1955 Swallow for Sale (but not now)

I had no idea when I found the first information about the Swallow, that there was so much out there, on a vehicle which was built just up the road from where I spent my childhood! There are several versions of the history of the company, the car and how the other motor manufacturers featured in its demise, by threatening Tube investments with no orders from them for parts which The Tube manufactured for the likes of Triumph etc. Also when a car comes up for sale it has it’s history with it as fully as can be given. Below is the add for one which came up for sale in the last few years.


1955 Swallow Doretti For Sale $63,000

Sadly my 1955 Swallow Doretti that I have restored in 2000 and have owned for nearly 30 years is up for sale. In the following paragraphs I will outline the history of the Swallow Doretti as well as the specific history of this car.


History Of the Swallow Doretti
Around 1953 the English firm “Steel and Tube” had a subsidiary coachbuilding company called “Swallow Coachbuilding” . The company had spare capacity. Steel and Tube commissioned Frank Rainbow, a well established automotive designer, to design a car based on the Triumph TR2. The company purchased running gear and fittings from Triumph, but fabricated their own Chrome Moly steel chassis and created an aluminium body to secure to a steel subframe. Between 1954 and 1955 around 280 of these Swallow Doretti’s were produced in hand made fashion. It proven a very elegant shapely vehicle that was reasonably popular in its target market, the US. In fact the “Doretti” part of its name was not Italian, but the Italianised version of the American agents daughter “Dorothy”.
However with full order books the project was abruptly canned and sales discontinued – ostensibly because Jaguar’s directors took umbridge at it’s steel supplier competing in their market with a sports car. Selling steel to Jaguar was more profitable than selling sports cars!

So that is the abbreviated account


History of BK 2962
This Swallow found its way to New Zealand from the UK as an accident damaged write off in 1961, with BK 2962 as its first NZ registration. I purchased it in derelict condition from the basement of Wellington Hospital in 1982 and have owned it for the past 30 years. It underwent a detailed restoration between 1996 and 2004 and has been constantly refined and improved since.
It won concourse for its class at the TR Register Nationals in 2006 and is well know to members of the TR Register, have attended most of the annual events for the past 5 years.
Restoration details:
• – every nut and bolt restoration, every steering joint replaced

• – newly fabricated front guards – aluminium
• – new front and rear springs

• – leather seats and leather dashboard dyed to match vinyl door panels
• – newly fabricated front grill, chromed bronze
• – reconditioned engine with approx 10,000 miles since rebuild
• – extremely sweet running engine, tuned to perfection
• – TR3 engine head and carb setup, gives considerably more horsepower
• – power brakes (original fitting option)
• – factory heater
• – Normanville de Laycock overdrive (original fitting)


This car is as original as I could make it, rebuilt with mostly refabricated original fittings (apart from the TR3 cylinder head). Its drive is typical of a well setup 1955 sports car – quirky and fun and mildly challenging.


Photos taken by current owner (seller)

Asking Price:
$63,000 ono
• – approximate price of similar quality vehicle in UK
• – receipts and documents available for all the work done
• – value of work done is in excess of asking price.
• -Swallow Doretti’s are unique and rare. Only 2 restored SD’s in NZ. Fewer than 300 manufactured.

Wayne Butt
July 2011

0064 6 758 7720

Swallow Dotti Details from Auction

Here are the details of Number 1122 in full from the details issued by the company auctioning it for the owner! You can tell that it is aimed at the American market!

Lot number 70
Hammer value £32,500
Description Swallow Doretti
Registration PCD 514
Year 1955
Colour Powder Blue
Engine size 1,991 cc
Chassis No. 1122
Engine No. TS2769E
“There are few cars that we’ve tested that have created as much interest or drawn so much attention as the new Doretti,” wrote US motoring journalist, Walt Walron, in a glowing test of the car in 1954. “Going into corners as fast as you dare, you feel in control at all speeds, for a quick downshift and a punch of the throttle will invariably pull you out.”

Aimed squarely at conquering the American market, the Swallow Doretti was meant to fill a market niche between the sporty but basic Triumph TR2 and the luxury Jaguar XK120. Designed by Frank Rainbow, it was produced by the Swallow Coachbuilding Company in Walsall – originally founded by William Lyons of Jaguar fame, but now part of the giant Tube Investments Group.

Based on the running gear of the TR2 it shared the same lusty 2-litre 90bhp engine, 4-speed gearbox with optional overdrive, independent front suspension and Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes. However that is where the similarities ended – the mechanicals were bolted to an exceptionally rigid tubular chassis frame, the side members of which consisted of two 3-inch diameter chrome-molybdenum steel tubes reinforced with strengthening plates above and below. Some 100lbs lighter than the TR2 chassis, it carried a double-skinned body of steel inner panels clothed in an elegant alloy shell. For that streamlined Mille Miglia look, the one piece windscreen could be detached and replaced by two aero screens if required.

