Simon's DKR Capella 175cc
Classic Scooterist|December 2019 - January 2020
It’s probably fair to say that in the 1950s most British scooters were well short of the styling and panache of their Latin rivals, but this all changed in 1960 with the launch of the DKR Capella - a sleek Villiers-powered two-stroke which period road testers described as being ‘the most beautiful small-wheeler ever made by a British manufacturer’.
Andy Westlake

Founded by three industrialists, BarryDay, Noah Robinson and Cyril Kieft –hence the name – DKR was a small go-ahead company which between 1957 and 1966 turned out a range of well made, quirkily styled scooters in 150 to 200cc capacities, with the Capella their best seller.

Production records are scant, but it’s reckoned that in their six years of manufacture around 2,000 rolled off the production lines at Pendeford Airport in Wolverhampton before falling sales and increased foreign competition meant that the Midlands manufacturer went out of business in 1966. However, with six decades of production on models they are now highly prized amongst scooter aficionados. In researching the history of the Capella, I was able to track down Ivan Bowen, a man who for three years in the early Sixties worked on the DKR production line, so it’s quite possible he actually made the same machine all those years ago. He takes up the story.

“This was in the days when there was plenty of work and on leaving school I got a job at the big Villiers factory on engine assembly. After a while I moved on to Britool, but was only there for a couple of weeks. Following a strike I got to hear about a job going at the DKR factory in nearby Wolverhampton. I was put on the production line, but the title is a bit far-fetched because in total there were only about 10 people working there and the ‘construction team’ consisted of just three of us – Ron, Chris Evans and me. The whole factory space consisted of two offices and three workshops, one of which was where a girl made the seats and put the rubber edging on the panels; our production line and another very small workshop were where any repairs were carried out. It wasn’t very big and during some grim winters it was extremely cold and our only source of heat was a cast-iron wood-burning stove.

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