Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's a What?

Is it an MGA? Austin Healey? AC Ace?

Nope, its a Swallow Doretti - one of the prettiest cars you've never heard of.
The Swallow Doretti was a short-lived effort to fill a market niche between the Triumph TR2 and the Jaguar XK120. The target market was the United States where all manner of sports cars were being snapped up. Production of the Doretti was by the strangely-named Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Ltd, a subsidiary of the giant British company Tube Investments Group. This business was indeed a descendant of the original Swallow Sidecar Company founded by William Lyons and William Walmsley in 1921 from which SS Cars and later Jaguar Cars evolved.

A gentleman named Frank Rainbow was responsible for the original design and production engineering of the Doretti which only required nine months to complete the first prototype. The frame of the Doretti is a rigid tubular chassis frame.The side members consist of two 3" diameter chrome-moly steel tubes reinforced with strengthening plates.The car was powered by Triumph TR2 running gear.

After the introduction of the Swallow Doretti, a Mark II version of the car named the Sabre (not to be confused with the Reliant Sabre) was begun. But early in 1955 an unexpected decision by Tube Investments brought the entire Swallow Doretti project to a halt. Production ceased and the Sabre development was shelved.

Today, the Swallow Doretti has a small but enthusiastic following, especially in light of the fact that only 276 Dorettis were built.

Doretti name? It was derived from Dorothy Deen one of the founders of car accessory manufacturer Cal Specialties. The firm's partners took the first three letters of Deen's first name and developed an "Italian" version to use on the accessory line. She and her partners imported the Swallow Doretti and distributed Triumph cars in the western half of the US.

If you see a Swallow Doretti in the wild, consider yourself fortunate.

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