Praised on both sides of the Atlantic for its good looks and 100mph performance, it was only really criticized for a lack of luggage space and a rather high price: a standard version without overdrive cost £1,102 against £887 for a TR2. By early 1955 some 276 Dorettis had already been sold and plans were well under way for a MkII version, the Sabre, when production was abruptly halted on the orders of Tube Investments HQ. It is thought that other car makers, notably Jaguar, had threatened to stop sourcing components from the TI Group if they continued to develop the Doretti and nothing more was ever heard of the marque.

First registered in Sussex in March 1955, this overdrive-equipped Swallow Doretti has been subject to a total strip down and rebuild over the past 10 years with virtually every part restored or renewed as necessary. Work to the structure of the car included: chassis epoxy coated and floors replaced; aluminium bodywork completely refurbished and repainted in the original colour; all brightwork rechromed. Trim items included new hood, tonneau and sidescreens; complete interior retrim including leather seats and new carpets; new chrome wire wheels, splined hubs and spinners.

Mechanical work included: gearbox and overdrive reconditioned; new wiring loom; radiator recored; new dynamo and regulator; reconditioned starter motor; new stainless steel exhaust. The engine is the original unit and was found to be in rude good health – the vendor believes that the 54,000 miles recorded is probably the genuine distance covered from new, although there is insufficient documentary evidence to verify this.

Needless to say the car is now in lovely condition throughout and is said to drive very well with excellent oil pressure (50psi) and temperature at all times. It certainly performed very well during a short test drive on the occasion of our visit to take these pictures. Taxed and MOTd until February 2010, it comes with a large file of bills relating to the restoration, various road tests and press cuttings relating to the model, an original owner’s manual, original buff log book and modern V5C. The original steering wheel is also included should this be preferred to the wood-rim Motalita item currently fitted. Altogether a lovely example of an exceptionally rare and pretty sportscar from a little-known episode of British motoring history.
In the early 1950s a British conglomerate of around 50 companies came to the fore under the ‘Tube Investments’ name. The ‘TI’ group consisted of so many different suppliers to the automotive industry that the idea was born to build a sports car of their own making. Aimed to the serve the quickly growing American west coast market, the car would also serve as a tool to advertise the group’s broad capabilities.

Responsible for the development of the new sports car was Frank Rainbow, who was originally hired to manage the relationship between TI’s various companies but had also been responsible for the design of the ‘Gadabout’ for TI subsidiary Helliwells, which was Britain’s first scooter. Other driving forces behind the project were head of Helliwells, Ernest Sanders, John Black of Standard-Triumph and Californian Arthur Anderson, who would take up the importing duties of the cars.

Although trained as an engineer , Rainbow had no prior experience designing cars. To complicate things further, he had to work on a very tight deadline and only had two assistants to help him. His job was made easier by the extensive use of Triumph TR2 running gear. To house the proprietary bits, Rainbow developed a steel ladder frame that was constructed from high grade steel supplied by TI subsidiary Reynolds. The chassis was slightly longer and wider than the TR2’s.

Due to the different dimensions of Rainbow’s bespoke chassis, the Triumph four-cylinder engine could be mounted considerably closer to the centre of the car. This gave the new machine a near-perfect 52/48 weight balance. Also carried over from the recently introduced TR2 were the double-wishbone front suspension and live axle rear suspension as well as the drum brakes. The car was clothed in an elegant sports car body also penned by Rainbow. Due to time restraints, no mock-ups were made and the first body was created directly from the full-size drawings.

Among TI’s subsidiaries was Swallow Coachbuilding, which had originally started life as Swallow Sidecars in the 1920s. One of the company’s founders was William Lyons, who had sold the sidecar and coach-building business to TI to focus on the construction of the SS and later Jaguar cars. By the 1950s, Swallow was but a shadow of its former self but its reputation was still strong enough to convince the TI executives to name the car Swallow. Such was the state of the company that the actual construction of the car’s body was entrusted to Panelcraft.

Arthur Anderson’s lovely daughter Dorothy was the inspiration for the model name of the new Swallow. Her name was slightly changed to Doretti to add some Italian flair to the car as well. The prototype ‘Swallow Doretti’ was ready within nine months and it was immediately shipped to the United States for a promotion tour. Anderson pulled out all the stops and had several Hollywood stars pose with the new roadster. As a result, the order book quickly filled up.

