SWALLOW DORETTI PAGE
The passing of Alec Pringle is a great loss to the Triumph community but most people are
probably unaware of his particular affinity with the Swallow Doretti. In 1994 when Alec was the
Technical Editor of TRaction magazine he penned a short item about UHU 134 which he had
owned for a few years in the late 1970s.
According to Alec, "as a small boy in the Fifties I lusted after a Doretti. The one car in
the I Spy Book of Cars which I had failed to spot. A decade later, cruising across the
Cambridgeshire Fens in my Allard, I was overtaken by a Doretti. Despite the V-12 Lincoln
engine, with a supercharger to each bank of cylinders, I was hard-pressed to keep up.
The TR3A which I rallied and hill-climbed at the time was no match for the Allard -
the Doretti impressed."
In 1975, Alec saw a Swallow Doretti advertised for sale in Sussex, which was a UHU 134,
(Chassis No.1252), first registered in Bristol in 1955. The car which had some competition
history was in fairly good condition so it was bought immediately.
Four years later Alec sold the car and said, "it was the only car I've ever really
In his typical forthright manner, Alec Pringle's personal retrospective look at the Doretti
does not pull any punches.
"Forget all the twaddle about the Doretti being slower than Triumph TR2s. The road test
cars may have been five mph slower at the top end, and a second slower from rest to 60 -
but the road-test Doretti sports cars were bog standard production cars. Few other 1950's
manufacturers were so naive as to submit perfectly standard cars for motoring magazine
road test. Blue printed engines at the very least! In any case, the extra wheelbase and
front track of the Doretti improved the road-holding considerably, and the additional rear
axle location cured the TR2's suicidal tendencies "on the limit". Ride comfort was a great
deal better, of course.
In other words, any marginal deficiencies in a bog standard Doretti straight line speed
were more than outweighed by superior road-holding. Not to mention that you could drive
the Doretti with the hood down at any speed over 40mph and remain dry in the rain, and
drive 400 miles without feeling numbed! Frank Rainbow's grasp of aerodynamics extended
beyond passenger comfort - adequate air flow to the drum brakes almost eliminated brake
fade, even at racing speeds. A distinct contrast to drum braked TRs.
As I discovered in the mid-1970s, keeping up a 60+ mph cross country average in the
Doretti wasn't difficult. The average driver in his Cortina saw my TR6 in his mirror and
regarded it as a challenge to keep the 6 behind. But seeing the Doretti, Cortina-man
invariably moved over in order to let the beast past, simply to see what it was. In rather
more objective terms, I could put the Doretti round a standing lap of Goodwood
in 1 min 57 secs without difficulty. To beat two minutes in a drum braked TR2 or 3
in reasonably standard form takes a great deal more bottle.
So there you have it. The TR2 was, without question, a great sports car of its time,
and still is. The Swallow Doretti was, in its own way, every bit as good as - and the
Mk II Sabre had the potential to be a very much better car than the TR3/3A/3B ever was."
... TRaction No.113, March/April 1994. pp.35
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