Dorothy Deen 1922 - 2007


American British Car Legend Dies

As raging wildfires threatened her Southern California home, Dorothy Deen Sitz died October 23, 2007 in a nearby Oceanside hospital after a long illness. The vivacious blonde Deen was best known for the Swallow Doretti sports car, a line of sports car accessories with the Doretti name and for importing Triumph sports cars for the Western United States. A darling of the local and automotive press, she was a common fixture at races and promoting the sports cars she sold.

Born on March 28, 1922 in Hollywood, California, to engineer and businessman Arthur Andersen and Martha Schultz Andersen, Dorothy grew up in a time when women either stayed home with children or worked as secretaries and telephone operators. At an early age, Dorothy Andersen had other ideas.

Her career started as a teenager test driving the Whizzer motor bicycles her father had re-designed. She graduated to a mail order business selling gasoline model airplane engines her father also designed and manufactured. Growing up in Los Angeles, Dorothy had always been interested in cars, but the interest really took off in 1950 when she took delivery of a brand new Ivory MG TD, which was followed by several sporty Simcas. Instantly, she was propelled into a world of rallies, clubs and races. Although her later business interests prevented her from racing, she and her father often ran their cars on an abandoned airfield near the Andersen beach house.

The next business venture forever changed Dorothy's life. Unable to find high-quality accessories for her MG and her father's Morgans, the pair designed and marketed their own wind wings, sun visors, luggage racks, valve covers in addition to wood and aluminum steering wheels. With backing from Andersen and in partnership with machinist Paul Bernhardt, Cal Specialties was born. To make the Cal Specialties line sound more exciting, the partners took the first three letters of Dorothy's name, and turned it into the Italianate "Doretti".

Through his work with thin-wall steel tubing, Andersen became involved with the Swallow Coachbuilding Company that was to build a sports car based on Triumph TR2 running gear. In partnership with Dorothy, Andersen took on distribution of the new car in the U.S. and simultaneously picked up Western distribution rights for Standard-Triumph. Not only would Dorothy import the cars, but for a single dollar she sold the rights to the Doretti name that soon graced the attractive new two-seater. After Doretti production ended in 1955, Deen continued to import Triumphs until the company bought out all the distributors in 1960. She then became the 45th woman in the world to earn her helicopter pilot's license and later co-owned and managed an aircraft dealership. She later returned to UCLA to become a para legal on her intended completed route to becoming an attorney. Along the way she declined Max Hoffman's offer of a West Coast BMW distributorship and opted for a life of retirement and travel with her late husband, Tony Anthony, whom she met when he sold her that first MG TD sports cars years earlier. She is survived by automotive historian Jim Sitz, her husband of sixteen years.

Jonathan A. Stein

An excellent detailed biography of Dorothy Deen by Karla A. Rosenbusch can be found in Automobile Quarterly, Vol.34, No.2, pp.49-61.

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Ken Yankey © 2007