When the prototype returned from California, it was accompanied by a list of problems that may needed sorting. Rainbow was happy to fix the issues but pressure from the executives to keep up momentum, forced him to start production of what was basically still a prototype early in 1954. Meanwhile he did work on a second version of the Swallow, which incorporated all the changes. Although considerably more expensive than the TR2, it was based on, the Doretti was in high demand.

Then, with no further reason given, TI ceased production after just ten months during which 276 examples were built. It was long believed that this rather rash decision was taken because the Swallow Doretti was a failure but nearly three decades later journalist Mike Lawrence set the record straight. In a Classic & Sportscar article he revealed that the car had actually become a victim of its own success; rival companies, including Jaguar, had warned TI that they would switch suppliers if the group would continue building cars .

By the time the project was axed, Rainbow had already produced the first two examples of the ‘Mk II Doretti’, which was dubbed the Sabre. Compared to the original, the second generation Swallow featured an even stronger chassis, a larger luggage compartment and a slight restyle. It could very well have taken the world by storm, considering that the Doretti, with its flaws, had already scared its rivals to take such drastic measures.

Despite the brief production period and limited numbers produced, the Swallow Doretti is far from forgotten. Due to the use of high-grade materials , the survival rate is relatively high but the car is still rare enough to be invited by all the great events like Villa d’Este and Pebble Beach. Frank Rainbow briefly worked for Triumph before returning to his family business. We can only imagine what great cars could have been produced, had he been allowed to continue his work in 1954.
Chassis: 1055
Like most Swallow Dorettis, this example was supplied to the American West Coast. In 1955 it was campaigned by Harvey M. Mayer in the Pebble Beach Road Race. The Triumph-powered machine was later acquired by Leo Welch, who parked the car for over three decades in a garage that was visible from the road. Here it was eventually discovered by the current owner some years ago and subsequently submitted to a full restoration. The work was completed in 2008 and since then the car has been regularly displayed, with a return to Pebble Beach in 2011 as the highlight. Several months later, the Swallow Doretti was offered by Fantasy Junction


I could publish all of the Doretti Newsletters, but I won’t unless asked! However I will publish number 1 and the final one available Number 255, Here!

NEWSLETTER No. 1 – February 2000
Early in November 1999, Alan Gibb and Richard Larter came down from Scotland to Cheshire to meet up with me, Ken Yankey, for the beginning of the annual Doretti pilgrimage to Oxfordshire. After a late night, we made an early start for a quick stop in Birmingham for Alan to drop off a fifth-wheel coupling at a haulage firm and then stopped by Moss Spares to buy some parts.
We then met up with Maurice Ford at his workshop in Leamington Spa. Maurice is rebuilding NBC 742 (chassis no.1160) for Peter Lockley and making an extremely good job of it. Eventually Peter showed up and we got down to a serious discussion about various aspects of the rebuild. Working on Peter’s car has inspired Maurice to persuade Cyril Harvey to sell him RRH 389 (chassis no.1098) a car which has been off the road for a number of years. The partially dismantled car is in need of a complete restoration, but it shouldn’t present any significant problems for Maurice.
After a fast run to Bristol the next pre-arranged stop was at Flax Bourton, to see Simon Brooks who bought LDP 107 (chassis no.1155) from Ted Bailey last September. Simon is enjoying having a Doretti again, having last owned one back in 1965. That car was MFH 924 (chassis no.1151), one of two Doretti sports cars now owned by Peter Billington. Simon wants a replacement front grille and four hub-caps and badges. If anybody else needs any of these items let me know and I’ll look into costing re-manufactured parts.
The final leg of the day was to Didcot for an overnight stop and a few well deserved beers.
Sunday morning saw us at the TR Register HQ. While Alan and Richard attended the Group Leaders meeting I used the day to browse through the archives looking for any Doretti related material. I was particularly impressed with the way that Bill Piggott had organised the whole of the resources, very much improved over what was in evidence the last time I visited a few years ago.
On the Sunday evening we called in to see the Doretti Registrar, Cyril Harvey, and compared notes.
With regard to the actual register of cars, I’m still trying to locate or confirm the final disposition of the following cars.
Chassis No.1031 engine no.TS954E, last reported to be in California.
Chassis No.1049, in 1998 this car was restored in the USA and then exported to Japan.
Chassis No.1063, last reported to have been exported from the USA to Belgium.
Chassis No.1103, reported to have been sold to Sri Lanka from the USA in 1977.
Chassis No.1139, UK registration no.919 DRE.
Chassis No.1145, UK registration no.LDK 965, sold by Duncan Rabagliati.
Gerard Hill the owner of 720 CRF has been in contact via e-mail, with regard to some confusion that has arisen over “Chassis No.107X” that was listed in an old register document that I inherited.
Gerard also tells me that he hopes to have his car restored and back on the road for April 2001.
If you have any comments or suggestions about the Swallow Doretti Page, or news and/or information that you want to pass on to me or other Doretti owners then please e-mail me at ken@yankey.freeserve.co.uk
… Ken Yankey


