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Calendar of Events
History of the Triumph
As always, see the VTR
for more information.
||The early years of Triumph produced many short-lived
models: 10/20 (At left); production ran from 1923 - 1926, 13/35;
production ran from 1924 - 1926, and the 15; production ran from 1926 -
1930. All told, about 2000 of these cars were produced.
||The later part of the early years saw the Super Seven (At left);
production ran from 1927 - 1932; followed by the Super Eight from 1933 -
1934. Production for both these ran about 17,000. During this
period the Scorpion was built (1931 - 1932) with about 1500 cars being
produced. Several models followed in rapid succession: 12/6
(1932 - 1933), Super Nine (1932 - 1933), Southern Cross 8.9 and 9.8 (1932
- 1934), and the Ten (1933 - 1934). Production from the 12/6 through
the Ten ran about 9000 cars.
||The pre-war era saw Triumph build large touring
automobiles with Donald Healey as technical director. Again, many
models thrived in a relatively short time period. First were the
Gloria and Vitesse from 1933 - 1936 with about 10,000 being built.
(Plus a special edition Gloria called the Monte Carlo) The 1934
Dolomite Straight Eight (at left) with only three prototypes built (two of
which survive today). It was based on an Alfa Romeo design, and it
achieved competition success in the Monte Carlo Rally of 1936, while
driven by Donald Healey. Various Vitesse and Dolomites were built
built between 1937 and 1939. The chief differences being engine size
and body stylings. In all about 6,250 were made of these models.
The last Triumph built in the period was the Twelve. Only 50 were
built in its one year of production: 1939.
||Triumph went bankrupt in 1939 and ceased to be an entity unto its own
at this time.
||The elegant 1800 and 2000 (with
Rumble Seat!) were 4 cylinder cars, produced in several different
versions. From 1946 till 1954 various versions of the Saloon cars
were produced. In all, 6,501 1800s were produced. 13,301 2000s
rolled off the line plus an extra 190 Triumph 2000 Limousines.
||The Mayflower was Standard-Triumph's first
mass produced car, in all, about 35,000 were produced between 1950 and
1953. The Mayflower drop-head (convertible) coupé was produced only
during 1950, with only 10 cars rolling off the production line. None
are known to exist today. The new front coil suspension system would
later be used for the TR-2.
||The first Herald to go on
sale to the general public in April 1959 was what has long since become
one of the rarest versions: The Coupé. The Coupé was soon joined by
a Saloon version, which allowed more room for a full rear seat. By
March 1960, these two models were joined by a Convertible, which offered a
top that folded almost completely out of sight, a full (though cramped)
rear seat and the twin-carb engine. Soon added to the range was an
Estate Wagon and the short-lived Courier van, a "commercial" version of
the Estate wagon alot like the once common delivery versions of American
station wagons. By the end of 1964, the Coupé had disappeared.
By 1970, the rear drive Triumph Toledo and front drive 1500/ 1500TC were
too much competition. The 1200 Saloon disappeared in May 1970, followed by
the 13/60 Saloon in December and the Convertible and Estate cars in May
1971. The Herald was the first production Triumph styled by Giovanni
Michelotti, whose body designs would later be used throughout the Triumph
range, for both sedan cars and sports cars. The Vitesse
was an upscale/sportier version of the Herald (with some front end
restyling) and was launched in 1962. It featured a 1500TC engine and
the car was offered only in Saloon and Convertible versions. Sales tapered
off steadily; the last Vitesse was built in May 1971, only weeks before
Dolomite production began. US MARKET: The Estate was never
officially imported to the US. The Herald 1200 was renamed in 1964
as the Sports 1200. By the late sixties, the Herald and
Sports names were dropped and the US market referred to the car as the
Triumph 1200. Meanwhile, the Vitesse convertible was badged as
the Sports 6 and available for a little over year as a "special
edition." The Vitesse Saloon was never officially imported. For more
information check out The
Triumph Herald Page.
