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Featured in the UK Motoring Directory
  January 2007    No.29 Equipo Doretti
 

 

The International Triumph Show on Sunday 11th February will provide a good opportunity for stocking up on parts and meeting with other Doretti enthusiasts.

Last year my own Doretti VVT 497 accumulated more miles than usual although they have only been acquired by going to group meetings, local shows and general running around. Perhaps the extremely fine weather in July was a contributing factor to the increased use, but the temporary lack of a hood still makes me keep an anxious eye on the sky.

Roger Giles reluctantly decided to sell VBH 369 (No.1257) a professionally restored car, finished in Old English White and fitted with chrome wire wheels. Much to Roger's relief the car will remain in the UK with its new owner George Niblett. Another car, TSL 748 (No.1173) located in Scotland, was imported from South Africa a few years ago and is still waiting for a buyer. This car appears to be the ex-John Saunders Doretti from Rondebosch, Cape Province. John is the son of Eric Saunders who was the Managing Director of Helliwells Limited and the Swallow Coachbuilding Company.

From New Zealand, John Rummery regularly keeps me informed of the progress of his restoration of No.1425, a post-production car. Back in July, he reported that the engine has been fired-up and is running well, with 60psi oil pressure settling to a steady 50psi when hot. All the wiring systems are now working except for a slight problem with the generator. John also says that there is one little mystery with the vacuum power brake unit is coming on of its own accord and locking on the brakes. He's now working on the windscreen, making new corner brackets, and called it a frustrating exercise in 3D!

John's latest report on his progress contains a bit of bad news, the 1955 Studebaker Hawk coupe windscreen glass he bought to cut a windscreen from, broke during the cutting - yes - he was gutted! Other than this unfortunate incident, he says things are all moving on according to plan. The car has now been returned back to the panel shop for the installation of the alloy skins and floors. Prior to delivery back to the panel shop John and his wife, sitting on the boards on the chassis, did a small excursion down the road and back. With 0 degrees toe-in the steering is light and positive, the power is good and after backing off the spark a little the engine is now idling smoother than before, the overdrive clicks in and out, the brakes are true and the suspension is not too firm. So John is really pleased with himself, and he hopes to have the car back home by the end of January.

The difficulty in obtaining a suitable grille surround has made John seriously think about having the surround cast in brass. According to John, who is currently making a pattern, it will not be exact replica but will be near enough and only a real expert will be able to tell the difference. If the project is successful, he would be willing to have them cast to order and the expected price for a surround casting, ready to be finished and electro-plated, would be around 200.

A couple of years ago at the 2004 Classic Motor Show I was talking with Simon Seath, an early owner of Chassis No.1216, a Doretti originally registered in Northern Ireland (November 1954) as TZ 1887. Simon had owned the car from 1977 for around two years and was wondering about its fate. My records show that, in January 1979 the car was shipped from Southampton to Newark, New Jersey, USA. The last reported US owner was Kevin McLemore who sold the Doretti in 1982 and then the car it seems to have disappeared. However Tom Householder has recently informed me that No.1216 has now re-surfaced after being in a Pennsylvania barn for the last twenty years but the current ownership is not clear.

Back in July, Martin Taylor-Wilde, a long-time Doretti owner, contacted me to confirm that he still owns NPH 348 (No.1212) and the car is still not yet on the road. Are there any previous owners of No.1212 possibly in Worcestershire or Derbyshire who can fill in the gaps in the car's history?

Now winter is setting in it's time to make my plans to rebuild a spare engine that has been stored for many years and update the website which has been rather neglected during the warmer weather. Please keep sending your recollections and anecdotes.

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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