181 YNY is a Mark II Doretti, reported to have been built in 1954 for Standard-Triumph and was first registered in Birmingham as BOB 123 in 1961. This Doretti 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 car was badly damaged in an accident and had the front-end repaired with Mark I wings and radiator grille.
(Photo: Phil Rudge)
The July 1961 issue of 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 fitted 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.
Paul Murphy bought the red Doretti registered as BOB 123, with Mark I front wings, from a car dealer in City Road, Cardiff.
In 2018, Paul Murphy's daughter, Patricia talked with her father, (now 87 years old)
about some of their memories of "Bob".
Paul recalls a problem with the back wheels "snatching", so he took it back to the dealer and apparently the wrong diff had been installed and thinks an Jaguar E-type diff was fitted, (which the dealer said was the correct one). Also remembered is that the exhaust dropped off when they were trying to get the car up onto the ramp.
There were also problems with the roof not engaging and locking home at the front where it met the windscreen. Patricia vividly remembers, my Mum, my tiny sister and me hanging on to the roof (that was up), to stop it from blowing away on the motorway. Another trip back to the dealer and they said "Bob" needed a new windscreen. They couldn't get the part and Dad eventually sold "Bob" back to the dealer due to the difficulties in sourcing parts.
Despite all the problems, Dad was really sad to see the Doretti go (as were we all). It's always been his favourite car and we all remember "Bob" with very, very, fond memories. Even my sister, who must have been 3 or 4 years old at the time, remembers "Bob". She says she remembers the smell of petrol and leather and the low booming engine. Dad used the car daily to take me to school (a 16 mile round trip). It was awesome.!!
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. (Photo on right: Stephen Matthews in 181 YNY, circa 1976)
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.
When Stephen Matthews acquired Chassis 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.
Owner: Tony Hickling of Swindon, West Midlands. 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.