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1954 Swallow Doretti

Interesting Period Racing History. Comprehensively Restored. Absolutely one of the Best in Existence!

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VIN 1020
Exterior Color Blue
Interior Color Biscuit Leather
Mileage 9585 Miles TMU
Engine 2.0 Liter Inline 4-Cylinder no. TS.14815E
Transmission 4-Speed
Status Sold
Stock FJ2013


1954 Swallow Doretti
s/n 1020, Engine no. S14815E
Blue with Biscuit Leather

The Swallow Doretti was designed and produced by the Swallow Side Car Company, founded by William Walmsley and William Lyons in 1922. In 1933 the automobile portion of the company became S.S. Cars Limited, later to evolve into Jaguar Cars Limited. In 1952, the parent company, Tube Investments, experiencing growth as an automotive parts supplier, determined that Swallow Coachbuilding could meet the growing American market demand for a new sports car. Interest was expanding in the UK as well, as seen in the early success of the Austin Healey and the Triumph TR-2. Based around a tubular Reynolds 531 Cromolly ladder chassis, the Doretti design featured a handsome Italian-influenced aluminum body with a large Ferrari-style front grill, sweeping front fenders and gently bobbed, distinctly British rear end. The name Doretti was inspired by American sales distributors Dorothy Dean and Arthur Anderson or Cal Sales Inc., where the Dorettis were first distributed. The Italian sounding name, was thought to assist in the marketing of these sporting new convertibles.

When first released, performance proved to be quite brisk, with a top speed of over 100mph when tested by the British magazine “The Motor” in 1954. 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.

Swallow delivered a total of 276 units when, in 1955, history has it, Jaguar, witnessing sales competition against their XK roadsters, pressured the company with an ultimatum: if they continued to market a rival sports car to the XK 120, Jaguar would go elsewhere for the many components Swallow supplied. Swallow complied, ceasing production that year.

This early production Swallow-Doretti # 1020 was the 20th of approximately 276 cars built, 178 of which are known to exist today. Records show this car was delivered new to Hal Daunis in Denver, Colorado on September 17, 1954. Throughout the fifties, Daunis successfully raced the car in SCCA events in the Rocky Mountain region before moving first to Whittier, California and then to Manhattan Beach. In 1957, given the amount of use and perhaps due to race fatigue Daunis replaced the original engine. The car was subsequently restored and shown at the 1964 Pebble Beach Concours. In 1973, Tom Haslett of Woodland Hills, California purchased the car, driving it for several years before parking it. Ownership changed twice in rapid succession before ending up, in 1991, with Frank Crowe in Santa Barbara California. Mr. Crowe intended to restore the car, but as is the case with matters like these, the car remained once again in storage. With the last known registration of 1977, and stored since 1985, the current owner purchased the car from Frank Crowe in 2012. Randy Reed of Antique Auto Restoration in Seaside, California began a comprehensive restoration resulting in the car seen here. Mr. Reed had completed a previous Doretti project and thus was an excellent candidate to ensure an authentic restoration, resulting in the car seen here.

The overall condition of this car is simply beautiful. The restoration was performed to a very high standard and although only a few years have passed since it was completed, the quality and finish continues to hold up. The paint is like glass with excellent gloss throughout and wonderful depth and coverage. All bright-work has been properly polished and presents very nicely throughout the car. The grille slats reveal only minor polishing flaws deep inside the grille opening. Emblems and body trim are very well presented. The stainless front fender piping has been beautifully contoured to the body and all seams are very well finished.

The painted wire wheels are nicely finished with correct silver paint, showing only minor evidence of road use. The windscreen is in very nice shape with excellent clarity.

The interior is an absolute delight of British elegance with a fine array of beautifully detailed instruments appearing better than new. Color and clarity of the numbers, dials, and needles are first rate. The biscuit hued interior is very nicely trimmed and has started to show mild toning on the seating surfaces, door uppers and a few other areas. This gentle patina adds to the mystique of the interior, softening it just a bit to create an inviting feel. Seats remain in fine shape, door panels are clean and offer ample pocket space for driving gloves and maps. Carpeting is in very nice shape as well and there is no evidence of damage or excessive wear to the remaining interior surfaces. The doors, hood, and trunk all fit very well considering the handmade nature of these cars, obviously improved during restoration.

Under the hood, the engine compartment has been treated to correct factory finishes typical of the period, but here again, done with fastidious detail afforded to proper fasteners, fittings, and wiring to complete this very authentic British sports car. The engine shows very mild areas of use since the restoration was completed. Underneath the car, the restoration details continue to inspire the confidence shown in the fit and finish throughout the car. Care has been given to proper fittings and finishes again consistent with Swallow manufacturing methods and practices, with only mild deviations allowed for modern materials and finishes.

A delightfully drivable car, this Doretti was restored with show in mind, but remains a very usable car. The engine comes to life quickly and responds very easily to acceleration as you go through the gears. Braking is only slightly heavy on higher speed stops, typical of the technology of this period. The ride is surprisingly firm but comfortable and corners are easily managed without hesitation. Shifting is smooth and effortless, again due in part to the thoughtful restoration given to this fine car. The car is sold with a complete set of records documenting the restoration in detail, citing both labor and parts as well as associated costs.

Rare, historically important, in part due to Jaguar heritage, and beautifully made, it would be hard to find a finer restored Swallow Doretti in existence today. Recently, Swallow Dorettis have proved eligible for and have been accepted to the Mille Miglia Retrospect event, making them one of the most cost effective entries to what is almost certainly the most prestigious road rally event anywhere on the globe. Event eligible and ready to show, this beautiful example remains a handsome rarity, primed to astonish even the most knowledgeable car experts on any show field or rally line up.


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

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