Newsletter 255 Last one online.January 2012

The first Swallow Doretti presentation at the UK’s biggest and most popular classic car exhibition, the 2011 Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham was a resounding success. Our display received complimentary remarks from many guests who were delighted to have seen a Doretti for the first time. Alongside over 1400 other cars representing a myriad of manufacturers, many of who were factory sponsored displays of prestige vehicles, the small Doretti stand was fortunately located between the floodlit Jaguar and Volvo displays.
Four excellent examples of the marque were on the Doretti stand during the show; they were the metallic dark green UVK 775 (No.1196) owned by Mike Nangreave and Rob Haden, Peter Lockley’s well known white NBC 742 (No.1200), Geoff Mansfield’s dark blue VVT 497 (No.1150) and the bright red 829 DRF (No.1157) belonging to Nigel Wilcox. All of the cars carried their individual touches but were immaculately turned out and a real credit to their owners. A couple of relatively new Doretti owners, Ross Sandman, 533 CRF (No.1075) and David Scholes, VEH 266 (No.1146) spent their time on the stand taking many detailed photos in preparation for planned modifications to their cars.
I would like to extend a big thank you to all who helped over the weekend with particular appreciation of the assistance of Paul and Yvette Webb, Roger Giles and Alan Gibb.

A number of visitors who were generally car savvy admitted they had no knowledge that the Doretti had been built in Walsall. One particularly interesting visitant recalled that as a young apprentice he had worked on a Doretti belonging to a Danny Hughes and often wondered if it was still around. The name rang a bell and I remembered that this was 720 CRF, (Chassis No.SAC105X7) currently owned by Gerard Hill. This car is thought to have been Frank Rainbow’s personal Doretti and certainly has some unusual features. For example, the rear axle is laterally located with a panhard arm bolted on to extremely well-made brackets; the brace between the rear shock absorbers has been inverted so that it runs below the prop-shaft; and the panel above the rear axle has been lowered by about three inches. Interestingly the car was originally fitted with Engine No.TS-4E but this was replaced with TS-966FR many years ago.
From Australia comes news that Paul Steele, a past owner of 362 ERE (No.1189), has been to view Chassis No.1167 in Adelaide, but with a price of A$30,000 and needing remedial work he decided not to purchase. In the early seventies Paul, who then lived in Brockworth near Gloucester, bought 362 ERE from a Watford owner. However, shortly after buying the car he joined the Merchant Navy and because of expected long absences abroad, he reluctantly sold the car to an Aberdeen buyer. Now that Paul has retired from a life at sea he is on the lookout for another Doretti.
For a number of years I had been aware of whispers about a Doretti in South Africa but with no confirmed reports of its identity; however, Peter Hall has been in contact to say that he’s owned Chassis No.1182 for many years and decided to rebuild it two years ago. The car is almost finished now and he has been trying to find a windscreen. I have passed on the information that Uroglas of Bromsgrove is able to supply windscreen glass for the later cars, so hopefully his car will soon be back on the road again.

I am also looking for an elusive Doretti, formerly registered as SNH 707. This quite distinctive red car, trimmed in grey with no bumpers, was fitted with aero-screens, equipped with disc brakes and had a Shorrock supercharger. Auctioned in 1988 by Christies at the Dutch Motor Museum it was bought by a collector and has disappeared. Do you know the owner or its whereabouts?

The story of my 1954 Swallow Doretti, chassis # 1118

Here is the story of Number 118 off the production Line.Dotti-bw

The story of my 1954 Swallow Doretti, chassis # 1118
This Swallow Doretti was built in Walsall, UK the summer of 1954 and sold to the first owner in late August that year. His name was Mr. Avery who lived in the Southbourne area of Bournemouth. The car was first time registered on September 1 1954 and got the registration number PEL 589. Mr Avery was very particular about the car’s condition and cleanliness, to the extent that he used his motorbike, not the Doretti, when it was raining! Mr. Avery sold the Doretti to finance the purchase of a Volvo P1800.


The second owner, a lady named Mrs. Beryl Eileen Stewart, living in Ferndown, bought it secondhand in 1964 for £250. The car was in “as new” condition. Absolutely “showroom”; never driven in rain or snow and washed and polished after every trip. Sadly the Stewart family was never quite so fastidious although Dotti was well cared for and always garaged.

