Duple: Simms and Daimler (Part 2)

Civil aviation After the Armistice it was decided that Daimler Hire should extend its luxury travel services to include charter aircraft through a new enterprise, Daimler Air Hire. Following the take-over of Airco and its subsidiaries in February 1920 services included scheduled services London-Paris as well as “Taxi Planes” to “anywhere in Europe”. In 1922 under the name of Daimler Airway services extended to scheduled flights London to Berlin and places between. Frank Searle, managing director of Daimler Hire and its subsidiaries moved with his deputy Humphery Wood into the new national carrier Imperial Airways at its formation on 1 April 1924. Searle and Wood and their Daimler Airway machines formed the core of Imperial Airways operations.
Commercial vehicles
In late 1920s, it, together with Associated Equipment Company (AEC), formed the Associated Daimler Company to build commercial vehicles. The association was dissolved in 1928 with each company retaining manufacture of its original products.
Lanchester acquisition and badging
In 1930 the bulk of Daimler’s shareholding in its subsidiary Daimler Hire Limited was sold to the Thomas Tilling Group and, in January 1931, Daimler completed the purchase of The Lanchester Motor Company Limited. The new Lanchester 15/18 model introduced in 1931 was fitted with Daimler’s fluid flywheel transmission.
Although at first they produced separate ranges of cars with the Daimler badge appearing mainly on the larger models, by the mid-1930s the two were increasingly sharing components leading to the 1936 Lanchester 18/Daimler Light 20 differing in little except trim and grille.
This marketing concept already employed with their BSA range of cars continued to the end of Lanchester and BSA car production. Some very important customers were supplied with big Daimler limousines with Lanchester grilles. The Daimler range was exceptionally complex in the 1930s with cars using a variety of six- and eight-cylinder engines with capacities from 1805 cc in the short lived 15 of 1934 to the 4624 cc 4.5-litre of 1936.
Mid-term review and outlook
By 1930, the BSA Group’s primary activities were BSA motorcycles and Daimler vehicles.
It has been suggested Simms and Daimler soon withdrew from their initial association with Lawson because Lawson showed little potential ability for managing a manufacturing business. It was felt Lawson’s was an unsatisfactory group of people to be associated with. They were described by Frederick Lanchester as “the Coventry Company Promoting Gang”. Once relieved of Lawson, the next period, Sturmey’s chairmanship, suffered from the division between his supporters and his opponents. Sturmey departed in 1899.
Yet in the early 1900s, the achievement of a Royal Warrant and acquisition of some capable talent led to improved fortunes. Under the chairmanship of Sir Edward Jenkinson, an American, Percy Martin, a substantial shareholder and electrical engineer, was promoted to works manager and Ernest Instone to general manager. Jenkinson was succeeded in 1906 by Edward Manville, a distinguished consulting electrical engineer who was to become chairman of BSA. The involvement of the Docker family, father and son, beginning in 1910 failed to solve boardroom difficulties which transferred to BSA and in the end may have brought about disaster but in any case until the late 1920s the collective Daimler leadership did well and the business prospered. Its repute and its profits grew. “Side by side with an apprenticeship scheme which was as good as any in the trade, they had begun to attract pupils from public schools with such success that shortly before (World War I) there was a hostel full of them in a pleasant house in St Nicholas Street near the Coventry works.”[ During that war, the labour force grew from 4,000 to 6,000 men. The acquisition of Airco in February 1920 was a financial disaster for the BSA group, the blame since laid at Percy Martin’s door, and all dividends were passed from 1920 to 1924. Martin had been strongly in favour of its purchase with its extensive aircraft or motor vehicle production facilities near London and no one thought to exercise “due diligence”, which would have revealed Airco’s true circumstances.
All the quality car businesses experienced financial difficulties in the late 1920s. Daimler’s situation seemed particularly serious. Sales fell sharply in 1927–1928, a period of losses ensued and no dividends were paid between 1929 and 1936. The sleeve valve engine was now well out of date, Daimler’s production methods had become old-fashioned, and they had an extravagantly large range of products. Their bankers noted the dwindling sales volume, the equipment. Stratton-Instone’s new dominance of distribution was removed and new outlets arranged. The interests in Singer and the Daimler Hire business were sold and Lanchester bought. The in-house bodywork department was closed and by the spring of 1931 car production ceased, only commercial vehicle production and aero engine work kept Daimler in business.
Laurence Pomeroy joined Daimler in late 1926, at first working on commercial vehicles but from 1928 he worked at the products of the main Daimler operation. Pomeroy introduced redesigned poppet valve engines with the Daimler Fifteen in September 1932, developed new models of Daimlers, recommended what became the September 1932 introduction of the small BSA and Lanchester Tens with poppet valve engines to help Daimler survive the depression and according to Percy Martin these things rescued the business from total collapse in 1932. 1934’s new Straight-Eights were a personal triumph for Pomeroy.
poor performance for price and the need for installation of up-to-date machine tool
With the 1930s, another gradual slide began. Manville died in harness in 1933, Percy Martin was forced out two years later, and Frederick Lanchester resigned as consultant in 1936. That same year, Laurence Pomeroy was not re-elected to the board and left for de Havilland. Ernest Instone had left the works in the early 1920s to concentrate his efforts on distribution (Stratton-Instone) but he too died, in 1932. Daimler was not paying dividends and the 1936 BSA shareholders’ meetings were stormy. Attempted solutions had included the Lanchester acquisition and the introduction of smaller cars, the lower-priced 10 hp Lanchester and its matching but six-cylinder stable-mate the Daimler Fifteen (later DB17 and DB18) introduced in the early thirties. This particular product line as the Lanchester Fourteen and Daimler Conquest was to run through to almost the very end.
Edward H. W. Cooke attempted a revival and from 1937 introduced saloons with a freshness of design new to Daimler. The new products had successes in competitions and rallies. His policy was proved sound but another war, post-war austerity and yet more boardroom battles, this time in public, seemed to put an end to Daimler’s once-proud business.
Daimler’s semi-automatic transmissions
Daimler became a proponent of the Wilson self changing gearbox matched with Fottinger’s fluid flywheel further developed from Vulcan’s and their own patents. They were introduced by Daimler in October 1930 on their new Light Double-Six for an extra £50 and soon they were used in all Daimler vehicles. The chairman reported to the shareholders at their Annual General Meeting in November 1933 “The Daimler Fluid Flywheel Transmission now has three years of success behind it and more than 11,000 vehicles, ranging from 10 h.p. passenger cars to double-deck omnibuses, aggregating over 160,000 h.p., incorporate this transmission. . . . . it has yet to be proved that any other system offers all the advantages of the Daimler Fluid Flywheel Transmission. Our Daimler, Lanchester and BSA cars remain what we set out to make them—the aristocrats of their class and type. . . . We have also received numerous inquiries from overseas markets. (Applause)”. These transmissions remained in production until replaced by Borg-Warner fully automatic units beginning in the mid-1950s. Late in that period a new Lanchester model with a Hobbs fully automatic gearbox did not, in the end, enter full production.
Royal Daimlers
A wide variety of engines were made in the earlier years. In an attempt to give some kind of indication of the complexities involved what follows is a list, by year of first supply, of the different engines in cars supplied to the King. In many cases a number of cars were supplied with the same engine and over a period of some years.
World War II work
War was declared on 3 September 1939. It would last until 15 August 1945 and again involve much of the world in the conflict.
