Bernd Amling, a 43-year old doctor from Eibelstad, Germany has been driving Triumphs since 1983 when he bought a TR6 which was replaced in 1997 with a TR5. However he had never heard of a Swallow Doretti until he noticed one at the 2000 International TR-Weekend in Malvern.
In 2003 he was lucky to find two Dorettis which had been imported to Germany from California. The collector hadn't found the time to restore them and Amling was able to buy one of the cars, the one in the worst condition.
The car was in a state not untypical for classic cars from the US - the Triumph TR2, 4-cylinder engine had been replaced with a large block Buick V8 complete with its automatic gear box. This work had been done in a rough and ready fashion - bits removed, sawn out and the frame hammered into shape. Without the opportunity of using the second Doretti as a guide, Amling would have struggled to restore his Doretti. There was no rust on the chassis, which isn't surprising because the chassis is made of chrome-molybdenum-steel.
The bodywork was also easy to restore. The aluminium bodywork panels had been screwed onto the steel inner frame so Amling was able to take it apart easily, with just a few tools. The feared "contact corrosion" was only to be found in a few places. Swallow had managed to keep the two metals surprisingly isolated from each other. Once the paint had been removed, only the rear shroud was found to have corrosion. There were however quite a few dents in the bodywork which the American owner had tried to conceal by using a nail to make hundreds of holes in the panels and then used lots of filler to re-shape it.
The repairs to the bodywork was left to experts in Wurzburg. It was more expensive than in England but Amling was able to go there every week and see how the work was progressing. Only the tailgate couldn't be restored. The hinge broke off, plus there were a lot of holes put in it for registration plates and an extra handle had been added.
A lot of major bodywork repair was needed at the front of the car. The metal had been pushed in following an accident and the original grille had been replaced with some perforated metal. Amling was able to order a reproduction grille from America but it didn't fit at all. Parts of it had to be completely re-made.
In the end, the bodywork took over 280 hours. To get it absolutely perfect would have taken 200 hours more. Amling decided to call it a day when he realised that those who had worked on the car before hadn't been very precise - the right-hand door is one centimetre shorter than the left-hand door.
In the original Doretti sales brochure, the only colours listed are red, blue, green and white, but because the original colour of No.1053 could not be determined, Amling chose Mercedes Deep Blue (No. L904) as the paint colour. Strips of waxed fabric now separate the newly repainted aluminium bodywork from the steel frame.
Because the engine came from Standard-Triumph, it wasn't difficult for Amling to obtain parts and rebuild the TR4 engine had been with the Doretti when he bought it. New pistons and liners were fitted, and the SU carburetors overhauled. An "overdrive" gearbox which he had stored in his attic was added to the Doretti. And finally to make sure that the lights and windscreen wipers would both work at the same time in rain, he added an alternator.
…Translated from an article by Thomas Wirth in "Motor Klassik"