9 May 2011

Patron saints are watching over these orphans

Editor’s note: This story is a supplement to an article titled “Patron Saints” that was featured in the summer 2011 issue of Hagerty magazine.

For owners of orphan cars, there are “patron saints” across the United States who care as much as you do about your collectible car, and many have devoted their lives to keeping you on the road. If you’ve owned your orphan more than a month, chances are your resource is on quick-dial.

Here are dedicated resources for two such orphans, their specialties and their thoughts.

1968-70 AMERICAN MOTORS AMX

The AMX is a punchy two-seater muscle car from the revitalized American Motors. Power ranges from a 225-hp, 290-ci V-8 to a 315-hp, 390-ci engine. Production: 19,134. MSRP: $3,245-$3,395. Value: $12,000-$35,000.

Doug Noel of the American Parts Depot, West Manchester, Ohio.
937-678-7249,
doug@americanpartsdepot.com , http://www.americanpartsdepot.com/

Q: How did you get involved?

A: I bought my ‘69 AMX when I was 16 and I still have it. My dad was an AMC-Jeep dealer in Sebring, Fla., from 1970 to ‘82 and I was his parts manager. Looking for spares for my AMX in 1989, I found no “full-service” suppliers, so I started my business in 1990.

Q: What is the appeal of these cars?

A: The AMX appeals to traditionalists. It’s a good-looking car, out of the mainstream. There’s underdog appeal and I think they’re undervalued. I love history and I love driving, and when I restored my ’69 in 2003, I drove it 4,000 miles to my 30th high school reunion in Florida 10 days later.

Q: What about parts availability?

A: The parts situation is nothing like Camaros or Mustangs, but compared to 20 years ago, there’s a huge amount available. We have more parts than anybody else, but hoods, fenders and trunks are becoming nonexistent. But we have names and phone numbers for sheet metal, and we refer people to suppliers out West that we trust. We’ve got a good collection of literature from my time with Dad, and I’ve sourced a lot of other books, mostly out of print.

1954-55 SWALLOW DORETTI

The Swallow Doretti was a bold attempt by William Lyons’ (Jaguar) old sidecar business to make an independent sports car, like the Healey 100. It was based on the Triumph TR2 with an aluminum body and tube frame, so it is heavier and more expensive. 90-hp, 1991-cc, 4-cylinder engine. Production: 276. MSRP: approximately $3,150. Value: $13,500-$51,000.

Tom Householder, Doretti Consultant, Vintage Triumph Register, Lancaster, Ohio
trhouse@columbus.rr.com , http://www.doretti.com

Q: How did you get involved?

A: I’ve been at this since the early 1970s, having spent my earlier years with the founding of the Triumph Register. This is Doretti Central as far as history and information goes. I answer questions and steer folks to parts sources. I keep a database on histories and can sometimes connect folks with the early history on their vehicle.

Q: What about parts availability?

A: Doretti mechanicals are TR2 and you can get just about everything for them. There are three major suppliers and you can still find stuff at a tractor store in a pinch. Body panels are the big stumbler for the Doretti, but the aluminum is easier to straighten than steel. I make the grilles, bumpers and floors and other sheet metal that’s unique. Primarily because I needed them for my own cars, I provide patterns for the trim and pieces.

Q: What is the appeal of this vehicle?

A: The Doretti is a beautiful car, well-designed with my faithful old TR engine. I’m a dyed-in-the-wood TR2-3 person who always liked the Healey but couldn’t give up the feel of the TR. With the Doretti, I got both.

The marque is very much alive around the world. Australia New Zealand and England have collections that turn up at meetings. I have traced more than 200 of the fewer than 300 cars built and have tracked down original owners, some with surprising credentials.

 

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