During World War II, Daimler turned to military production. A four-wheel-drive scout car, known to the Army as the Dingo had a 2.5-litre engine and the larger Daimler Armoured Car powered by a 4.1-litre engine and armed with a 2-pounder gun were produced, both with six-cylinder power units, fluid flywheels and epicyclical gearboxes. These military vehicles incorporated various innovative features including all-round disc brakes. The Dingo was a BSA design, Daimler’s own design had proved inferior but the “Dingo” name was retained.
During the war Daimler built over 6,600 scout and some 2,700 Mk I and Mk II armoured cars. Tank components, particularly epicyclical gearboxes were provided for some 2,500 Crusader, Covenanter and Cavalier tanks. No complete aircraft as in the previous war but 50,800 radial aero-engines—Bristol Mercury, Hercules and Pegasus—with full sets of parts for a further 9,500 of these engines; propeller shafts for Rolls-Royce aero-engines; 14,356 gun-turrets for bombers including their Browning machine guns; 74,000 Bren guns—bombed-out that production had to be moved to a boot and shoe factory in Burton-on-Trent. Over 10 million aircraft parts were produced during the war. All this production is Daimler’s alone excluding BSA’s other involvements.
Daimler’s peak workforce, 16,000 people, was reached in this period.
After that war, Daimler produced the Ferret armoured car, a military reconnaissance vehicle based on the innovative 4.1-litre-engined armoured car they had developed and built during the war, which has been used by over 36 countries.
Brown’s Lane
The original Sandy Lane plant, used as a government store, was destroyed by fire during intensive enemy bombing of Coventry, but there were by now ‘shadow factories’ elsewhere in the city including one located at Brown’s Lane, Allesey—now itself destroyed—but which after the Jaguar takeover became for several decades the principal Jaguar car plant.
Postwar decline
Churchill, for many years a regular customer, did his electioneering for his first postwar election sitting on the top of the back seat of a discreetly fast and luxurious low-slung Dolphin two-door drop head coupé first registered in 1944. The government ordered new limousines for the top brass of the occupying forces. New straight-eights were supplied to the former colonies for the planned royal tours.
Foreign monarchs re-ordered to replenish their fleets. The 1946 golden jubilee of the founding of the business was celebrated with a luncheon at the Savoy.
However ‘austerity’ seemed infectious. The new Lanchester looked just like a Ford Prefect and its body was made in the same factory. A new model Eighteen with a lot of aluminium because of the steel supply shortage, a modified pre-war Fifteen, was introduced with technical innovations limited to a new cylinder head and curved glass in its side windows now framed by elegant chromed metal channels. Windows were ‘in’. The big DE27 and DE 36 models were the first series-built cars with electrically operated windows. Daimler ambulances became a common sight.
Then in June 1947 purchase tax was doubled—home market sales had already been restricted to cars for “essential purposes”. Petrol remained rationed, ten gallons a month. Princess Elizabeth took her 2½-litre drop head coupé, an 18th-birthday gift from her father, to Malta, where her new husband was stationed. The King took delivery of a new open tourer straight-eight in March 1949. In the commodities boom caused by the 1950 Korean War Australasian woolgrowers reported the new electrically operated limousine-division to be ‘just the thing’ if over-heated sheepdogs licked the back of a driver’s ears. The newest royal Daimler’s transmission failed again and again.
This schedule shows where what should have been Daimler repeat-orders went to. Daimler subsidiary Hoopers at least got to make some of the bodies.
Consorts discounted
Sir Bernard Docker took the extra responsibility of Daimler’s managing director in January 1953 when James Leek was unable to continue through illness. Car buyers were still waiting for the new (Churchill) government’s easing of the ‘temporary’ swingeing purchase tax promised in the lead up to the snap-election held during the 1951 Earl’s Court motor show. Lady Docker told her husband to rethink his marketing policies. 3-litre Regency production was stopped. In the hope of keeping 4,000+ employed the Consort price was dropped from 4 February 1953 to the expected new tax-inclusive level.
Stagnation of all the British motor industry was relieved by the reduction of purchase tax in the April 1953 budget. Daimler announced the introduction of the moderately sized Conquest in May (apparently developed in just four months from the four-cylinder Lanchester 14 or Leda with a Daimler grille).
Daimler and Lanchester (there were no more BSA cars) struggled after the War, producing too many models with short runs and limited production, and frequently selling too few of each model, while Jaguar seemed to know what the public wanted and expanded rapidly. Daimler produced heavy, staid, large and small luxury cars with a stuffy, if sometimes opulent image. Jaguar produced lower quality cars at a remarkably low price, designed for enthusiasts.
The BSA group’s leadership of the world’s motorcycle market was eventually lost to Japanese manufacturers.
Lady Docker’s Daimlers
Sir Bernard Docker was the managing director of BSA from early in WWII, and married Norah Lady Collins in 1949. Nora was twice-widowed and wealthy in her own right. This was her third marriage. She had originally been a successful dance hall hostess. Lady Docker took an interest in her husband’s companies and became a director of Hooper, the coachbuilders.
Daughter of an unsuccessful Birmingham car salesman Lady Docker could see that the Daimler cars, no longer popular with the royal family, were in danger of becoming an anachronism in the modern world. She took it upon herself to raise Daimler’s profile, but in an extravagant fashion, by encouraging Sir Bernard to produce show cars.
The first was the 1951 “Golden Daimler”, an opulent touring limousine, in 1952, “Blue Clover”, a two-door sportsmans coupe, in 1953 the “Silver Flash” based on the 3-litre Regency chassis, and in 1954 “Stardust”, redolent of the “Gold Car”, but based on the DK400 chassis as was what proved to be her Paris 1955 grande finale, a 2-door coupé she named “Golden Zebra”, the “last straw” for the Tax Office and now on permanent display at The Hague.
At the same time Lady Docker earned a reputation for having rather poor social graces when under the influence, and she and Sir Bernard were investigated for failing to correctly declare the amount of money taken out of the country on a visit to a Monte Carlo casino. Sir Bernard was instantly dumped “for absenteeism” by the Midland Bank board without waiting for the court case. Norah drew further attention. She ran up large bills and presented them to Daimler as business expenses but some items were disallowed by the Tax Office. The publicity attached to this and other social episodes told on Sir Bernard’s standing as some already thought the cars far too opulent and perhaps a little vulgar for austere post-war Britain. To compound Sir Bernard’s difficulty, the royal family shifted allegiance to Rolls-Royce. By the end of 1960 all the State Daimlers had been sold and replaced by Rolls-Royces.
Turner’s engines
In 1951 Jack Sangster sold his motorcycle companies Ariel and Triumph to BSA, and joined their board. In 1956 Sangster was elected chairman, defeating Sir Bernard 6 votes to 3. After a certain amount of electioneering by the Dockers an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting backed the board decision and Bernard and Norah left buying a brace of Rolls-Royces as they went registering them as ND5 and BD9. Many important European customers turned out to have been Docker friends and did not re-order Daimler cars.[3]
Sangster promptly made Edward Turner head of the automotive division which as well as Daimler and Carbodies (London Taxicab manufacturers) included Ariel, Triumph, and BSA motorcycles. Turner designed the lightweight hemi head Daimler 2.5 & 4.5 Litre V8 Engines. The small engine was used to power a production version of an apprentice’s exercise, the very flexible Dart and the larger engine installed in the Majestic Major, a relabelled Majestic. Under Sangster Daimler’s vehicles became a little less sober and more performance oriented. The Majestic Major proved an agile high-speed cruiser on the new motorways. Bill Boddy described the SP250 as unlikely to stir the memories of such ghosts as haunt the tree-lined avenues near Sandringham, Balmoral and Windsor Castle.
The two excellent Turner V8 engines disappeared with British Leyland’s first rationalisation, the larger in 1968 and the smaller a year later.

