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  Article Image gallery (21) 1055 Specifications  
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Country of origin:Great Britain
Produced from:1954 - 1955
Numbers built:276
Price new:£1,107
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:October 28, 2011
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn 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.

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  Article Image gallery (21) 1055 Specifications