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Frank Rainbow

Born in 1910, Frank Rainbow served his apprenticeship with the Bristol Omnibus Company, then joined Bristol Aircraft in 1934. By 1946 he began to feel that his potential was not being fully exploited and he left to join Tube Investments as a trouble-shooter, liasing between fifty or so companies. Two of the organisations within the combine were Helliwells Ltd and a subsidiary, the Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Ltd. It was at this time Frank first came together with Eric Sanders their joint managing director, and Frank's design for a scooter went into production. Eventually, over 2000 Swallow Gadabout motor scooters were produced between 1946 and 1951.

Frank Rainbow

In the summer of 1952 Eric Sanders went to California to meet with Arthur Andersen of the Rome Cable Corporation to discuss the production of welded steel tubing. However, the discussions turned to a project on which Frank was working. This project to manufacture car bodies at a plant in South Wales triggered off a long felt desire in Andersen to have a sports car produced specifically for sale in the USA. Sanders was a close friend of Sir John Black of Standard Triumph so it is not difficult to imagine that Triumph was to provide the running gear for a proposed sports car, and that Frank Rainbow should design it. Work was begun on the car in January 1953,and Frank was given a free hand, except for the proviso that the first car had to be completed in nine months - and he delivered on time. When exhibited at the 1954 Motor Show the new sports car named the Swallow Doretti was called the most beautiful car on display and Frank described as a genius.

The Doretti sold well and about 280 cars were built between 1954 and 1955 with a workforce, which never exceeded eighteen people, including design and office staff. Frank still had his liaison duties with the TI Group, but he managed to design and build two much improved Mark II versions of the Doretti, named the Sabre.

Production of the Doretti was halted when Jaguar gave the TI Group an ultimatum; if they continued to market a rival sportscar to the XK 120, Jaguar would go elsewhere for the many components TI supplied. Frank then went to Standard Triumph to head a development team until, in 1960 he left to take over the family firm, Teesdale Tools Ltd, which made ground support equipment for most of the worlds major airlines.

Although he officially retired at seventy he never stopped designing and inventing and was building an advanced prototype sports car, which promised exceptional performance and outstanding road holding.

Frank Rainbow died on the 21st of May 1990, just one month before his 80th birthday.

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Ken Yankey © 2002-18
E-mail: ken@doretti.co.uk