Buses 1911–1973
A significant element of Daimler production was bus chassis, mostly for double deckers. Daimler had been interested in the commercial vehicle market from 1904. In 1906 it produced, using the Auto-Mixte patents of Belgian Henri Pieper, a petrol-electric vehicle and on 23 May 1906 registered Gearless Motor Omnibus Co. Limited. It was too heavy. Following the introduction of Daimler-Knight sleeve-valve engines re-designed for Daimler by Dr Frederick Lanchester Lanchester also refined the Gearless design and it re-emerged in 1910 as the KPL (Knight-Pieper-Lanchester) omnibus, a very advanced integral petrol electric hybrid. The KPL bus had four-wheel brakes and steel unitary body/chassis construction. Failure to produce the KPL set bus design back twenty years.
Introduction of the KPL was stopped by a patent infringement action brought by London General Omnibus’s associate Tilling-Stevens in early May 1911 when just twelve KPL buses had been built. This was just after Daimler had poached LGOC’s Frank Searle and announced him to be general manager of its new London bus service which would be using its new KPL type to compete directly with LGOC.[39]
Some of LGOC’s vehicles used Daimler engines. With the collapse of Daimler’s plans Searle, an engineer and designer of the LGOC X-type and AEC B-type bus, instead joined Daimler’s commercial vehicle department. Reverting to (before LGOC) omnibus salesman Searle rapidly achieved some notable sales. 100 to Metropolitan Electric Tramways and 250 to LGOC’s new owner, Underground.
First Searle designed for Daimler a 34-seater with gearbox transmission (the KPL used electric motors each side) very like the B-Type and it was introduced by Daimler in early 1912. The main difference from what became the AEC B-Type was the use of Daimler’s sleeve-valve engine. In June 1912 what had been LGOC’s manufacturing plant was hived off as AEC. Between 1913 and 1916 AEC built some Daimler models under contract and Daimler sold all AEC vehicles which were surplus to LGOC needs. After war service now Colonel Searle moved to Daimler Hire Limited and its involvement in aviation. The Searle models were developed after World War I, but from 1926–8 Daimler entered into a joint venture with AEC vehicles being badged as Associated Daimler.
In the 1930s the Daimler CO chassis became the main model, followed by a similar, but heavier, CW ‘austerity’ model produced during World War II (100 with the Gardner 5LW engine (CWG5), the rest with the AEC 7.7-litre engine – CWA6) and in postwar years production worked through the Daimler CV to the long-running Daimler CR Fleet line, built from 1960 to 1980 (CVG5 and CVG6 had been a common type of bus in Hong Kong between 1950 to 1988 and Fleet line had also become a major type of bus in Hong Kong until 1995). Small numbers of single deck vehicles were also built. Many British bus operators bought substantial numbers of the vehicles and there were also a number built for export. The standard London double-decker bus bought from 1970 to 1978 was the Daimler Fleet line.
Daimler buses were fitted with proprietary diesel engines, the majority by the Gardner company, of Eccles, Manchester, although there were a few hundred Daimler diesels built in the 1940s & 1950s, and the Leyland O.680 was offered as an option on the Fleet line (designated CRL6) after the merger with Leyland. The bus chassis were also fitted with bodywork built by various outside contractors, as is standard in the British bus industry, so, at a casual glance, there is no real identifying feature of a Daimler bus, apart from the badges (Front engined Daimler buses retained the distinctive fluted radiator grille top). The last Daimler Fleet line was built at the traditional Daimler factory in Radford, Coventry, in 1973. After that date, the remaining buses were built at the Leyland factory in Farington, Preston, Lancashire, and the final eight years of Fleet line production being badged as Leyland’s. The last Fleet line built was bodied by Eastern Coach Works in 1981.
During that Jaguar-owned period 1960–1968, Daimler became the second-largest (after Leyland) double-decker bus manufacturer in Britain, with the “Fleet line” model. At the same time, Daimler made trucks and motor homes. BMH merged with the Leyland Motor Corporation to give the British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968. Production of Daimler buses in Coventry ceased in 1973 when production of its last bus product (the Daimler Fleet line) was transferred to Leyland plant in Farington. Daimler stayed within BLMC and its subsequent forms until 1982, at which point Jaguar (with Daimler) was demerged from BL as an independent manufacturer.