The deal was brokered by a Mr Hetherington who was Sales Manager for the Majestic Garage, Westover Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, where the car was on display.


Tom Stewart explains – “PEL 589 was in the Stewart family for 22 years and my father indeed sold it in 1986 (on April 16th), I think for about £2,500 to Paradise Garage, then located in Heathmans Road, Fulham, London.

Aged 17, it was the very first car I ever drove on the public road. As an inexperienced teenager I also had two minor accidents in it but you don’t want to hear about those! My late father repaired the car himself. (You’d never guess where the RHS chrome strip came from!) I even remember the original steering wheel, the original gear knob and when we first had Dotti she had twin chrome exhaust tailpipes with Pirelli Cinturato front tyres and Michelin ZX rears!”


Paradise Garage do not have any records on this vehicle, but I know for a fact that it was imported to Norway the summer of 1986.

The first Norwegian owner was a used car dealership in Oslo. They imported the car and had the headlights changed for left hand driving. The car was registered for the first time in Norway for road use on the 11 August 1986 and received the registration number DE 79728. When the dealership went bankrupt, one of the employees bought the car but hardly used it as he became a father and didn’t have the time to use the car.

The third Norwegian owner was Mr. Christian Bertheau, an enthusiast living in Oslo. He acquired the car April 21 1994 and cared well for the car for more than 7 years, only driving now and then during the summer months. It was stored in a barn outside Oslo when I discovered the car the summer of 2001. It was actually up for sale in a classifieds magazine at a very affordable price. We agreed on the price and the car changed ownership 25 July 2001.

I had the car re-registered on August 1 2001 with a new registration number. In Norway, it is possible to decide what registration number you want as long as the car is 30 years or older, and I choose the number D 1118 (D for Doretti and then the chassis number).

swallow doretti sales brochure 2sear models swallow doretti

Tom continues – “She is definitely still in the same colour, though I can’t tell from your photos whether it’s still the original paint. When my father carried out some mild restoration work (and damage repair) around the mid to late ’70s he sprayed it himself – not the whole body, just the bits which needed doing! Sadly my father died in 1991 so we can’t ask him, but I seem to remember he tried to locate paint the right colour but couldn’t find a good enough match so he bought something close and mixed and matched it himself. He also refurbished the leather seats, door caps and dash. I remember the original rear screen and sidescreen plastics went very yellow and milky and were also renewed. And I think some chrome parts were rechromed, eg. those rear splash fins had noticable surface rust at one stage.

You say that Dotty now has a small dent on the front RHS wing. I damaged this in the early ’70s when I was in my mid teens – I hit our stone gatepost at low speed. It was damaged again soon after when I was driving (a large dog ran straight out of a farmyard and into the car, no time to brake). This damaged the wing again and broke the RHS spot light lens (the dog died soon after, very sad…). The original RHS chrome strip was ruined after my first accident and so my father had an exact copy handmade in Beirut! The driver’s door handle was also damaged and repaired by ‘automotive artisans’ in Beirut.

I can’t see too much interior detail from the photos on your site but I can tell you that my father made and fitted the centre console with the more sophisticated heater controls and fitted the ashtray and PYE radio which never worked at all well. This would have been in around ’66-’67. He also made and installed an ‘immobiliser’ with a hidden switch behind the dash and fitted the reversing light and the two front driving lamps. There is a switch just next to overdrive switch which he installed and wired up but I can’t remember now what that was for. (That switch is actually a throttle knob that was fitted by his father so he could warm up the cold engine but not have to leave the choke full on while he closed the garage doors and/or put on his hat and coat). He also designed, manufactured and installed a radiator coolant recirculation system (long before they became commonplace) which used a heavy duty plastic airline lemon drink bottle for the condensed coolant (true!), some tubing and polystyrene insulation. Importantly it all worked, but I don’t know if any of that hardware is still in evidence.(Yes, it is!)

(In the mid ’60s my father bought a non-running, rusty TR2 for spare parts. It rarely came in useful but sat under a plastic sheet just outside the kitchen window and annoyed my mother for many years!)

Dotti’s wooden/alloy steering wheel was a christmas present from my cousin (then a TR3 owner) to my mother in the mid ’60s. At the same time the original and worn black gearknob was replaced with a wooden one, which I think was splitting in two by the mid ’80s. The original steering wheel hung in the garage until the late ’80s.

The rear luggage rack predates Stewart ownership and originally the steel wheels were painted to match the body colour. My father sprayed them silver when they started to look a bit tatty. (In fact I now remember that their original colour was a much deeper bluey/green than the body paint colour which had faded and became ever paler.)

