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						Swallow Doretti

1955 Swallow Doretti

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, eBay

The Second World War officially concluded on September 2, 1945, but it marked only the beginning of a major invasion on American soil. Instead of soldiers and armored tanks and trucks, it was an army of foreign cars landing on American shores from the likes of Porsche, Jaguar, Triumph, MG and countless others. Of the dozens of British cars designed for the lucrative American sports car market, the Swallow Doretti is a relatively unknown two-seater, produced only from 1954 to 1955. Its tried-and-true Triumph mechanicals offered spirited performance concealed by dignified aluminum bodywork that was second-to-none in its class, evidenced by this stunning pearl white example on eBay.

Many Americans had their first experiences with sports cars abroad in the years surrounding the war, and also on military bases in the states. For a nation that thrived on speed, sports car racing was the next big thing, evidenced by the explosion of foreign cars arriving on the scene in the 1950s. And the manufacturers took notice, offering special modifications and uprated models for export to the States, and the country’s race tracks were soon home to grueling competition between Britain’s Jags, MGs and Triumphs, not to mention Germany’s best as well.

Eager to grab a market share, the Swallow Coachbuilding Company designed its own small two-seater called the Doretti. The name was an Italianization of the name Dorothy Deen, daughter of the car importer and Southern California Triumph distributor Arthur Anderson. The Doretti would use mechanicals from the Triumph TR2, including the engine and running gear, but Swallow designed its own chassis and aluminum bodywork. The chassis was considerably wider and longer than the Triumph, and was comprised of Reynolds 531 manganese–molybdenum, medium-carbon steel — a popular frame-building material for car chassis and bicycle manufacturing at the time.

The finished Doretti was much better equipped than its competition in terms of comfort and standard features, even if it did leave some performance on table when compared to the TR2. It did however offer spirited performance, and it was capable of just over 100 mph when fitted with an electric overdrive.

Unfortunately only 276 cars were built before the project was cancelled, mainly due to complaints from other British firms over Swallow’s access to raw materials. Long story short, other companies believed that Swallow had an advantage in buying raw materials since its parent company was Tube Investments Group, a holding company for all sorts of raw materials and engineering companies. If not for this, it’s probable that Swallow would have built many more examples, as plenty of orders were being made for Dorettis, even with the hefty premium it carried over the TR2.

So long story long, the Swallow Doretti is probably the best small British sports car you’ve never heard of, with serious collector value today. Hagerty’s value guide places a value of $157,000 for the best of the breed, but as low as $35,000 for a fair condition car. Listed at $129,900, the Doretti offered here on eBay seems like a nice, numbers matching example priced accordingly. It was treated to a full restoration around 2011 and was featured at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2016. Pearl white over a blue interior, the car is definitely well equipped and sure to be in concours-caliber condition.

Check out the Swallow Doretti here on eBay.

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British Cars