Owned by Jaguar Cars (1960-1966)
In May 1960, the Daimler business was purchased from BSA by Jaguar Cars for 3.4 million pounds. William Lyons was looking to expand manufacture, wanted the manufacturing facilities and had to decide what to do with the existing Daimler vehicles.
Jaguar had been refused planning permission for a new factory in the area in which it wanted it to be. Daimler had shrunk to representing just 15% of BSA group turnover in 1959–1960 and BSA wished to dispose of its motoring interests. “Jaguars reiterate their previous statement that the production of the current range of Daimler models is to be continued. Furthermore, research and development work in connexion with future Daimler models will proceed normally. Jaguars deny rumours to the effect that sweeping changes, including even the extinction of the Daimler marque, are to be expected. The company’s long term view envisages not merely the retention of the Daimler marque, but the expansion of its markets at home and overseas, it is stated.”
Paul Skilleter, in his book “Jaguar saloon cars” states that Jaguar put a Daimler 4.5L V8 in a Mark X, and it went better than the Jaguar version, achieving 135 mph at the MIRA banked track, even with an inefficient prototype exhaust.
The Daimler Majestic Major and the sporty Dart, already in production, were continued for a number of years, using the Daimler V8 engine. In 1961 Daimler introduced the DR450, a limousine version of its Majestic Major with a longer chassis and body shell and higher roofline. It continued in production until the DS420 arrived in 1968, by which time it had sold almost as many as the “Major” saloon.
They were the last Daimlers not designed by Jaguar.
The last car to have a Daimler engine was the 2.5 V8 later V8-250 which was essentially, apart from a fluted top to its grille, different badges and drive train, a more luxurious Jaguar Mk 2. Its distinctive personality may have attracted buyers who would have avoided the matching Jaguar.
While this car became the most popular Daimler ever produced it had two remarkable characteristics:
• buyers did not include previous Daimler owners but rather people trading up from the bigger Ford, BMC or Rover cars.
• No-one traded their V8-250 for a new V8-250. This at a time when 60% of new Jaguars were sold in exchange for Jaguars.
Daimler Sovereign, now there would be no more than a Daimler label for a luxury version of a Jaguar car. After discussion it was decided it would not be a Royale but a Sovereign.

Daimler Company, owned by BMH (1966-1968)
Jaguar was taken over by British Motor Corporation (BMC), the new masters of badge-engineering, in 1966 and a few months later BMC was renamed British Motor Holdings (BMH).
Sir William Lyons
Though Jaguar had diversified by adding, after Daimler, Guy trucks and Coventry-Climax to their group they remained dependent on Pressed Steel for bodies. Once BMC had taken control of Pressed Steel Lyons felt compelled to submit to the BMC takeover. Lyons remained anxious to see that Jaguar maintained its own identity and came to resent the association with British Leyland. He was delighted by Sir John Egan’s accomplishments and by the new independence arranged in 1984.
In 1967, British Leyland’s New York advertising agency advised and it was accepted that there was insufficient in the group advertising budget to cope with maintaining the marketing of the Daimler brand in USA.
Owned by British Leyland (1968-1984)
Jaguar’s Daimler-trained chief executive Lofty England, a Daimler apprentice 1927–1932, joined Jaguar in 1946. His background was as Service manager, Jaguar  Cars 1946–56, service director 1956–61, assistant managing director 1961–66, deputy managing director 1966–67, joint managing director 1967–68, deputy chairman 1968–72, chairman and chief executive 1972–74.

The Daimler DS420 Limousine introduced in 1968 and withdrawn from production in 1992 employed a strengthened Mk X Jaguar unitary carcass with a new roof and a rear extension—21 inches were let in to the floor pan behind the front seat by Rubery Owen. Finishing from the bare metal was carried out by Vanden Plas who had lost their Princess. The floor pan with mechanicals—a drive-away chassis— was also sold for specialised bodywork, mostly hearses. The very last hearse was delivered on 9 February 1994 to a Mr Slack, funeral director of Cheshire.
Though entirely a Jaguar the DS420 was unique to Daimler. These stately limousines, wedding and funeral cars and the hearses made by independent coachbuilders, their majestic bulk preceded by the fluted grille, are now the way most remember Daimler cars.
Daimler Sovereign, Daimler Double-Six
These were the first series of vehicles that were badge-engineered Jaguars (XJ Series), but given a more luxurious and upmarket finish. For example the Daimler Double-Six was a Jaguar XJ-12, the Daimler badge and fluted top to its grille and boot handle being the only outward differences from the Jaguar, with more luxurious interior fittings and extra standard equipment marking it out on the inside.
Continental Europe
The Daimler name was dropped in Europe for two or three years in the early 1980s. Jaguar adopted the Sovereign designation. The Daimler name returned in Europe at the end of 1985. Jaguar decided it would have its part of the fortune European dealers were making from importing conversion kits of Daimler body parts to convert Jaguars to Daimlers.
Visitors to USA found fluted Daimlers labelled ‘Jaguar Vanden Plas’.
The Daimler brand was kept going by the local fleet market, a chairman could have his Daimler and board members their Jaguars.
When the new XJ40 came into production in 1986 the series III was kept in production a further six years to 1992 to carry the big Double Six engines.