As far as running and driving’s concerned, in our experience Dotti always had a long throw and tricky clutch actuation which occasionally juddered quite badly. The carburation also had a fairly permanent mid-range flat spot which my father occasionally attempted to cure but I don’t think he ever fully succeeded. If I could see under the bonnet I might remember more… The steering was pretty heavy, the brakes felt a bit wooden while the handbrake always needed a good tug, reverse was sometimes hard to find and the MPH and RPM needles always wobbled a lot, but despite these minor characteristics she never broke down, never needed any major replacement mechanical parts (engine, gearbox etc. all original at least up to ’86), always sounded sweet and we loved her. And, unlike my best friend’s Dad’s MGA Twin Cam, there was room in the back for two kids!

Dotti really was one of the family. I remember the first time I ever saw her when my Mum came to collect me from boarding school without telling me first. I was 9. I remember my first ever proper drive on the road (at 17) and soon after I wanted to take my driving test in her but my mother said a sports car might give the examiner the wrong impression!”


The rest of the car is also in a very pristine original condition. The hood and tonneau is in quite good condition, the same is the side curtains. The car still has the original tool roll and jack, and the original spare wheel. It comes with a Smiths heater and of course overdrive. It even has the original Instruction Book from 1954! Well, this is not true anymore as the handbook was stolen the summer of 2003. But, luckily, I got an excellent reprint from Alan Gibb in Scotland – Thanks Alan!

I have decided to keep the car the way it is for as long as possible. No major restoration is actually needed at this stage. The car is rust free and I don’t feel like ruining the nice patina of the car. I will probably one day restore it, but that is future… still have many summers to enjoy driving the Doretti!


Approx. 290 cars built and approximately 170 cars are still around worldwide.

The Swallow Doretti – A beautiful classic car designed by Mr. Frank Rainbow and manufactured by The Swallow Coachbuiling Co. (1935) Ltd., The Airport, Walsall, Staffordshire, England.



Sorry unable to produce this adpage any lardger without it being out of focus. But you can see the adverts.

I wonder how many of the company’s in the above adds are still going? I know that The Darwall Garage in Walsall Closed some years ago.

P J Evans History!

Our Heritage


1920s – The Partnership begins


The partnership which has grown into Evans Halshaw started in 1927 when Bill Lyons, founder of Swallow Sidecar was looking for a Birmingham based dealer to sell his version of the Austin Seven.


PJ Evans was already an established and prospering dealership in the Midlands and was the perfect partner for Lyons.  Together with Lyons’ prestige cars and Evans’ expertise they we able to offer a personalised and tailored service to their customers.


Unfortunately not long into the partnership,while flying back from the French Touring Car Grand Prix, Evans was tragically killed, and as his children were too young to take over the business, P J Evans was sold to rivals Steeley and Rodway.


1930s- The business continues to prosper


Throughout the 30s, the business continued to flourish and was one of the largest dealers in the Midlands. Selling the leading brands of the day including Austin, Bean, Daimler, Fiat, Morris, Rover and Sunbeam, there seemed to be no stopping them.


1940s-  Surviving the War


Like many Motor dealers PJ Evans was badly disrupted by the war. However, Rodway kept the business going by focusing on servicing and selling second hand cars. Throughout this difficult period, Rodway kept customer service at the heart of everything he did, building up a loyal customer base.


As a result of Rodway’s savvy business strategy PJ Evans came through the war in a confident mood.


1950s, 60s, 70s- Acquisitions and Growth


As the business continued to grow, it acquired Rolls Royce and Bentley. This allowed the company to list its shares on the Birmingham Stock Exchange. With these prestige names behind the brand, PJ Evans prided itself on providing the highest of standards and customer service.


PJ Evans expanded rapidly with a number of smaller acquisitions.  During this growth, would-be-buyers took an interest and eventually LCP: a small West Midlands Conglomerate whose main business was coal distribution, property and car seat manufacturing backed the prospering dealership.


With this financial backing PJ Evans were able to acquire its first Ford Dealership in 1977, with four more joining the group over the following two years.


The growing success of Evans Halshaw was being built through the company’s core dedication to customer service, selling quality new and used cars, and keeping a focus upon after sales.  They had it all: customer satisfaction was their number one priority and it shows today at your local Evans Halshaw dealership.


1978 saw PJ Evans make it’s most lucrative purchase of the Halshaw Group: a private company that owned the Halifax Motor Company and Bradshaws Motor House


This promoted the change in name to Evans Halshaw, and the beginning of their meteoric rise to the top.



1980s – Expansion and new partners


Evans Halshaw managed to dodge the early 1980’s recession and continued to expand. Four further acquisitions in the 1980’s included two Peugeot outlets.


