Doretti Memories of MFH 924 - Chassis No.1151
From notes by Nigel Ramsay and Alan Coulson
Nigel Ramsay recalls that he bought the "greenish ‘gunmetal’ metallic MFH 924 for £80 from a friend I was at school with and who had decided he would become a ‘dealer’. He turned up at my house and ushered me outside, taking me by the arm and showing me only the driver’s side of the car. I insisted on looking at the other side which had been ‘flattened’ against a wall or similar. A few hours with a hammer made it reasonably drivable. I have fond memories of driving it flat-out around the Southampton New Forest area and loved it dearly. I regularly maintained over a ‘ton’ uphill and the car was infamous during my ownership." He later held an international racing license for ten years and also owned an ex-Le Mans TR2 which was a lot faster but then so it should have been. Nigel still has a 1968 picture of MFH 924 taken by the Echo photographer, when a wheel fell off outside their newspaper offices in Southampton High Street."
In 1968 when Alan Coulson was a university student, he bought MFH 924 from Nigel Ramsay who was now living on a 1918 vintage Gunboat (which served in the First World War), and was moored on an estuary near Southampton. According to Alan, the Doretti which was kept in a garage on the Portsmouth side was in a pretty rough condition with every panel dented and the doors were rotten. Alan's parents were shocked when their son rolled up in his new acquistion. However, Alan and his brother set to work work and "painted the inside of the car where it was a bit dodgy due the wet carpets (as it had a bit of a water entry problem), in thick brown ship's anti-fouling paint." Alan says, "the car will stay forever barnacle free but I'm not sure about the arsenic fumes I inhaled."
"The exterior of the car was restored by a local panel beater and painted in Renault Metallic Blue, a beautiful deep metallic blue - only to be clobbered up the rear end by two old girls in a Morris Minor about four weeks later whilst I sat minding my own business in a traffic jam."
In Alan's opinion the Doretti "went reasonably well, but he always felt that the tubular steel chassis was too heavy and more than compensated for the lightweight body." MFH 924 came complete with an original aluminium hardtop, beautifully made and fully lined, but which he thought made the car look extremely ugly.
Recurrent difficuties with half-shaft breakages didn't endear the car to Alan but he could not sell it as nobody had the vaguest idea what the car was!! So Alan says he "swapped the Doretti in the late 60's for some unmentionable pile of grey porrridge from a fellow graduate at Plessey's research facility in Havant."
Information from Simon Brooks a previous owner is contained in an article entitled
A Fine Survivor by Anthony Pritchard.