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Featured in the UK Motoring Directory
  December 2005    No.24 Equipo Doretti
 

 

The August/September 2005 issue of the German car magazine British Classic Cars featured an excellent three-page article about the restoration of Chassis No.1214 by Erwin Burtscher of Bregenz, Austria. A light blue, right-hand drive car with chrome wire-wheels it has a dark blue interior and hood. With only a picture and no further information, the car with registration number B13-EYC, had previously been listed in my records as unidentified.

Maurice Ford brought RRH 389 (chassis no.1098) his newly rebuilt Doretti to the International Weekend at Malvern for its first long journey in the very inclement weather on the Sunday. Because of the weather, or at least my reluctance to become soaked through, I did not get the opportunity to get a good look at the car. Russell Crawford, Peter Lockley and Bernd Amling (from Eibeltadt, Germany), also braved the rain.

I first met Bernd at the 50th anniversary meeting last year where he proved to be very persistent in insisting that he needed a bonnet to complete his restoration of chassis no.1053 in time for the 2005 meeting. Arrangements were made for the part to be shipped to Germany and true to his word the rebuild was completed in time for the long trip to Malvern. A comprehensive six-page restoration article has recently been published in the German magazine Motor Klassik (no. 7/2005). Superbly finished in dark blue, the Doretti is a left-hand drive model that was imported from the USA (the 1968 California licence plates were CFV 688 and a Buick V-8 engine had been installed at some point in its early life). Now, motive power is supplied by the more mundane TR4 engine and Aston Martin style centre-laced chrome wire-wheels shod with 185x15 Michelin XVS tyres provide the traction. Comfortable dark red leather seats are modified Austin Healey and match the rest of the internal trim and the well-fitted hood. Obviously Bernd is no purist (a man after my own heart) and has adapted the car to suit his own personal needs.

An early owner of 64 GRE, a Mark II Doretti (DVL-2), that now resides in Ontario, has sent me a couple of pictures that were taken of in1965 and described how the car finished up in Canada. The original colour of the car was Duck Egg Blue but it was later re-sprayed in Agean Blue. Vents were added to the front wings for decorative purposes only and the original steering wheel replaced with a bespoke handmade aluminium wood-rimmed wheel. A wrap-around rear bumper was added and the front bumper modified. The car was exported to Vancouver around 1966 where the car was registered with British Columbia licence plates No.673364.

A couple of months ago I was contacted by Herb Miranda of Plano, Texas the owner of No.1045. In 1968 while living in Berkeley, California, he bought the red Doretti from a military serviceman who was being sent overseas to Vietnam. The car had been modified, but well cared for cosmetically. The original grill and bumper had been removed, and the front body had been de-chromed filled. At the rear, the fender wells had been cut and flared to fit big oversize tires. The interior, with the exception of the steering wheel was original. A complete mechanical and electrical rebuild was undertaken in 1970. The engine was completely disassembled, blueprinted, balanced and reassembled along with the twin SU carburettors. The gearbox, (with original non synchro 1st gear ) was also rebuilt, so both the engine and transmission are original. The car went to college with Herb, and in 1974, upon graduation, it was taken apart for a frame-off restoration. Well, the project was never completed, 25 years and 4 children later, Herb (now in Texas) is thinking of getting back to the restoration. The car has been garaged all this time at his father's home in California. Herb concludes by saying, " I have very few pictures, as most of the family pictures were destroyed in a basement flood some ten years ago but I will scan the two photos and registration info that I have and forward it soon."

From Australia, Paul McEwen, (owner of No.1261) has sent an account of their annual pilgrimage to the TR Concourse which was in Brisbane Exhibition Centre 1400 kilometres away. The round trip would total 3000 kms, and the plan was to drive solo from Canberra to Bathurst just over 3 hours, and meet up with two TR's, from Melbourne and Orange, and another Doretti (No.1198, Chris Olsen) from Bathurst.

Paul's report continues, "Next morning, our 'early morning start' meant we left at midday, after chasing a wheel bearing noise in one of the cars. This meant our arrival at the town of Uralla was well and truly in the dark.but we had a nice meal at the motel, and met up with Bill Piggott, who was the concourse's guest of honour for the weekend. The only drama next day was a throttle linkage falling off the other Doretti but this was quickly fixed. Later on, a cracked windscreen outside Armidale held us up again, which meant some night driving and another late arrival. Normally this would not have mattered, but with the drought the kangaroos were coming down to the road more and more, and a hit on one of those can make a real mess of a sports car. I have had two cars re-sprayed in the last year because of kangaroo hits, and we did not want any dramas so far from home. The third day saw us safely into the city of Brisbane, albeit in the peak hour traffic.

This year the meeting this was held indoors at the Exhibition centre and the concourse, and the Saturday evening dinner was in a huge hall. The dinner tables with seating for 140 people were surrounded by 68 cars. Naturally the three Doretti's present were the nicest cars there, even if this is a very prejudiced opinion, contrary to most of the TR owners. Next day, Sunday, saw me leaving for home on my own, as I had to get back to work, and the other cars were continuing on a tour. First night saw Port Macquarie after 7 hours driving, and the next day only as far as Newcastle after stopping at Nabiac for a few hours. There is very little at Nabiac, except for the National Motorcycle Museum. This is a private collection of 700 motor-cycles, of which maybe one third are on loan to the museum. Well worth the stop. The third day saw me back in Canberra with the car still running beautifully, it averaged 30 miles per gallon, at 70 mph cruising speeds. Has car design really come that far in the last 50 years? Maybe in comfort, power seats and air-conditioning, but the Doretti must have been ahead of its time 50 years ago. Next year's event is being held at Cobram, on the Murray River in Victoria. Not as far, but a nice drive anyway."

On another Aussie note: just recently I acquired a copy of a 1955 Australian car magazine Wheels with a Doretti and a TR2 on the front cover. The Doretti had the NSW license plates A55 477. Does anyone recall this car or registration number?

Getting the youth of today and tomorrow into old sports cars will take some doing. But with the right attitude we can make it easier. The next time a child comes up to you at a show or even the petrol station and asks a question about your car, take the opportunity to enlighten him or her. It could make a difference to their future.

If you have any comments or suggestions about the Swallow Doretti Page, or news and/or information that you want to pass on to me or other Doretti owners then please contact me by post, e-mail or telephone.
 ... Ken Yankey



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