The Staff of Motorsport Marketing
The Staff of Motorsport Marketing Writer
11/15/17 9:26 a.m.


Story and Photos by Dan Scanlan

Imagine the year 1956: Dwight D. Eisenhower is president; Congress has just said “yea” to the Highway Act and put our interstate system into motion; “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Don’t Be Cruel” are rockin’ the radio; and gasoline is 20 cents a gallon.

Now picture Robert E. Lee High School in balmy Jacksonville, Florida. On a typical school day, its dirt parking lot houses American metal like a 1951 Chevy and a “real fast” Chrysler coupe—as well as one small, white 1954 Swallow Doretti.

A what?

It’s understandable if you don’t recognize the name. Only about 275 of these Italian-named roadsters were made between 1954 and 1955, representing the last gasp of a company that started out making motorcycle sidecars.

There’s a bit of AC Ace in the stylish face, some MGA in the tail, and a Triumph under its bonnet. The cozy cockpit was trimmed in leather with proper Jaeger gauges.

Jacksonville native Tommy Entenza was the big man on campus who drove the car. Why get an anemic British roadster when classmates had American iron? Entenza said you could look in the parking lot and “not even see the Doretti because it was so small,” but it was still a great machine.

“It was 90 horsepower, but it would do 100 mph. It was fast,” he says, adding that his classmates loved it.

“They thought it was the neatest—and of course it was—little car that made a nice little sound,” he adds. “And I could scoot all over Jacksonville in it, so a lot of people saw it.”

Entenza eventually sold the Doretti, but one other Jacksonville native—who went on to found the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance—remembers it well. Amelia Chairman Bill Warner worked for Al Sager Motors, where the car was sold.

“When I saw it, I wasn’t sure quite what it was,” he recalls. “It looked like an AC but it wasn’t. I learned at that time that it was a Swallow Doretti, an English car with an Italian kind of name.”

But that’s not the end of the story. Fifty-three years after the sale, another Doretti has refueled the fire of Entenza’s first love. “When Tommy Entenza got [his current Doretti], I was thrilled for him,” adds Warner.

Read the rest of the story

wspohn
wspohn Dork
11/18/17 1:29 p.m.

I used to own one of these. When I tore it down, I was surprised to see that Swallow had anticipated all of the bugs in the early TR-2 design and had fixed them before Triumph did (little things like rear shocks and front lower A arm mounts tearing off the frames etc.....)

Kind of wish I still owned it sometimes....

willjordan
willjordan New Reader
11/20/17 11:36 p.m.

WOW!!!

fiesta54
fiesta54 Reader
11/30/17 8:31 p.m.

I have one set up to vintage race in my shop right now.  Probably taking it to Amelia next year.

dculberson
dculberson PowerDork
11/30/17 8:34 p.m.

Only ever made 275, 60+ years ago, and two of them are accounted for here. (Ok, one in the past, but still..) wow!

fiesta54
fiesta54 Reader
11/30/17 9:53 p.m.

In reply to dculberson :

I was just thinking the same thing.  Came here to say I know of one and couldn't believe someone beat me to it.

Gary
Gary SuperDork
12/1/17 7:53 p.m.

Heh, heh, heh ... she said swallow

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