Jaguar is one of the best known car companies in the world, having developed a reputation for excellence. Once upon a time the company was called Swallow Coachbuilding and specialised in sidecar manufacturing. In 1945, William Lyons sold The Swallow Coachbuilding Company to the Helliwell Group, which became part of the Tube Investments Group. In order to cope with declining sales, the company brought out the Swallow Doretti, a car that combined elegance and performance. We’re looking into the history of this short-lived motor.
The Doretti was the creation of coach-builder Eric Sanders and Tubing boss Arthur Andersen. Both men decided there was a market for an affordable sports cars in America. A motor based on the Triumph TR2 was created. The Doretti had a similar tubular frame chassis layout to the TR2 and came with the same engine.
The design was more advanced, providing a stiffer frame. Front suspension was strengthened with lower links and mounted on tubular cross members. This led to a chassis that was 6 inches longer and 3 inches wider than the TR2, giving the car a smoother ride. Sanders made sure to mount the engine further back so the car had a 50/50 weight balance. The body had an Italian influence, while the rear looked similar to the Austin-Healey.
The Doretti name came from Arthur Anderson’s daughter Dorothy, who was also the Triumph distributor for Southern California. The majority of Dorettis were exported to the US, with the first batch being delivered to New York in 1953. The first public showing took place in the Embassy Room at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Two complete Dorettis were shown and the show became a major success.
In the UK, the British motoring press were first introduced to the Doretti in 1954. The Motor tested the car and found it reached a top speed of 100.2 mph and reached 0 – 60 in 12.3 seconds.
The standard version of the Doretti was priced at £1102, making it more expensive than the TR2, which cost £887. However, alleged pressure from Jaguar led to Doretti production being abandoned in 1955.