MONKSPATH  GARAGE


Over the years, there have been various references made to a number of Swallow Doretti sports cars that were supposedly constructed by Monkspath Garage subsequent to the end of official factory production at the Swallow Coachbuilding Company works in Aldridge, Walsall.

Kenmar Mark I
Kenmar Mk I

Monkspath Garage, located near Birmingham, sold the Kenmar, one of the earliest post-war kit cars, which was later re-named the "Shirley". However this name wasn't derived from that of the boss's daughter (à la Doretti and Mercedes) but from the fact that the garage was situated in Shirley close to Solihull. During the 1950s the garage was a very busy place as they stocked a large variety of Ford Ten and Austin Seven speed equipment by Speedex, LMB, Aquaplane and Super Accessories, and even supplied bodies and part-built cars from other kit car manufacturers such as Falcon, Hamblin and Rochdale. After the sale of bodies declined in the early 1960s they still carried on selling accessories for a number of years.


Letterhead

Early in 1955, John Churchley, (the owner of Monkspath Garage), heard that Swallow Coachbuilding had stopped production of the Doretti and wanted to dispose of its surplus parts, he was keen to see what was available. He went to the factory, ostensibly with the intention of buying twenty handbrakes and sets of cables for the cars that he was producing at the time. However when he arrived the store-man welcomed him with open arms and offered him the entire contents of the stores, including all the body panels, windscreens and so on. Churchley protested that he couldn't possibly afford everything but they were quite desperate to get rid of them and offered to sell and deliver the whole lot to Solihull for £100. Hardly able to believe his good luck he accepted the offer with great alacrity.

The following day three pantechnicons arrived at the garage with the entire contents of the stores, including dozens of panels and windscreens. Apparently Swallow had been so pleased to find somebody to take everything that they had sent the whole lot. Monkspath exported the Doretti parts all over the world for years. Indeed, so great was the demand for windscreen glass that Churchley was eventually getting them made in batches by Triplex.

John Churchley has specifically stated that all the cars had gone from the factory by the time he got there and that he never built or sold any Doretti sports cars. However there was at least one Kenmar special built on a Swallow Doretti chassis by Monkspath. Frank Rainbow himself has written that after production stopped "about twelve of the Dorettis not completed were disposed of as kits to enthusiasts". It would therefore appear that the confusion has arisen about these cars. The so-called Monkspath Doretti cars have obviously never existed and the Mark I cars with chassis numbers outside the 1001 to 1292 range should be identified as post-production vehicles, with the exception of a few prototype cars, such as 100-RH, SAC-105X7 and 146-X1.

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Ken Yankey © 2001
E-mail: ken@yankey.freeserve.co.uk
URL: http://www.doretti.co.uk