Owned by Jaguar Cars (1984-1989)
If Jaguar was not to follow Daimler into becoming just another once iconic brand it needed immense amounts of capital to develop new models and build and equip new factories. This was beyond the ability of the BMH—now British Leyland—Group It was decided to market the Jaguar business by first obtaining a separate London Stock Exchange listing to fix a price then ensuring any successful bid for all the listed shares in the whole business would be from a bidder with, or with access to, the necessary capital. That bidder proved to be Ford.
1984 produced a record group output of 36,856 cars but less than 5% were badged Daimler. Two years later Daimler’s share had reached 11.5%—in fact almost 23% if the Vanden Plas for USA is included.
Owned by Ford (1989-2007)
In 1989 the Ford Motor Company paid £1.6 billion to buy Jaguar and with it the right to use the Daimler name. In 1992, Daimler (Ford) stopped production of the DS420 Limousine, the only model that was a little more than just a re-badged Jaguar.
When Ford bought Jaguar in 1990, the British press showed a coloured computer-generated image of a proposed ‘new’ Daimler car – not merely a rebadged Jaguar XJ..
Daimler remained the flagship Jaguar product in every country except the USA where the top Jaguar is known as the “XJ Vanden Plas” — Jaguar may have feared that the American market would confuse Jaguar Daimler with Daimler AG. Marketing of the Daimler name in USA had ceased in 1967.
Daimler’s centenary was celebrated in 1996 by the production of a special edition: 100 Double Six and 100 straight-six cars, each with special paint and other special finishes including electrically adjustable rear seats.
X300 1994–1997 SWB LWB
Daimler Six 1,362 1,330
Daimler Double Six 1,007 1,230
Daimler Century Six 100
Daimler Century Double Six 100
The single 2-door 4-seater convertible built in 1996 to commemorate Daimler’s centenary and called Daimler Corsica was based on the Daimler Double-Six saloon. The prototype, which lacked an engine, had all the luxury features of the standard saloon but a shorter wheelbase. Painted “Seafrost” it was named after a 1931 Daimler Double-Six with a body by Corsica. Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust have decommissioned it to operate as a fully functional road-legal car and it is on display at their museum at Browns Lane in Coventry, England.

1997 saw the end of production of the Double Six. It was superseded by the introduction of a (Jaguar) V8 engine and the new car was given the model name Mark II XJ. The engine was the only significant change from the previous XJ40. The replacement for the Double Six was the supercharged Super V8, the supercharger to compensate for the loss of one-third of the previous engine’s capacity.
X308 1997–2003 SWB LWB
Daimler Eight 164 2,119
Daimler Super V8 76 2,387 Daimler Super Eight
After a three-year break a new Daimler, the Super Eight, was presented in July 2005. It had a new stressed aluminium monocoque/chassis-body with a 4.2 L V8 supercharged engine which produced 291 kW (396 PS; 390 b.h.p) and a torque rating of 533 N•m (393 lb•ft) at 3500 rpm. This car was derived from the Jaguar XJ (X350).
Owned by Tata (2007-)
At the end of 2007 (the formal announcement was delayed until 25 March 2008), it became generally known that India’s Tata Group had completed arrangements to purchase Jaguar and Daimler.
Tata had spoken to the press of plans to properly relaunch England’s oldest car marque. In July 2008 Tata Group, the current owners of Jaguar and Daimler, announced they were considering transforming Daimler into “a super-luxury marque to compete directly with Bentley and Rolls-Royce”. Until the early 1950s it was often said “the aristocracy buy Daimlers, the nouveau riche buy Rolls-Royce”.
Current status
The Daimler Company Limited, now The Daimler Motor Company Limited, is still registered as active and accounts are filed each year though it is currently marked “non-trading”. Until 20 December 1988 its name was The Daimler Company Limited.
All the Daimler shares were purchased from BSA by Jaguar Cars in 1960. After the introduction of the Daimler DR450 new models used Jaguar bodies with Daimler grilles and badging. Daimler remains in the ownership of Jaguar Cars which now belongs to Tata Group of India.
Before 5 October 2007 Jaguar, while still controlled by Ford, reached agreement to permit then de-merging DaimlerChrysler to extend its use of the name Daimler. The announcement of this agreement was delayed until the end of July 2008 and made by Jaguar’s new owner, Tata.
By 2007, Jaguar’s use of the Daimler brand was limited to one model, the Super Eight, which was to be last Daimler model to be produced.
In 2009, Jaguar lost the right to trademark the Daimler name in the United States.
Other concerns of similar name
In 1895, the Daimler Motor Syndicate obtained from Gottlieb Daimler and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) the right to use the Daimler name and the British rights to Daimler’s patents. This is the sole link between the British and German entities. The Daimler Motor Syndicate sold these rights to the Daimler Motor Company in 1896, which was bought by BSA in 1910 and renamed The Daimler Company. Jaguar Cars bought the Daimler Company in 1960 and renamed it Daimler Motor Company in 1988.
Austro-Daimler bought similar rights from DMG to use the Daimler name and patents in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austro-Daimler was later absorbed into Steyr-Daimler-Puch. The automotive division of this corporation was eventually absorbed by Magna International and renamed Magna Steyr. The military vehicle division was renamed Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug GmbH (SSF) and was bought by General Dynamics.
DMG used the Daimler name on all its cars until 1901, when it began using the Mercedes name on some of its cars. After 1908, all DMG cars used the name Mercedes. In 1926, DMG merged with Benz und Cie to form Daimler-Benz. This name continued until 1998 when they merged with the Chrysler Corporation to form DaimlerChrysler in 1998. Upon selling Chrysler in 2007, the company was renamed Daimler AG.

Daimler another Midlands Motor Company sent to the dogs, to keep British Leyland going. They BL went the same way as all of these big companies who think that they are safe and cannot go the same way as the companies they destroy.



Swallow Dotti




No. 1262 REG No.VTN 793
Swallow Doretti No.1264 Reg No. VTN 793. Brian Jenkins
Introduction by Cyril Harvey
Very little has been written about Swallow Doretti cars used for rallying or racing. Brian Jenkins has kindly written about his experiences with VTN 793. If other members know of information about Dorettis in competition, I should be pleased to hear from you.
My interest in motor sport turned to enthusiasm with the holding of the two local race meetings in 1951 and 1954 at Fairwood Aerodrome. I then joined the Swansea Motor Club who jointly organised those events, and began to compete in their rallies and auto tests driving Austin Seven specials, and Jensen bodied A40 sports. The first sports car I really wanted was a triumph engined Morgan Plus Four, but my parents thought that the A40 was more suitable for a Teenager. The A40 sports (ODE242) however altered my thoughts on how a “modern” sports car should look, so after about a year of events, which included the London ally held in Mid Wales, I saw an advert, with very full description, for a Swallow Doretti, having previously learnt from the factory that all new cars had been allocated and sold. I thought that the Doretti was the ideal car with such excellent modern lines, a strong chassis and super performance from the TR2 engine.
I then got in touch with the advertisers, Mercury Motors of Wembley! They suggested bringing the Doretti to Gloucester, where my father and I would meet J H Staveley, bringing the A40 sports with us. We arrived on the Gloucester ring road to see under a bridge a gleaming silver sports car, which looked more like a Frazer Nash of treble the price. An amicable deal was agreed to part exchange the A40 sports for £425 against the price wanted for the Doretti, of £845.
I then remember driving VTN back via Tintern in the Wye Valley, where we stayed overnight, (no motorways or bypasses in Wales in 1955). The deep exhaust note reverberating between stone walls and houses in village streets, was a musical revelation after the A40.
VTN was finished in metallic grey with a light maroon hood and tonneau cover with toning leather bucket seats, scuttle and door rolls. It was fitted with wire wheels, but not an overdrive. VTN was a unique looking Doretti; for instead of the usual teardrop bulge on the bonnet, it had two air scoops fore and aft (the grilles were from the heater intake of the Morris Oxford Mk2). These were added to reduce heat in the cockpit on long runs from Newcastle to London, often travelled by the first owners, Mr and Mrs Hayman (according to J H Staveley), This modification gave the car a more aggressive and purposeful look, than the standard cars. I then competed in rallies with VTN, winning some class awards and winning outright the Carmarthen Rally, and competing in the 1956 London rally, held in South West Wales. My navigator D F Evans and I just about finished hours late, after D F E had suffered some car sickness, not surprising considering the lanes, rough tracks, fields and river beds, we had traversed that night! Incidentally, at this time. Such events were dominated by TR2s, but a Doretti, even in 1956, was a great rarity. I then concentrated on entering auto tests, because I had difficulty in keeping navigators for long, mainly because they wanted to drive on their own account. I had some success in these tests, winning several local events, and was picked for the Pembrokeshire Motor Club Team in the National Blackpool Tests in 1956 and 1957, and also as a reserve for the Wales Team in the 1958 Ken Wharton Memorial tests at Chateau Impney, Droitwich.
About this time, the tiny Berkeley 500 was winning all the English auto tests, so I bought the demonstration car from the local agents (TCY 622). This proved to be a fantastic car, for that specialised sport, and after winning the Welsh Driving Championship at Aberystwyth, I was picked for the Wales Team for the 1959 Ken Wharton Memorial TV Tests in Dudley; however, VTN was there again, attending as tow car for the Berkeley. In 1960 and 1961, I continued to tow with the Doretti, by now a Berkeley B105 (XCY 887) to auto tests, but increasingly to local sprints and hill climbs, Castel Farm, Llandow, Lydstep, Pembrey and Pontypool Park, when I often entered both cars. By this time VTN was over six years old, but usually beat new MGAs, Austin Healeys and TR3s.
The road holding of the Doretti, was safe and predictable, for I never recall having a “moment” in all the time I competed with VTN. The bodychassis unit, was so strong and rigid, that the doors never dropped or rattled and scuttle shake, was entirely absent. In 1961 I came across an Aston Martin DB2/4 coupe for sale at a garage at Barons Cross, Leominster, and then part exchanged VTN for the DB2/4 (MVJ 974), and until I contracted TR Action and Cyril Harvey, who put me in touch with the present owner Ray Wilton, I had not heard of the car for 33 years.
After a few years with the DB2/4, which had become too heavy for competition, I went back to my first love, a Morgan, and back to a Triumph engine, perhaps the most effective competition application of the TR2/3/4 power unit, the Lawrence-Tune engine installed in a Plus Four Super Sports which I raced for some years before selling it in 1980.
I gained nearly all my early competition and invaluable speed experience, with the Doretti and consider it was a most underrated car. What a pity it did not survive long enough to have the later engines, or even the Lawrence-Tuned unit! What might have been; comfort and performance way above the average, for the time. When I went to order the Plus Four SS at the Morgan factory, I mentioned that I had owned a Doretti to peter Morgan, he replied, “Oh yes, the Doretti was a very good sports car. In fact it was too good really”
I am so pleased to know that VTN exists, and is now being sympathetically restored, and that I and all Swallow Doretti enthusiasts will soon be able to see the result of such painstaking restoration work.
The above is taken word for word from the above pictures, However I do not have the photos which appear in the article, and I cannot say which publication the original came from as it does not seem to be on the scans.


