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1955 Swallow Doretti

Recent High Caliber Restoration. Shown at Pebble Beach in 2011. Period Competition History!

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VIN 1055
Exterior Color Primrose
Interior Color Two-Tone Beige Leather
Mileage 69276 Miles
Engine 2.0 Litre Inline 4-Cylinder no. CT1092E
Transmission 4-Speed
Status Sold
Stock FJ1804


1954 Swallow Doretti
s/n 1055, Engine no. CT1092E
Primrose with Two-Tone Beige Leather

The Swallow Doretti was designed and produced by the Swallow Side Car Company, founded by William Walmsley and William Lions in 1922. In 1933 the automobile portion of the company became S.S. Cars Limited, which later became Jaguar. The first Doretti Swallow was designed in 1953 and manufactured in 1954 by Swallow Coachbuilding Company at the Walsall Airport in England. Swallow Coachbuilding Co. was purchased by Tube Investments (a supplier of automotive components). Swallow Engineer Frank Rainbow designed the Doretti’s aluminum body with input from American sales distributor Dorothy Dean and Arthur Anderson. Dean and Anderson owned Cal Sales Inc, where the Dorettis were first distributed in California. Dorothy Dean was responsible for creating the Italian sounding name (Doretti), which was thought to assist in the marketing of these sporting new convertibles.

Based around tubular Reynolds 531 Cromolly ladder chassis, clothed in an attractive and lightweight alloy body, and employing Triumph TR2 driveline, the Swallow Doretti strikes an outstanding blend of rarity and user-friendly, with comparatively easy to service components. Performance proved to be quite brisk, with a top speed of over 100mph when tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1954. Dorettis were first raced in 1954 in Santa Barbara and March Field. In 1955 Dorettis raced in Santa Barbara, Hansen Dam, Torrey Pines, Glendale, Sacramento, Elkart Lake, Walkins Glen, and Pebble Beach. Max Balchowsky of Ol’Yaller fame reworked six Dorettis with GM based V-8s producing almost 300 horsepower for racing. Doretti racing provenance was not limited to American shores, also competing at Goodwood, Silverstone, and even in the Carrera Panamericana road race!

Production of the Doretti was halted in 1955 when Jaguar gave the Tube Investments Group an ultimatum: if they continued to market a rival sports car to the XK 120, Jaguar would go elsewhere for the many components Tube Investments supplied. In total, just 276 were competed making them exceedingly rare finds. Just 74 are known to exist worldwide today.

This particular Swallow Doretti, s/n 1055, was leased to Harvey M. Mayer, who raced it in the 1955 running of the Cypress Point races at Pebble Beach. Period photos show Harvey Mayer in a spirited slide, ironically just ahead of a Jaguar XK 120 roadster. After the car’s period racing history, it passed through the second owner Leo Welch of Watsonville, California before being acquired by the current custodian and third owner in a solid, restorable state.

Shortly thereafter, Randy Reed at Antique Auto Restoration- well known for his Pebble Beach works- was contracted to perform a no expense spared restoration to the highest standards. The restoration was a body-off endeavor which included virtually every aspect of the car. The car was repainted, reupholstered, and re-chromed throughout. The frame and undercarriage were repainted and fully detailed to “to eat off of” standards, as was the engine bay. The painted wire wheels were also restored, and fitted with new Dunlop L series tires. The correct Lucas headlamps and driving lamps were restored, as was the beautiful Doretti emblem on the nose. New canvas top and top boot material were fitted in beige to match the interior. The suspension, brake, and steering systems were also included in the restoration work, as was the rear end. The transmission was opened, inspected, and serviced. The floor and the inner fender wells were attended to as necessary. The engine was rebuilt with new rings, bearings, guides, values, cam, lifters, water and oil pump. The crank assembly (rods, pistons and flywheel were them balance and then meticulously assembled. All engine ancillaries were serviced or rebuilt as needed. The restoration work was concluded in 2008.

The end result of these efforts is nothing short of spectacular, and the car has been subsequently invited to participate in several of the world’s premier concours venues. In 2008, s/n 1055 was displayed at The Quail, A Motorsport Gathering, and in 2010 at the Carmel by the sea concours where Andy Reid commented about this Doretti in his article “Delicious Carmel” in the January edition of Classics Motorsports pg.27 issue 148. In his article He mentioned this year’s high lights included a 289 Shelby Cobra, a 410 Ferrari Super America, and several Porsche 356’s. “Their stand out favorite was this off white Swallow Doretti in immaculate condition.” Following these outings; the Swallow Doretti was invited to participate in the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours, returning to the peninsular where it competed fifty five years earlier with Harvey Mayer at the wheel. The car enjoyed a strong showing among stiff competition of extremely valuable and beautifully presented autos.

The car has seen only fair weather road miles since the restoration, and remains in show ready, near perfect condition throughout. It runs and drives strong, with all systems operating properly, as would be expected of a fully restored car. Driver ergonomics on the Swallow Doretti are exceptional when compared to other English cars of the era, and this example comfortably accommodates a tall American, an important point when considering a car for long distance tour events.

Produced in 1954, this Doretti is eligible for virtually all of the premier North American rally events, as well as many in Europe. Included with the sale of the car are a set of side curtains, which fit well, sure to be helpful inclement weather.

Included with the car are detailed restoration invoices, and a historical summary in digital and printed form. The car retains its California black license plates, and is titled to the engine number.

s/n 1055, with its recent high caliber restoration and Pebble Beach success, along with its period competition history, is likely among the very best Swallow Dorettis anywhere in the world. The restoration itself could not be duplicated for the asking price, and the growing number of concours, rally, and race events for which it is eligible makes this car both an exciting and rational purchase.


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Fantasy Junction +1 510 653 7555 Emeryville, California 94608 USA

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