) in a colourway of the customer’s choice.

The DRK was a beautiful three-wheeler that drove very nicely, was rattle-free and felt solidly built. Bob and Brian decided to retire in 1998 by which time 59 DRKs had been built.

DRK Kits 1986-98

Approx 59 made