A POTTED HISTORY OF GUY MOTORS ( Part1 start till 1950)

Guy Motors of Wolverhampton continuously produced powered vehicles for 68 years. It was the Black Country’s longest surviving powered vehicle manufacturer. Guy was, and still is, well known both at home and abroad for its coaches, buses, and commercial vehicles, which are fondly remembered.
Guy survived recessions and hard times thanks to its ability to produce innovative products, mainly due to its skilled design team. Industrial relations in the factory were second to none. Although wages in the factory were slightly lower than elsewhere, people were generally happy and contented during their time with the company, as can be seen from the high number of long service awards for people with 20 years service.
Guy Motors became what it was thanks to the drive, enthusiasm, and engineering ability of its founder, Sydney Slater Guy, who founded the business in 1914, and ran it until retirement in 1957 at the age of 72. Guy Motors was founded by Sydney Slater Guy, a clever and ambitious young man, who had the determination to succeed. He was born in 1885, and grew up in King’s Heath, Birmingham.
At the age of 16 he joined the Bellis and Morcom steam engineering Company, at Ladywood, Birmingham, after being offered a job in the factory. His employers were clearly delighted with their new member of staff because they soon offered him an apprenticeship. He attended evening classes at the local technical school, which stood him in good stead for the future. In 1906 he obtained the post of service manager for Humber at Coventry.
In June 1909 he joined the up and coming Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited, in Upper Villiers Street, Wolverhampton, as works manager. The company soon became well known thanks to Sunbeam’s flamboyant chief engineer, Louis Coatalen, who had joined Sunbeam in February of that year.
During Sydney’s first 4 years at Sunbeam, production greatly increased, and profits soared, so he naturally wanted some reward for his efforts. At the time he had an annual salary of £250, and the use of a company car. In 1913 he asked the directors for an increase in salary, which was refused. This possibly led to him leaving Sunbeam the following year.
Sydney Guy had clearly been thinking about, and planning his own manufacturing business whilst still at Sunbeam. The design for a 30 cwt. lorry was produced in a small drawing office in Wolverhampton, in late 1913, and plans were made for the factory which would be built the following year, in Park Lane, Fallings Park, Wolverhampton. Guy Motors Limited was registered on the same day that he left Sunbeam, Saturday, 30th May, 1914, and building work on the new Guy factory rapidly got underway.
At the time, a great deal of new industrial development was taking place in the Fallings Park area. Previously factories had been sited closer to the town centre and to the canal and railway network. But by this time there was less reliance on these modes of transport, particularly in the motor industry, and in any event, no space would have been available nearer the centre, especially for new factories which required greater floor space. Guy’s new factory was in production by September 1914, nearly one month after the outbreak of the FirsThe company’s first product, a 30 cwt. lorry, included several new and innovative design features, and was used as the basis for the first Guy passenger vehicle, a 14-seater post bus, with a mail compartment, built for use in Scotland between Achnasheen railway station, east of Kinlochewe, and Aultbea, on the west coast, north of Loch Maree.
The vehicle was powered by a White and Poppe 4-cylinder, side-valve petrol engine, with a cone clutch and gearbox, mounted on a sub-frame, suspended at 3 points. This arrangement prevented any distortion of the chassis, when traversing uneven ground, being transmitted to the engine or gearbox. The gearbox had a direct drive in 3rd gear for use when fully laden, and an indirect 4th gear for use when travelling ‘light’, a facility that later became known as ‘overdrive’. Another innovation was a governor, which only acted on 4th gear to limit the top speed to 30 mph.
In 1915 the factory came under the control of the Ministry of Munitions, and concentrated on war work.
30 cwt.lorries continued in production and were supplied to the Russian army.
Other products included engines for tanks, aero engines, and depth charge firing mechanisms.
Guy became the largest manufacturer of depth charge firing mechanisms in the country.
In 1917 the company was asked to produce A.B.C. ‘Wasp’ 7 cylinder, air cooled, radial aero engines.
The project was clearly a success because during the following year Guy built the prototype A.B.C. ‘Dragonfly’ 9 cylinder, 350 hp. radial aero engine.
The prototype was built and tested in just 24 days, following the receipt of the order.
The government was delighted, and Guy received the following telegram from Sir William Weir, Secretary of State for Air:
Reference to your telegram of yesterday regarding dragonfly engine. I heartily congratulate you on your magnificent performance, the result of which it is hoped will mark a new milestone in progress.
Thanks to the many ministry orders, Guy prospered during the war. The company became an established name, and the factory greatly increased in size. By the end of the war it was well equipped with some of the latest plant and machinery.
Production of civilian vehicles restarted in 1919, during a difficult time for the industry. At the end of the war all military contracts had been cancelled, and the Army Disposal Board sold large numbers of ex-military vehicles at extremely low prices. They flooded the market, and made it almost impossible to sell new products. Many vehicle manufacturers, including Guy Motors found it difficult to survive.
The company continued to be innovative, launching the Guy 8-cylinder car, powered by the first British V8 engine, with inclined valves, and inclined, detachable cylinder heads. Around 150 Guy cars were produced between 1919 and 1925, when production ended.
Production of the 30 cwt. chassis continued in a range of models including the Guy Charabanc, a 14-seater with a 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed plus reverse gearbox, cone clutch, double reduction rear axle, and pressed steel frame. It was also fitted with carbide lamps. In 1920 experiments were carried out with the Holden pneumatic suspension system, in an attempt to improve passenger comfort. The idea was abandoned with the introduction of Dunlop and Goodyear pneumatic truck tyres.
In 1921 Guy produced a 30-seater bus, based on the successful 30 cwt. chassis, with the governor removed. The vehicle became very successful, and large numbers were produced.
1922 saw the development of the Guy Promenade Runabout, based on a special version of the ‘J’ chassis. It had small wheels and a low floor to provide easy access for passengers. The vehicle, first supplied to Bournemouth, was also used at many other seaside resorts including Portsmouth.
Guy began to build military vehicles in 1923 under a government subsidy. The first vehicles were 30 cwt. and 2½ ton trucks with pneumatic tyres. The Guy slogan “Feathers In Our Cap” became well known thanks to the Red Indian mascot that was fitted to almost every vehicle. It all started with an advert on January 22nd, 1924 which pointed out some of the many repeat orders received at the works. The feathers in the advert reminded people of a Red Indian head dress, and so the mascot eventually appeared. The slogan was always, and will always be associated with Guy Motors. In 1924 Guy produced the UK’s first dropped-frame chassis, designed for use with passenger vehicles.
At the time, other manufacturers simply adapted goods vehicle chassis for passenger work.
The dropped-frame chassis enabled passengers to enter the bus via a single step, and became extremely popular. Soon after the chassis was introduced, Guy received an order for 170 buses from an operator in Rio de Janeiro.
The chassis was available in 3 models:
The ‘BA’ with a 13 ft. 4 inch wheelbase, suitable for a 20 passenger body.
The ‘B’ with a 15 ft. 3 inch wheelbase, suitable for a 20 to 25 passenger body.
The ‘BB’ with a 16 ft. 5 inch wheelbase, suitable for a 30 passenger body.
n 1926 much of the country’s industry was brought to a standstill by the general strike, which lasted for 10 days, from the 3rd of May until the 13th of May. It was called by the TUC in an unsuccessful attempt to protect coal miner’s wages and working conditions.
Many companies were badly affected by the strike, but luckily at Guy Motors only a few employees came out on strike, due to the excellent industrial relations at the factory.
After the strike, Sydney Guy formed a works committee to liaise with employees and management in a case of dispute. All employees had to sign a declaration stating that they would follow a standard procedure, and would not undertake any industrial action until the procedure had been completed. They agreed to notify the works committee in writing, about any dispute, and the works committee in turn, had to discuss the matter with management, and reply in writing within 48 hours. If the reply was unsatisfactory, the works committee could then refer the matter to the relevant trade union representative, who could communicate with the managing director. The system worked extremely well, and Guys remained strike free. By 1925 it was obvious that larger capacity buses were becoming a necessity because of the growing population of towns.
As a result, Guy Motors developed a 6-wheeled version of the dropped-frame chassis, which
led to the introduction
of Europe’s first 6-wheeled double decker buses, and the world’s first 6-wheeled trolley buses in 1926, both of which were supplied to Wolverhampton Corporation.
In 1927 a fleet of Guy 6-wheelers were sold to the London Public Omnibus Company and appeared on the streets of London.
They were so successful that the bus company was purchased by the London General Omnibus Company, which later became the London Transport Executive.
Rapid developments in petrol bus design hastened the decline of trams. Many towns and cities decided to invest in trolley buses as a replacement for trams because the electricity generating capability was already at hand. Trolley buses offered many advantages. They pulled to the kerb for loading, were much quieter than trams, more reliable, and cheaper to run. The Guy trolley buses featured Guy’s patented regenerative braking system, which provided electric braking and fed power back into the line.
They were the first of the large number of Guy trolley buses which would be built during the next 36 years, and supplied to operators both in the UK and abroad.. In March, 1927 Jack Bean joined the Board of Guy Motors. He had previously been Managing Director of Bean Cars Limited at Tipton. In 1928 Guy pioneered the 6-wheeled double deck sleeper coach, which ran between London and Manchester.
Until the 1940s, armoured cars were usually based on large touring car chassis. In the mid 1920s Guy developed an armoured car based on the 6-wheeled commercial vehicle chassis, to produce a robust, go anywhere design. The vehicle weighed 9 tons, and had a circular blower-type radiator, and a top speed of 45 mph. In 1928 over 100 of them were supplied to the Indian government.
By the late 1920s the Star Engineering Company Limited of Wolverhampton found itself in trouble because of falling sales. The company produced a small range of commercial vehicles, and high quality cars. In 1928 with production still falling, Star found itself in a precarious financial state. As a result Guy Motors took control through an exchange of shares, though Star continued in existence as a separate company, now called The Star Motor Company Limited.
In 1927 Star launched a new commercial vehicle chassis called the ‘Flyer’ which was developed from a 20-seater low-loading bus chassis. It was powered by a 3.2litre 6-cylinder engine, and sold for £645.
When Sydney Guy decided to take the company over, he either had his eye on the ‘Flyer’, or wanted to re-enter the high quality car market. Most of Star’s production took place in a number of factories in the Frederick Street area of Wolverhampton. The company also had a new factory in Showell Lane, Bushbury, where bodies were built. In 1929 all of the factories around Frederick Street were closed, and production moved to Showell Lane where cars could be built under one roof. The workforce was reduced to around 250, and Guy dropped some of Star’s heavier commercial vehicles that were in direct competition with its own products.
Three cars were available, the 18/50, the 20/60, the occasional 24/70, all with a range of bodies, and a 1¾ ton version of the ‘Flyer’ with vacuum brakes. Under Guy, Star cars retained their quality build and high levels of workmanship, but they were far too expensive for most people, particularly in a time of recession. 1930 saw the introduction of the ‘Comet’, ‘Planet’ and ‘Jason’ series of cars. Around 214 cars were produced that year, the most popular being the 18/50hp. ‘Jason’, selling for £595. Unfortunately a small loss was made on the sale of every vehicle.
At the time, Guy Motors was also in financial difficulties due to the recession, and so couldn’t afford to equip the new Bushbury factory with up-to-date machinery. Star found itself in a desperate situation, and as a result a receiver was appointed in March 1932.

