Wally Swift, A Rememberance
By Rande Bellman
August, 2002

It made perfect sense that when I started to research information on the Internet about Wally Swift, a giant in the Tiger hobby, almost all of the listings were related to autocrossing.

I don't think anyone who knew him was surprised that when he died March 10, he was attending an autocross, for that is how most of us will remember him; behind the wheel of his Forest Green Alpine V with the Tiger 2 wheel well moldings, narrowly missing pylons, beating the times of most of his Sunbeam chums on the course. He was 81 when he died, he was still autocrossing. I stopped serious autocrossing when I was 27, and he was still doing it at 81.

My very first opportunity to meet Wally started off , at least for me, on an atypical note. I was at the concours portion of a Tigers East / Alpines East United in Dayton, Ohio. It was a very hot and humid August day, the organizers had underestimated the demand for soft drinks, particularly Wallys, and Wallys' pale white face started glowing red as he reminded th e organizers about the shortcoming. Finally, one of the guys in charge calmly handed him some money, and directed him to shove off and buy himself more on his own. This, of course, didn't end the discourse. I once overheard someone describing a member as a "Wally-In-Training"and I know it wasn't a term of endearment.

My overriding recollection of Wally comes from the 2000 Tigers East / Alpines East United in Portland, Maine. Wally and his friends had intended to tow his Alpine V and his very original red Tiger up from their homes in Maryland. About 60 miles from their home, someone following in another car rammed, without slowing down, the back of the pristine Tiger, forcing both tow car and Tiger off of the road. The Tiger was severely damaged and towed home, but Wally and friends did leave again for Portland. I heard about the wreck, and naturally assumed that Wally would be staying home, so I was pleasantly surprised to see him at the concours with the Alpine. Still a littl e dazed from having his Tiger wiped out (someone else was driving the Tiger tow car) he was nonetheless chatty and circumspect about the accident.

The next day of the United, I drove down to the autocross site near downtown Portland, and there was a helmeted Wally and the green Alpine halfway through the course.

To prepare this article, I combed my Sunbeam photo collection for pictures of Wally, and I couldn't find any head shots of him, just the ubiquitous green Alpine V and a helmeted head visible.The ver y last time I saw Wally was in September 2001 when a group of us met near Washington DC for a weekend gathering. Wally, who lived nearby, had brought the Alpine, as well as the repaired red Tiger. Always the generous and talkative friend, he mingled with all of us,

Helped some newcomers to the hobby with questions about their cars(he was a factory representative for Chrysler Motors / Rootes before Sunbeams stopped being imported to the United States).

As one of my Tiger friends used to remind me, there are lot's of interesting cars out there, the factor that separates the Tiger clan are the people involved in the hobby. Wally was certainly one of those that comes to my mind. It's going to be very tough to be at another Tiger event knowing that Wally won't be there.

Rande Bellman

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