Tony Divey: Norfolk engineer invented the Triking which was sold around the world
- Credit: Archant
A remarkable three-wheeler invented in a Norfolk workshop by engineer and designer, Tony Divey, who has died aged 82, sold around the world.
His creation, the Triking, which was powered by a Motor Guzzi 850cc motorbike engine, was made at Wymondham in 1978.
Over the next quarter of a century, this cross between a motorbike and a car was made in his extended garage at Marlingford, near Norwich. After the launch of his first model, he soon had orders for 10 more.
By 1996, he had made more than 125 Trikings, which had also impressed a former F1 world champion, Mario Andretti, and the head of Lotus, the late Colin Chapman. Models, which then cost from £14,000, were despatched to buyers in Norway, Australia, Hong Kong and the Middle East.
Antony Rex Divey, always known as Tony, was born in Dartford on October 28, 1930, and was the oldest child of two. Aged 13, he had managed to get a full-time job in a cycle shop when he should have been at school. He became a national cycling champion, notably in time-trials and some of his records remained until the 1970s. He also trained with the 1948 Olympic team for the London games and was a reserve.
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After serving in the Army, including a posting to Hong Kong, he managed to stay in the saddle as much as possible. On his return to Britain, he trained as an engineer with Dorman Diesels.
Having married Diane in 1959, they moved from Stoke-on- Trent with their four children to Norfolk in 1968. He took up the position of designer and technical illustrator at Lotus, which had moved from Cheshunt, Buckinghamshire, to Hethel, near Wymondham. His superbly detailed cutaway drawings of 1960s and 1970s Lotus F1 and road cars were much prized. In the early 1970s, the freelance technical author, illustrator and draughtsman worked on a number of projects in the motor industry, including the DeLorean. He was also involved in the Airbus A303 and went to the United States to work on the space shuttle and later in Germany with Porsche and Dornier.
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The first Triking was made by Formula Fabrications, run by two ex-Team Lotus metalworkers, who made the chassis to Mr Divey's specifications. He had originally wanted a three-wheeler Morgan, but they had become too rare and expensive. He spent 10 months planning his dream machine, which became a reality in August 1978. He drove it to Hethel to show it to his former employer. When Mario Andretti emerged from the office, he jumped into it and went for a test drive, as did Colin Chapman. They were both very impressed. Although it turned plenty of heads, the red three-wheeler was not a toy. 'It's lovely in good weather and I had it going over 100mph on a test track,' Mr Divey said. It drove like a plane, sounded like a motorbike and behaved just like an ordinary car.
Mr Divey's health declined over the past 10 years and although the business was wound down, a highlight was the 30th anniversary celebration when fans staged rallies and events.
His family was delighted that former F1 champion Mario Andretti sent a personal message of condolence.
Mr Divey leaves four children, twins Rex and Peter, Richard and Rebecca, and three grandchildren and partner, Anita.
A funeral service will be held at Earlham Crematorium on Friday, October 18, at 3.45pm. A convoy, including a Triking, will leave the Marlingford Bell at 3.15pm.