Spares and manufacturing rights were obtained by McKenzie and Denley, of Birmingham, who continued selling spares and servicing Stars into the 1960s. The Frederick Street works were sold to James Gibbons (Windows) Limited, and later to Chadd Castings Limited, who cast aluminium components. The Bushbury factory was sold to Manley & Regulus, makers of plumbing fittings, and later acquired by Delta Metals.
The end of the 1920s was a difficult time for Guy. The company was nearly taken over by the rival lorry and bus manufacturer, Dennis Brothers Limited, of Guildford, Surrey in 1927. Between 1925 and 1929 profits greatly increased, but during the recession following the Wall Street crash in October 1929, Guy shares fell from one pound to just one shilling. Shareholders lost 95% of their investment in the company, which was caused by the recession, and the purchase of ailing Star. The company came close to collapse, and must have deeply regretted taking over Star.
The early 1930s was a difficult time for the company, due to the depression, which reached an all-time low in 1932, and the emergence of a serious rival in the form of Bedford commercial vehicles, launched by General Motors in 1931. Trade didn’t start to pick-up until 1933. Luckily Guy continued to develop military vehicles, and was sustained by many orders from the War Office. It was a worrying time for the country due to the goings-on in Germany as a result of the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party.
The 1930 Road Traffic Act greatly influenced the construction of commercial vehicles. A 30 mph. speed limit was imposed on all goods vehicles with an unladen weight of up to 50 cwt. Vehicles weighing more were not allowed to exceed 20 mph. This encouraged the development of lighter vehicles.
In 1933 Guy launched the ‘Arab’ bus chassis, the first bus chassis designed for use with a diesel engine. It was designed for use with the Gardner ‘LW’ range of engines, and had vacuum-hydraulic brakes. Although sales were not very good in the 1930s, when around 60 were built, later versions of the design would sell in extremely large numbers, and allow the company to flourish until well into the 1950s
An additional feature was incorporated in the Guy 4-wheel double-deck trolley buses operated by Wolverhampton Corporation.
The vehicles were equipped with two 24 volt batteries, which were connected in parallel for lighting, but if required for manoeuvring, they were then connected in series to give 48 volts. This was sufficient to power the vehicles for a distance of 2 or 3 miles, without the use of the overhead power lines.
This feature had many advantages; for instance, if a driver wanted to take his vehicle into the depot, or manoeuvre in the depot, it was possible to do so without the assistance of the overhead wires.
The development of the all-important Guy military vehicles continued with the launch of 6-wheel and 8-wheel driven vehicles which could go almost anywhere, even across a 6 ft. wide trench, without falling into it. In 1935 Guy Motors was invited to take part in army trials at Llangollen. The company submitted the ‘Ant’, a new 4-wheeled vehicle with a payload of 15 cwt., and a short wheelbase. After performing well at the trial, Guy received an order for 150. After receiving the order from the Government, Guy Motors began to concentrate on the production of military vehicles. By 1938 the production of vehicles for the civilian market completely ceased when Guy relied exclusively on Government contracts. It would be some years before the production of vehicles for the civilian market recommenced.
In 1938 Guy Motors produced the first British rear-engined, 4-wheel drive, armoured car, as a development of the ‘Quad Ant’. It had a hull and turret of bullet-proof, homogeneous hard unmachinable plate, which was welded instead of riveted together. Until this time it was assumed that it was impossible to weld the plate.
Welded construction had many advantages. It reduced the number of casualties resulting from ‘splash’, and rivet heads flying around the inside of the tank. It reduced the price of material for each tank by eliminating the machining of the plate. The vehicle was far more waterproof, and could enter water of a greater depth.
The Government technical department advised that it was impossible to commercially weld the material, and so Guy offered to weld the first batch ordered, and if unsuccessful, to stand the cost. The vehicles were welded, and on examination by the military, the technique was found to work extremely well. As a result it became standard practice and saved the country an estimated 100 million pounds.
The new development was put at the government’s disposal, for the duration of the war, and Guy received an award from the Royal Commission for developing the technique. At the beginning of the war, Guy’s chief engineer went to Mersa Matruh in North Africa to see the Guy armoured vehicles in operation in the North Africa Campaign. The vehicles performed well and gave good service.
Many Guy military vehicles travelled to Dover, at the beginning of the war. They were taken to France for use by the British troops. When the country was invaded by the Germans, and the allied troops were evacuated in May 1940, the vehicles, like many others, were driven over the cliffs at Dunkirk to prevent them falling into the hands of the enemy.
Shortly after the start of the war, production of the ‘Ant’ and ‘Quad Ant’ range moved to Karrier. Guy did however, produce some armoured bodies. 21 Guy ‘Lizard’ armoured command vehicles were produced in the factory, as were several 4×4 universal gun carriers. The factory also produced anti-aircraft, and other guns thanks to the company’s reputation for high quality, precision work.
Production of searchlight generator vehicles soon ended due to the development of radar. Some civilian vehicle production did take place at Park Lane due to a shortage of vans and lorries for essential services and supplies. Each vehicle required a government permit in order for it to be built.
Around the same time as production of searchlight generators ended, Guy received an order from the Ministry of Supply for the production of a chassis suitable for a use with a double-deck bus body. At the time there was a severe shortage of buses, many of which had been lost in the blitz. The specification had been completed on 5th September, 1941, and the prototype was ready on 31st March, 1942. The new vehicle, called the ‘Arab’ utility double deck bus was based on the original ‘Arab’ bus chassis from 1933. Due to the shortage of materials, the aluminium parts were made of cast iron, which increased the chassis weight by 20%. Great attention was paid to increasing the life of components, and the time between vehicle overhauls. The new bus gained favour with many operators because of its reliability and low running costs.
The buses were supplied with 5-cylinder Gardner ‘5LW’ engines, other than a few that were built to operate in hilly areas, which had the larger Gardner ‘6LW’.
Sydney Guy’s son Robin joined Guy Motors in the autumn of 1941 after leaving school. He started in the drawing office, and worked on the ‘Arab’ utility bus. He joined the navy, then trained at Gardner Engines in Manchester.
Initially Guy was the only wartime manufacturer of double deck bus chassis, until December 1942 when Daimler received an order from the ministry for some ‘CWG5′ chassis. Daimler’s factory in Coventry had been badly damaged during the air raids, and so production began at a factory commissioned for the purpose by the Ministry of Supply. This turned out to be part of Courtaulds’ factory in Wolverhampton. So for a time, all UK double deck bus chassis were built in Wolverhampton.
Over 2,700 Guy bus chassis were built during the war. The orders not only kept Guy going at the time, but also established the company as one of the leading suppliers of bus chassis, which led to the continuation of orders for many years to come.
During the war the factory worked long hours to keep up with the demand for vehicles and components. Employees worked from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 8 a.m. until 12.30 p.m. on Sundays.
There was a severe shortage of labour, which was solved by the company in a manner that made history, and changed the law.
At the time, part-time workers were not eligible for national insurance, and so would not look for work through the labour exchange.
As a result Sydney Guy instigated a scheme which resulted in him being threatened with imprisonment and fines. Fortunately the Ministry of Employment quickly realised that such a scheme was a necessity, and so similar schemes were set up throughout the country.
Guy gave senior pupils and teachers from local schools, the opportunity of doing voluntary war work during their holidays. They were employed on the assembly jigs for the bodies of army trucks.
Over 1,000 people answered the initial advertisement. The response was so great that a separate department was set up to organise the scheme.
When the pupils and teachers were at school, part-time women workers took their place during the day, with business and professional men, doing a night shift.
One of the first, and most enthusiastic volunteers was Judge Caporn, a County Court Judge.
Guy Motors participated in the National Savings Scheme, and Sydney Guy gave six pence on each certificate purchased. The company also produced its own I.D. card with photo and finger prints on the back.
During the war the scope of advertising was greatly restricted, and so Guy started a clever campaign in order to keep the company’s name alive. The campaign was influenced by the widespread interest in crosswords, and the ‘Brains Trust’ on the radio, which provided relief from the problems of war.
It consisted of a series of clever adverts entitled ‘Transport through the Syzygies’ which gained a lot of interest. People at first thought ‘syzygies’ was a spelling mistake, until it appeared time, after time.
Guy received many letters from people expressing their ideas about the word, which was in fact used in its astronomical sense, meaning a computation of time.
In 1946 post war production got underway with the introduction of a single deck ‘Arab’ and the reintroduction of the pre-war version of the ‘Arab’ double decker. The single deck version had a 17 ft. 6 inch wheelbase, and in common with the double deck model had a Wilson preselective, epicyclic, constant mesh gearbox, and a friction clutch. All chassis were road tested by travelling from the factory to Bridgnorth and back. In 1948 Guy Motors acquired Sunbeam Commercial Vehicles Limited from Brockhouse, which had owned Sunbeam for 2 years. From then-on all Guy trolleybuses carried the Sunbeam name. Also in 1948 Guy made an agreement with Park Royal, which allowed the company to produce double deck bodywork on Park Royal frames. Initially trolleybus production continued at Moorfield Works, but in 1953 production moved to the Guy factory in Park Lane, were an extension had been built to the machine shop. Trolley buses continued to see well. By the mid 1950s there were more Sunbeam trolley buses in South Africa than the total of all other makes.

