Newsletter No. 9 - March 2002
Doretti owners and members of the TR Register are extremely helpful in passing on information and sending me all kinds of interesting material.
For example P.J. Osmond of Hockley Heath recently sent me a newspaper cutting from the Solihull News that featured Monkspath Garage, the Shirley sportscar and also mentioned the Swallow Doretti.
Another example of assistance is that of Derek Graham the TR6 Registrar who came across a Swallow Doretti special while researching in the Coventry Museum of Transport records. The Doretti first registered in 1957 had the chassis number SD-1820C was assigned the index mark THP 500 and had Engine No. TS13651ED installed.
Andries and Martijn Kuipers of the Netherlands, owners of Chassis No. 1068, have sent me pictures and a report about the rebuild of their Doretti. After being off the road since 1965 the LHD car was bought in 1994 by the Kuipers as a restoration project. It is probable that the car, which had been registered in Los Angeles, would have been sold new by Cal Sales the western US Doretti distributor. There was an American transmission in the car but no engine, an incorrect front bumper was fitted and some minor parts were missing. From the modifications made to the bulkhead, inner-wings, chassis and bonnet Martijn is convinced that this car is one of Max Balchowsky’s V-8 conversions. When various features of the car are compared with contemporary hot-rod magazine pictures there are great similarities so I’m inclined to agree with him. Chassis No. 1068 was originally painted black and the trim was red with black piping. The hood and tonneau were tan with back piping while the vinyl side-screens were tan with no piping. No heater was fitted and there were no demister vents on the dash. Painted 48-spoke wire wheels seemed to be original.
Restoration of the car began with it being completely dismantled. The bulkhead was re-built, new floors and gearbox tunnel fabricated then the whole inner body assembled on the chassis. A new unused LHD steering column, supplied by Jim Williams, was fitted to replace the original column damaged by being welded to the LH turret. This was obviously an attempt to gain more clearance for the V-8 engine. The aluminium bodywork was re-fettled and the heavily modified bonnet exchanged for a conventional item.
It was decided to use a fast road TR4 engine, a TR4 gearbox with overdrive and also a TR4 rear-axle fitted with alloy brake drums. Disc brakes on wide hubs at the front together with lowered springs and an anti-roll bar give the car a better appearance. Wheels are now 60-spoke chrome with stainless steel spokes. The car is finished in black and has a red leather interior with black piping. Hood, long and short tonneau and the side-screens have been made to original patterns in tan vinyde with no contrasting piping. If anyone has details about the history of No. 1068 in the USA or details of any other ex-Max Balchowsy Doretti, I would certainly appreciate the information.
Rainbow’s End is the title of a four-page article by Anthony Pritchard published in the January 2002 issue of Automobile magazine. The piece does not contain any new information or pictures but nevertheless it is a pretty accurate Doretti history. It’s worth trying to get hold of a copy if you can.
John Rummery who is keeping track of all things Doretti in New Zealand, has recently reminded me that a Doretti appears in a movie of Neville Shute’s novel On the Beach. There are a couple of scenes in which Fred Astaire, driving what looks like a Buckler, is racing around a track closely followed by a Doretti.
With spring on the way it’s time to be thinking about getting the car from under its cover and preparing for another season’s activities. An event organised by the Gordon-Keeble Owners’ Club is the British Sportscar Day. This year it has been relocated to Old Warden Aerodrome, near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire and will take place on Sunday 7th July 2002.
Don’t forget that if you would like your Doretti featured on the website, you can send pictures and information to me at E-mail:
... Ken Yankey
If you have any comments or suggestions about the Swallow Doretti Page, or news and/or information that you want to
pass on to me or other Doretti owners then please e-mail me at
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