Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Swallow Flies!

Six years later and the Doretti is ready for the road. The hood was made by a local chap in Swansea. He had some mohair material which was left over from a Mercedes soft top and that did very nicely, thank you. His recovering of the seats was pretty good too. Managed to source a brand new windscreen and after searching high and low I even managed to find a supplier for the unique rubber sealing needed to hold it in place. Things were looking up!

With the help of my late father-in-law, Tony Rinaldi, we jury-rigged a tripod hoist in my garage and with a great deal of effort and luck managed to get the engine into the car. It wasn’t long before the straight four TR2 power unit was rumbling away sweetly, a great note and throaty roar burbled its way out of the straight-through exhaust system and woke all the neighbours up.

The first test drive was around the little estate I live on and within days the car was ready for its first M.O.T. in decades. It passed first time. We had a lot of fun with the Doretti even though we never did any long distance driving in her. It’s strange, but after spending all that time and money on the car it worried me each time I took her out! I hated each stone chip, each damned fly that spattered against the paintwork, heaven forbid if someone scratched or bumped her! Even when I cleared most of the rubbish out of my single garage it was a struggle getting her in and out and I wondered how the hell I had ever managed to restore her in such a confined space, needs must, I suppose.

When the time came to the parting of our ways it was a sad but also happy moment (although to look at the photo of me with the money you’d be hard pressed to see the happy part!), sad because the car had been such a big part of my life for quite a few years, but happy because I knew it was going to a good home, Jill Royle, the daughter of one of the owners of an original Doretti dealership. In 2000 Jill sold STT 24 to Eddy de Heus of Loosdrecht in Holland to make room for an extremely rare Doretti Mk2 (HRF 60). As far as I know, Eddy, who is a passionate Doretti collector still has STT 24 and I was extremely pleased to see that he’d even taken the car on a jaunt through the Dordogne. Although I never got to drive her to exotic places like that I feel that a part of me is still with her, bonne chance STT 24…

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