Evans Halshaw then continued their expansion with the purchase of three more Ford dealerships and two Iveco truck dealerships.  Throughout this difficult time Evans Halshaw continued to uphold its core customer service values.


Even through the recession Evans Halshaw continued to invest in training and development of their team members to ensure a high level of customer service to all customers was always provided. It was a gamble at the time; but through this continued development of staff, Evans Halshaw were able to offer unrivalled expertise in their field, and continue to do so today.


Despite the recession, Evans Halshaw continued to expand and was turning over in excess of £100 million a year.


The 1980’s also saw Evans Halshaw part ways with LCP, and new financial backing from Barclays Development Capital, who acquired the business for £9 million in January 1985.


1990s – Largest Automotive Retailer in the UK


Evans Halshaw continued to add to their portfolio with two more Peugeot businesses in 1996, and three more Ford franchises for £3.3 million.  This meant they now operated 16 Ford dealerships across the country, the largest number in the country.


In 1999, Pendragon PLC acquired the Evans Halshaw group for £83.7 million (what a difference 14 years makes from £9 million to over £80 million!), creating the largest automotive retailer in the UK.


Evans Halshaw continued to grow, benefitting from Pendragon’s long term relationships with its manufactures.  Because of these relationships, Evans Halshaw are able to offer customers a professional and personal service.


Today- No.1 Choice for Customers


Today, Evans Halshaw is the largest volume selling car retailer in the UK. The brand has national coverage with over 120 dealerships nationwide, and the company’s aim has been the same now, as it has always been for the last 84 years: to be the No.1 Choice for customers.


With a team of dedicated and experienced team members, there is always someone to look after your motoring needs.  From the moment you walk through the door looking for a car, to the years you spend driving it, Evans Halshaw will continue to be there for you, our customers.




Hollingdrake Jaguar
Town Hall Square
Edward Street



United Kingdom
Garages – Repair and Modification

These are the only two that I have been able to trace, of course P j Evans became Evans Halshaw and Hollingdrake became Hollingdrake Jaguar but lost the Jaguar dealership according to the Jaguar site. The picture is the sign from the original garage not the place they are in now!

Swallow Doretti the HISTORY

Swallow Doretti 1954-1955
Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Ltd.
The Airport