The Swallow Coachbuilding Company

I think that maybe it’s time to call a halt to this, so at least for a while i will be leaving the swallow to fly the coupe (so as to speak) I don’t want each post to be just like the last, There are numerous pieces about individual cars, but they are more or less the same, being sold at auction, as full a rundown of the history, how the car was refurbished or rebuilt, and even though they are interesting I reckon that they could become a bore. So whilst the viewing figures are out of my world, I will finish with (a) a short potted history and (b) a longer version. You can be the judges of which is the best as I have to get back to my story of Guy’s of Wolverhampton.

 (a)   From Austin Swallow to Swallow Doretti

The Swallow Doretti was built by the Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Limited. But the origins of the company date back to 1922 when William Lyons and William Walmsley established the Swallow Sidecar Company. From the initial manufacture of distinctive motorcycle sidecars at its works in Blackpool the company moved on to building bodies on Austin Seven chassis. In May 1927 the Austin Swallow two-seater made its public debut. They may have been diminutive, but their looks were nevertheless elegant and refined, echoing in many ways what others were doing on bigger vehicles, but displayed a very distinctive styling. Also in 1927, the firm’s name was changed to the Swallow Sidecar and Coachbuilding Company. By 1928 the volume of work had increased to the point that a move to a new factory in Coventry was made to be nearer to suppliers and a larger pool of skilled labour. Until 1931 production was of custom built bodies on a number of other manufacturer’s chassis in a variety of body styles from open tourers to four seater saloons, all built using aluminum over wood frame bodies. Some of the chassis used included Austin, Wolseley, Standard, Morris and Fiat.
Swallow cars were generally sporty looking, but the problem was that their looks were not backed up by performance from the chassis and engines used. William Lyons wanted a way to gain more control over his finished product, and, in 1931 was able to reach agreement with Sir John Black of the Standard Motor Company, to produce and sell to him a modified chassis with the Standard 6 cylinder engine. This was to be the basis for Lyons first total design, which was the car that came to be called the SS.
By 1931 the Sidecar title had been dropped, although sidecars were still being turned out at a steady rate. As Swallow Coachbuilding continued to expand, so did the range of cars it worked on. Lyons branched out into bigger, more powerful chassis and a particular look started to predominate. At the London Motor Show in October 1931, the company unveiled its first efforts as a motor manufacturer with the rakish SS1. The SS might have stood for Standard Swallow or even Swallow Sports, the name of the original sidecar.
Another name change occurred in 1933 when the company became SS Cars Limited. The name change came about because Lyons’ firm was now less about building sidecars, far more about car construction. SS stood, depending on which version you believe, for Standard-Swallow, Swallow Standard, Standard Special or Swallow Special. Be as it may, Swallow Coachbuilding manufactured the S.S. I and S.S. II models until 1936 when a new company, S.S. Cars Ltd. was formed to produce the automobiles. The old company name was kept for the firm that manufactured sidecars. Two years later in 1935 the production of sidecars and motor vehicles was split between two separate companies; The Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Ltd and SS Cars Limited.
World War II placed motor cars production and designing on hold as factories were converted to weapon manufacturing and it also signaled the end of SS Cars Ltd, the name having acquired a dark and sinister connotation with Hitler’s regime.
Immediately after the war, in 1945, when car production resumed the decision was made to change the the name of SS Cars Ltd to Jaguar Cars Ltd. At the same time Lyons decided to divest himself of the sidecar business and concentrate his efforts on motor vehicle production. Negotiations about the disposal of the Swallow Coachbuilding Company with Eric Sanders resulted in the sale of the motor-cycle sidecar business to Helliwells, a manufacturer of aircraft components based at Walsall Airport. Production of Swallow sidecars continued at the Walsall Airport works along with the Swallow Gadabout a motor-scooter designed by Frank Rainbow.
In 1950 the Helliwell Group, including Swallow Coachbuilding, was acquired by Tube Investments Ltd, and Swallow became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the giant TI Group.
Early in 1953 Frank Rainbow began work on the design of the Swallow Doretti, a sportscar which was built at the Walsall Airport works from 1954 to 1955. About 276 cars were constructed before production was abruptly halted by a complely unexpected management decision from the TI Group, the parent company of the Swallow Coachbuilding Company.


(b) History of Swallow sidecars

Swallow “Doretti” sports cars were built in the 1950s at Walsall Airport by the Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Limited, part of the Helliwell Group.

The story however begins in the early 1920s in Blackpool.

It all began when Bill Lyons met William Walmsley who had just moved to Blackpool from Stockport. They both lived in King Edward Avenue, Blackpool and were interested in motorcycles. Bill Lyons was a motorcycle enthusiast, and William Walmsley built sidecars in his parents’ garage, and attached them to reconditioned motorcycles. Bill met William when he purchased a sidecar for his own motorcycle. He persuaded him to expand the business with himself as a partner.
On 4th September, 1922 they formed the Swallow Sidecar Company, funded by financial backing from both their families and a bank overdraft. They began to produce sidecars in a 2 storey building in Bloomfield Road, with 8 employees. Space soon became a problem and two other factory buildings were acquired, one in Woodfield Road, and another in John Street.
They decided to extend their product range to include car bodies, which meant that a much larger factory was essential. As luck would have it, a modern purpose-built coachbuilding factory was up for sale at 41 Cocker Street. Walmsley’s father had just sold his coal business and so decided to invest the proceeds in the building, which he purchased, and rented to Swallow for £325 a year. Late in 1926 the company vacated their other premises and moved into the building, which was ideal for their purpose. In 1927 the company name was changed to The Swallow Sidecar and Coach Building Company.
One of Swallow’s suppliers was A.J.S. of Wolverhampton. A.J.S. built sidecars at Lower Walsall Street Works and sold them under the C. W. Hayward name, later changed to “Graiseley” sidecars. Swallow was one of the company’s best sidecar customers.
Swallow began to purchase new Austin Seven chassis from a dealer in Bolton and fit them with a luxurious, stylish, 2-seater, open tourer body, made of aluminium on a wooden frame. The car, which made its first appearance in May 1927 was called the Austin Seven Swallow and sold for £175. It was popular, and in 1928 a 4-seater saloon was launched, along with the Morris Cowley Swallow. They soon received an order for 50 Austin Seven Swallows from P. J. Evans of Birmingham, and before the year was out, received an order for 500 from Henly’s in London.
From Blackpool to Coventry
In Blackpool they could only produce two a day, and there was a shortage of skilled labour, making it difficult to expand. They decided to move to an old 40,000sqft. ammunition factory at Foleshill in Coventry, where there was plenty of space, a large skilled workforce on the doorstep, and in close proximity to their suppliers, which would reduce transport costs. The move was made late in 1928 and production increased to around 50 cars a week. Although the company still made sidecars, the name was changed yet again, to the Swallow Coachbuilding Company.
The following year the company extended the product range and began to build car bodies on Standard, Swift and Fiat chassis. The new models were launched at the 1929 Motor Show, including the Standard Swallow, a large saloon that sold for £245. By 1931 they also produced their own version of the Wolseley Hornet, and the Hornet Special.
Bill Lyons’ ambition was to become a car manufacturer, producing complete cars. He began by arranging for the Standard Motor Company to produce a chassis to Swallow’s design, that was fitted with a Standard Engine. This formed the basis of the successful S.S.1 Coupé which sold for £310. Other models soon appeared including the S.S.1 Tourer. Bill wanted the company to go public, but William Walmsley would have none of it. As a result he decided to let Bill Lyons buy him out, leaving Lyons in sole charge. By the end of 1934 1,800 cars a year were leaving the factory.
In 1935 Bill Lyons founded S.S. Cars Limited. He put the Swallow Coachbuilding Company into voluntary liquidation, and founded the Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Limited. S.S. Cars Limited concentrated on manufacturing cars and later became Jaguar. The Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Limited continued to make sidecars, and was sold to the Helliwell Group when Jaguar was formed in 1945.
Angela and Trevor Davies in their immaculate “Doretti”.

At the 2008 Festival of Black Country Vehicles, at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley.
From Coventry to Walsall
As a result of the sale, the manufacture of Swallow sidecars transferred to Helliwell’s factory at Walsall Airport, where the company manufactured aircraft components. In 1946 Swallow produced the successful “Gadabout” scooter, designed by Frank Rainbow, and in 1950 the Helliwell Group was acquired by the Tube Investments Group.
In the early 1950s thoughts turned to manufacturing a sports car, mainly for the American Market. Early in 1953 Swallow’s brilliant designer Frank Rainbow was given the task of designing the car, on the understanding that the first production model had to leave the factory within 9 months. He quickly got down to work on the project and the first car arrived in Southern California in September of that year.
A “Doretti” outside Helliwell’s factory at Walsall Airport.


From ‘Flight’ magazine, January 1954.
The 2-seater car is based on the Triumph TR2. Standard Triumph agreed to supply TR2 engines, gearboxes, axles, and suspension units. The bodies were made by Panelcraft Limited, Woodgate, Birmingham. The car has a tubular steel chassis, a 2-litre engine, and a double skinned body with a steel inner shell, and alloy outer shell.
The car is called the “Doretti”, an Italianised version of Dorothy, named after Dorothy Deen, the daughter, and business partner of Arthur Anderson, the importer and distributor for Swallow and Triumph in Southern California.
Although in competition with the TR2 the “Doretti” was more expensive, selling for £1,102 compared with £910 for a TR2. It was also heavier and so had a poorer performance, and less room for driver and passenger alike. Production lasted until 1955 during which time around 275 were built. The chassis numbers start at 1,000 and end at 1,274.


Production at Walsall. From a newspaper cutting, newspaper unknown.(maybe The Walsall Observer)

Another view of Angela and Trevor Davies in their “Doretti”.
At the 2008 Festival of Black Country Vehicles, at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley.

Unfortunately Sir John Black, Chairman of the Standard Triumph Motor Company was badly injured in an accident, while driving a “Doretti”. Because of this the car became unpopular at his company.
Production ended prematurely because of a management decision taken at Tube Investments, the parent company. Plans had been made to release a new model the Swallow “Sabre”, but sadly this had to be abandoned.
In 1956 the Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Limited was sold to sidecar manufacturer Watsonian.
Unlike many cars, the Swallow “Doretti” has been very successful in preservation. Out of the 275 built, 184 are known to exist, 66 of them in the UK.
1055 1055b 1055engine 1055interior

Some views of the  “Doretti”.number 1055

One final thought, I have some material from magazines of the time, but until I have the time to transcribe them I am not able to blog them as they are not readable when inserted into a blog, (I have tested) These articles are from both sides of the pond and I will get around to doing them so keep a look out if your interested!

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

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.