Swallow Doretti Newsletter









  October 2010  No.245  


Swallow Doretti In August, Chassis No.1055 was listed be sold at the Russo and Steele classic car auction in Monterey. I do not know how much the starting bid will be but for an enthusiast it looks like an attractive car. While at the TR Euro meeting last year Geoff Mansfield met Dieter Kraemer owner of Ch.1042 who was looking for 'baby' Tenax fasteners. Geoff was able send him some used items and in return Dieter supplied him with some door handle 'escutcheons'. Dieter who has just bought another Doretti, Ch.1181 will be at the Euro meeting next month in North Yorkshire and wishes to obtain a set of wing mouldings.

I recently received some old pictures of a Mark II Doretti (Sabre), 181 YNY, (Ch.10001), from Geoff Mansfield who met up with Stephen Mathews, a former owner of the car, on the way home from Le Mans. Stephen bought the red 181 YNY for 375 when he was a university student. A motivating factor in the purchase was that his father had worked at Walsall Airport for Reynolds Tube and the Tube Investments Group, and Stephen himself had been born in Walsall in 1953. His father is also reported to have worked with Frank Rainbow on the design of the Doretti chassis. During the time that Stephen owned the car he says that he virtually rebuilt it.

Swallow Doretti Ownership of the car then passed to Tony Hickling of Swindon, West Midlands for a short while. At this time the car was dark blue in colour, had wire wheels and was fitted with aero-screens. In 1988 Phil Rudge, a freelance photographer, acquired 181 YNY and wrote about his experiences with the car in Classic & Sportscar magazine. Prior to buying 181 YNY, Phil had owned a Mark I Doretti and said that the Sabre was "certainly an improvement on the Mark I, particularly in its boot size, front disc brakes and generally more relaxed character." As far as Phil could recall, he bought the car from a guy in the Midlands, possibly Tony Hickling. There was no hood on the car and many journeys were done in the pouring rain because the Doretti was his only form of transport at the time. He concluded, "I wish I still had the Doretti, but that's life."

181 YNY is one of those cars whose early history is very unclear. Chassis No.10001 is reported to have been built as a Mark II (Sabre) for Standard-Triumph in 1954 and was first registered in 1961 as BOB 123. Initially the car seems to have had full Mark II bodywork and a de Dion rear axle. At some point before 1965 the car was involved in an accident and the front panels replaced with a Mark I shroud and wings. The car then seems to have spent some time in South Wales during the mid-60s in the hands of Bob Holmes. Although I have had past contact with Tom Lewis, the last reported owner since 1990, no recent information has come to light.

Tom Householder has been in contact to ask if a Doretti owner living in the Walsall area would be willing to liase with a local historian. He also comments on an image of Chassis No.1043 posted by Lyza Danger Gardner on her website. Tom says the car was sold circa 1974 by Al Stephens of Forest Grove, Oregon and he believes it was bought by a dealer in Portland and sold to Lyza's father. The current whereabouts of Ch.1043 is unknown. In the mid-fifties, Al Stephens also owned another Doretti, which he sold in southern Texas circa 1970 and he has also been the owner of Ch.1007.

One of the most noticeable traits of a Doretti owner is his or her willingness to personalise their car, consequently I cannot ever recall seeing an original car. Every car seems to have had something added, modified, or just removed because the owner thought it would improve the car. I have never seen two Dorettis alike, every car is distinctive and a celebration of individuality over conformity.

Finally If the world is truly round, how do you explain all the people living on the edge ?


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