Swallow Coachbuilding had its origins in the pre-war firm, SS, which later became Jaguar. Swallow was the sidecar part of the firm, sold off after the war. Swallow Sidecars were the original product of William Lyons and William Walmsley. In 1945 Lyons sold The Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Ltd. to the Helliwell Group, who transferred the production to Walsall Airport, Birmingham. In 1948 Helliwell became part of the Tube Investments Group (manufacturers of Raleigh bicycles, tubing and components for the motor industry).
To compensate for declining sidecar sales, it launched its own sports car the Swallow Doretti in 1954. The design was the concept of a coach-builder named Eric Sanders and a Californian Tubing Company boss Arthur Andersen. Following a visit by Eric Sanders to California in July of 1952 both men felt that there was a market for sports cars in the USA and at home, at the right price, as was already being demonstrated by the Austin Healey 100 and was about to be demonstrated by the TR2 and of course more so by the TR3A at a later date.
Arthur Andersen had a long felt desire to have a sports car produced specifically for selling in the USA. Following his discussions with Eric Sanders and the decision to manufacture the Doretti, he made the decision to sell his tubing company to finance a specially tailored facility in California for the Importation, Preparation and Servicing, etc. of Sports Cars. In particular, the Swallow Doretti and Triumph TR2 cars, which he would then sell into California and the West Coast of the USA.
Specifications for the car were drawn up by Arthur Anderson and one Frank G Rainbow (the designer of the very successful Swallow Gadabout Scooter). The specification had to include the TR2 engine, transmission and running gear because of availability, the special relationship with Sir John Black the Standard Triumph Chief and the advantage of having common servicing and spares inventories in the USA for both cars.
The Doretti design concept was based on a tubular frame chassis of similar layout to the TR2 but of rather more advanced design and was used fairly extensively on sports racing cars of the time providing a stiffer frame. The cruciform was not needed as the chassis had an MG-style scuttle hoop and outriggers with a second hoop just in front of and lower than the final drive. Radius arms were fitted to the rear suspension in order to reduce the rear end hop experienced on the TR2. The front suspension, with strengthened lower links, was mounted on tubular cross members. This layout resulted in a chassis that was 6 inches longer and 3 inches wider than the TR2 which gave the car a considerably smoother ride. The drive train was direct TR2, using a virtually standard engine at 1991cc linked to the TR2 gearbox and rear axle bought in from Triumph. The engine was mounted further back in the car this enabled a virtual 50/50 weight distribution. The body was designed with an Italian influence which showed through on the front Ferrari-style grille. The rear of the car is very like that of the Austin Healey.
Both the Prototype and all the production bodies were built by Panelcraft Ltd of Woodgate, Birmingham who were already making special bodies for Healey cars amongst other high quality items. The body was constructed in the form of a front and rear inner tub of 22 swg steel which was bolted to the chassis and with the outer panels being made from 16 swg alloy being bolted onto the steel inner tub. The car was just one inch longer than the TR2 at 12ft 8ins but unfortunately offered smaller accommodation in both the interior and the boot. The dash layout used the central pod of the TR2 but the Revcounter and Speedometer were mounted to the left and right of the pod, presumably to ease changeovers for the left-hand drive market.
The complete car was built to an extremely high standard having a totally up-market appeal as was the price tag at £1,102.00 compared with the TR2 at the time at £910.00. The name of the car came from the Italianisation of Arthur Andersen’s daughter Dorothy Dean’s name who was also Triumph’s distributor for Southern California and by all accounts was a stunning blond. The performance of the car was not quite as good as that of the TR2 with a top speed of marginally over the ton and a 0-60 time of 12.3 seconds and returning 27.9 mpg (TR2 = 103mph; 11.9 secs and 33 mpg) but it does weigh in 50lb heavier.
Design of the car commenced in January 1953 and Frank Rainbow having been given a free hand, except for the proviso that the first car had to be completed in 9 months, had the first car completed and road tested in less than 9 months. The first car arrived in California in September 1953. A remarkable feat when you consider that the total staff involved in the job, were two senior draughtsmen (only one of whom had ever worked in a car factory before), one junior draughtsman, Frank Rainbow and a secretary.
Frank Rainbow delivered the first car to California personally, travelling onboard the Queen Mary in September 1953 to New York and then by air to California. The first public showing of the Doretti and TR2 in the United States took place on 6th January 1954 in the Embassy Room at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, California. At the show were two complete Doretti’s including the one Frank Rainbow had accompanied to California and a specially prepared complete chassis. Along with 5 TR2’s plus a TR2 chassis. They were all displayed in a most impressive way and the show was a tremendous success. It lasted six days with dealers invited from Oregon to San Diego. Also in attendance were many film personalities and celebrities.
In contrast British publications first carried news of the car in October 1953. A half page article in Motor Sport in February 1954 indicated that all production was for the export market. To introduce the car to the British motoring press, early in the summer of 1954 Swallow invited journalists to a luncheon, followed by a track day at Silverstone. However, most of the full road tests for British magazines were not published until November of that year. With dealer ads the same month advertising cars for immediate delivery on the home market.
Very few changes of any significance were made to the production cars except to ease costs. The main one being that the special hand made bumpers on the prototypes were replaced with standard Healey-type Wilmot Breeden bumpers on the production cars.With regard to chassis numbers, the two prototypes were built without chassis numbers. The production chassis started at 1000 and the final one was number 1274.
More than half of the Doretti’s produced were shipped to the USA. In addition about 12 of the Doretti’s not completed when production was shut down in 1955 were disposed of as kits to enthusiasts.
The location of 178 of the cars world-wide is known today, which is an impressive survival rate of the 275 cars built in it’s 10 month production life before it was killed off in 1955 when Jaguar gave the TI Group an ultimatum; if they continued to market a rival sports car to the XK 120, then they would go elsewhere for the many components TI supplied to Jaguar.
Just before production of the car ceased Frank Rainbow and his team built 2 Mark II versions one with wind-up windows which were to be named the Swallow-Sabre if production had continued.

Truth be known, because all parts were manufactured in house, then it was probably too expensive to produce a car which would make a profit, and without profit you cannot continue to produce.petersdoretti dorettibadge instruction-book

Harpers Buses Rescued!


Re blog because of update

Originally posted on Stickymackhouse my life and other things:


I have hung back on this story as me mate Brownhills Bob originally blogged about these two coaches rotting away in Ireland and Aston Manor trying to raise the money, and I did not want to steal his story, but he has not blogged, so here goes.

For years they had been left to rot in a field behind an old barn, hundreds of miles away, but now this pair of vintage buses manufactured in the Black Country have returned home to be restored to their former glory.
The coaches came off the production line at Guy Motors Ltd. factory in Fallings Park, Wolverhampton in 1959 and were bought by the Heath Hayes firm Harper Brothers to carry passengers on day trips to the coast. After eleven years of service they were sold to a scout group in Northern Ireland in 1971 and re-deployed to ship youngsters from their headquarters…

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