Swallow Doretti Cars & Owners

Chassis No.1009
Location: USA


Swallow Doretti, Chassis No.1009 was damaged early in its life, possibly in a rollover. The wreck was purchased by Bill Binney, a skilled mechanic and fabricator who fitted the chassis with an aftermarket fiberglass body called the Allied Swallow. Binney raced the car at least twice, at Pomona and Paramount Ranch, then used it strictly as a street car. The car was discovered in 2005 in very poor condition and was about to be scrapped. The car was rescued by an enthusiast and is slowly being restored back to it's racing configuration. The attractive looking coupé with its original TR2 engine, was built on the Doretti chassis with fabricated structures front and rear on which was mounted the Allied Swallow fiberglass body.

The Binney Allied Doretti Coupé at the 1956 Concours d'Elégance, held at the Biltmore Hotel in Santa Barbara, California.  Photo credit: Bill Oker

The genesis of Allied Swallow fibreglass bodies began in 1952 when Bill Burke and Mickey Thompson had access to a Pininfarina-designed Cisitalia 202 Coupe while it was being prepared for the Autorama show in Los Angeles. Together they surreptitiously made a mould of the Cisitalia with the intention of constructing a fibreglass body for production. In collaboration with Ray Kinch they formed Atlas Fiber-Glass in the fall of 1952. Later, in 1953, the company's name would be changed to Allied Fiberglass. Initially the bodies were designed to be mounted on an MG TC or TD chassis but were later available to be accommodated on chassis with 92 to 94 inch wheelbases and 45 to 50 inch tread widths. The fiberglass bodies were also made for what the company called "Detroit" size chassis with 100 to 102 inch wheelbases.

According to information from Kurt Oblinger, the Binney-built Allied Swallow coupé had languished in a front yard of house in Modesto, California for many years after being rescued from a salvage yard. Eventually the owner agreed to sell the car at the urging of the landlord. The seller's brother was interested and contacted Tom Householder because he recognised the Doretti chassis with a fibreglass body that resembled a Cisitalia. Tom contacted Kurt, who recalled seeing ads for a Cisitalia styled body by Allied and started doing some research. A Google search gave a hit on Tam's Old Race Car Site and the Mystery Cars page where there was a mention of an Allied Doretti raced by Bill Binney. Neither Kurt or Tom had ever heard of this car. Further digging by Tom produced the Alan Kuhn photo of the Bill Binney car, (at Paramount Ranch), and it then became apparent that the car in Modesto could be the Binney Allied Doretti Special. Luckily, Kurt had a friend, Isidro Martinez, who was very interested in 1950s racing specials and he was able to buy the car, which is now in Los Angeles.

Kurt Oblinger reports that, "the Doretti chassis has has been modified in a number of interesting ways. First, there are a large number of lightening holes drilled in several chassis members as well as the pedal box and the pedal levers. Additionally, an Andrex friction shock absorber, possibly from an MG TD, has been mounted to each side of the chassis just aft of the front suspension and acting on the lower a-arm. A sway bar has also been added to the front suspension. The front brakes have had cooling holes drilled in the backing plates and around the circumference of the face of the backing plates and the drums. All of the lightening holes are very cleanly drilled and precisely spaced. The engine and transmission are missing as is all the glass, instruments, wiring and almost all of the interior." The car's fibreglass body is in pretty rough shape, especially the left front. For some reason the owner had cut the front of the body off with a circular saw! The paint history looks like gray primer on top, then a medium metallic blue, next a non-metallic dark blue, and lastly a red oxide primer. The dark blue color as well as some other details of the body, such as the position of the front marker lights and the position and shape of the front bumper brackets match an Alan Kuhn photo of the Binney Doretti Special at Pomona Raceway."

In 2005 the remains of the Binney Doretti Special were brought to a Fab 50s get-together at the old Paramount Ranch Racetrack. Mike Savin who attended the event said, "It was a kick to see Bill Binney's Coupe -- even in that sad condition after all these years. The last time I saw it must have been about 1964 or 1965. At that time a Monterey Park postman owned it and it was painted white, but Bill had originally painted it red."

Any information about the car, its history or past owners would be greatly appreciated.

If you would like to add your car to the Doretti Owners Register, please contact Ken Yankey at ken@doretti.co.uk

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