181 YNY a Mark II Doretti, is reported to have been built in 1954 for Standard-Triumph and was first registered as BOB 123 in 1961. It is said to have been used by Triumph as a test vehicle, possibly for different set-ups because it was easier to modify than the then current TRs and initally the car had a de Dion rear axle.
At some point in its early life the dark blue car was badly damaged in a crash and had the front-end repaired with Mark I wings and radiator grille.
The July 1961 issue Motorsport magazine carried a classified advertisment for a Colorado Red unregistered Doretti Sabre, built on the last prototype chassis regardless of price. The car was fiited with a brand new TR3 motor and an overdrive gearbox; a de Dion rear axle; wire wheels and disc brakes. Offers were invited by Tony Johnson of 41 St Agnes Road, Birmingham 13.
Owner Bob Holmes.
Stephen Matthews was a university student reading engineering at RMCS Shrivenham when he bought the Mark II Doretti in Cardiff for £375. Significant motivating factors in the purchase, was that his father, Bernard Matthews, had worked with Frank Rainbow and Stephen himself had been born in Walsall in 1953. Bernard Matthews, was a young metallurgist working for Accles & Pollock who was transferred to Walsall Airport and thoroughly enjoyed working in a small group. From around 1948 for about six years he worked to improve the chassis materials and heat/work treatment for the Gadabout and then the Doretti. When Doretti production was wound up in 1955, Bernard ran the Laboratory at another TI Group subsidary, Talbot-Stead in Walsall, was then detached to the Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell, returning to be the Production Director at Talbot-Stead and then finally Technical Director at Tube Investments.
Frank Rainbow and Bernard Matthews,in brown shirt.
Photo taken at the TR Register National Rally, Donington. July 1978
When Stephen acquired No. 10001 its registration number had already been changed to 181 YNY and it was
painted red. The partially stripped vehicle had been parked up for a long time, possibily five years and
the engine just managed to run.
As usual in most restorations the biggest issue was money or rather the lack of it but Stephen restored
181 YNY as best he could on a junior Army Officer's salary. Thankfully most of the dismantled parts
were mainly present.
The car was very tired and mechanically worn out and Stephen virtually rebuilt the car, one component at a
time. After the mechanical work was completed the car was painted Dark Blue as close to the original colour
Even then Stephen was very keen on originality and the Mk1 front wings issue didn't come to light until
Frank Rainbow saw the car at the TR Register National Rally in Donington in July 1978 for the first time.
When Stephen was was posted to Germany in February 1981 he unfortunately had to sell the car and 181 YNY went to auction at Crystal Palace.
Ownership of the car passed to Tony Hickling of Swindon, West Midlands for a short while and at this time the car was Dark Blue and had wire wheels and aero-screens.
Owner Phil Rudge, a freelance photographer who 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, particulary in its boot size, front disc brakes and generally more relaxed character."
1990 - present
The current owner of 181 YNY is reported to have had the engine rebuilt and servos fitted to both brake and clutch.