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Downton Engineering Works Ltd - A Brief History

Originally formed at the end of the 19th century as an agricultural engineering business, in the ancient Wiltshire town of Downton just south of Salisbury, Downton Engineering Works developed into a small local motor garage and was bought in 1947 by Daniel and Veronica ‘Bunty’ Richmond.

For the next few years the Richmonds continued to serve the needs of local car owners, but also began to attract a new clientel for servicing and engineering services on much more exotic machinery, from Bentleys and Lagondas to Bugattis and Rolls Royces.

Whilst possibly not typical automotive dealers of the period, the couple had a strong interest in cars and Daniel, along with enjoying the superb fishing available in the areas clear fast-flowing rivers, was a keen participant in local motor-sport events, competing in a variety of different vehicles. Bunty was later known to be particularly proud of her Ferrari 250GT.

The 1950’s saw Downton producing parts and kits to improve performance on a whole range of everyday cars, although there developed a clear bias towards the BMC A-series power unit, which only grew stronger with the release of the new Austin Seven Mini. The Richmond’s own tuned 1959 Mini, UHR850, is now housed at the Gaydon Motor Museum.

Daniel Richmond in UHR 850 (400x250)

Daniel Richmond competing in UHR 850

Re-launched in the early 1990’s, Downton continued to offer a range of tuning products to Mini enthusiasts, utilising the skills of many of the original employees, while building a number of limited edition cars during the last days of Rover Mini production. Unique and bespoke customer conversions on new and used chassis continued and with the dawn of the new millennium Downton had become well known within the classic car world.

Downton continue to offer products, services and sales to modern and classic car enthusiasts, and will keep building on the company values established in the 50’s and 60’s when a wide variety of vehicles were catered for.

Allard MGT850 Veronica Richmond (small)

Bunty Richmond, Prescott Hill 11th August 1955. Allard J2X

With competition success in the early 1960’s for Mini Coopers running modified Downton cylinder heads and other tuning components, Daniel was offered a lucrative consultancy contract with BMC. Downton was in its heyday, becoming very much larger as a company, while the BMC Competitions Department recorded a string of wins throughout the late 1960’s.

The 70’s bought a number of changes to the UK motor industry and Downton were not immune, particularly with the loss of the lucrative BMC contract. Employees started to leave and the Richmond’s became less interested in the business. Then, in 1974, Daniel died prematurely and Bunty entered a cycle of decline that resulted in her suicide a couple of year later; with the result that the company doors were closed.

Clubsport (400x250)

1990’s Limited Edition Downton Clubsport

342C Block




342C Block

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