||The 1300 front wheel drive was a radical
departure for Triumph, whose previous model, the Herald, was a traditional
chassis-based design. The car was like a smaller 2000 with all that car's
luxury. The 1300 and 1300 TC ran from 1965-1971. Production: 110,000
- 35,000 TC. To add to the confusion of the range, in 1970 a FWD
(Front Wheel Drive) 1500 was introduced with a 4 door bodyshell
with revised front and rear end treatment. These changes resulted in four
headlamps and the rear end of the later Dolomites. The 1500 FWD ran
from 1970-1973 and the 1500TC RWD from 1973-1975. Production: FWD -
60,000; RWD - 25,000. The Toledo was introduced as a more
traditional car in 1970, the only model in the series to have a two door
body, though there were originally plans to use this body for a sporting
model. The Toldeo ran from 1970 - 1976. Production: ?.
The 1971 Dolomite had an 1850cc engine jointly developed with Saab.
It had the 1500's shell and plush interior with walnut and bri-nylon.
Options included an automatic and overdrive. In 1975 the range was
revamped with Dolomite 1300, 1500 & 1500HL replacing Toledo & 1500TC.
The various versions of the Dolomite ran from 1971 - 1981.
Production: 1300 - 32,000; 1500 - 43,000; 1850 - 79,000. The
Sprint was originally planned to be a 2-door but in the end a luxury
4-door sporting saloon appeared with fantastic performance from its 2
liters and revolutionary 16 valve head. The Sprint ran from 1973 -
1981. For more information check out
The Triumph Dolomite
||The PSF built body of the Triumph 2000,
introduced in '63, would set the mood for what was to follow in the small
car range. The 2000 ran from 1963 - 1977 with total numbers
manufactured: Saloon - 205,213; Estate - 14,609 (export: Saloon -
>14,000; Estate - >100). The 2.5PI ran from 1968 - 1975 with total
numbers manufactured: Saloon - 52,011; Estate - 7800 (>900 exported
Saloons). The 2500 from 1974 - 1977 with total numbers manufactured:
Saloon - 37,752; Estate - 2,904 (>5700 exported Saloons). Production
outside the UK was always based on CKD (Completely Knocked Down) kits
shipped from Coventry with interiors often manufactured locally. For
more information check out the
||The design for the Stag arose when Michelotti used
a Triumph 2000 to make a show special for the Turin market Show. The
design kept the Triumph 2000's suspension, floor pan, and drive train.
Market launch date in the UK was in April of 1970. US-market Mark I
Stags were introduced in September of 1971 with importation to the US
market ending after only 17 months in July of 1973. Production for other
markets continued until June of 1977. Total numbers manufactured:
25,877 (6780 export). For more information check out
||Managing Director (MD) John Black assigned his staff
the job of producing a small sports car that could be sold at a low price
in a short amount of time. The 20TS' (TR-1) basic components were
from the 2L Vanguard (the engine), the Flying Nine (the chassis), and the
Mayflower (the suspension and rear axle). After a shakedown by a
noted driver/columnist of the time, the car was given a serious mechanical
"face-lift" (and a new rear end styling) and the TR-2 was born.
Production ran from 1953 - 1955 with 8,636 cars being produced.
||Very similar in looks to the TR-2 (grill changes
being the biggest; from the TR-2's inset, to the TR-3's egg crate, to the
3A/3B's "wide mouth"), the TR-3, 3A, and the American 3B are usually
thought of as the traditional Triumph sports car. Mechanical changes
took place on a regular basis from the start of the TR-2 all the way
through to the end of the TR-3B. A big step in the mechanical
changes for the TR-3 was the addition of Girling front brakes, Triumph
being the first manufacturer to use them on a production car. The
TR-3B was not really a "B" at all. When the TR-4 was introduced to
America, the dealers were not sure they could sell this "modern" roadster.
Triumph still had TR-3A bodies and parts available, so, they gave in to
the American dealers. The first 530 Bs are almost identical to
the As but had the TR-4 gear box. The rest had both the gearbox and
the TR-4 engine as well. Production ran from 1955 - 1957 for the
TR-3 (13,377 cars produced), 1957 - 1962 for the TR-3A (58,309 cars
produced), and 1962 for the American TR-3B (3,334 cars produced).
These totals include CKD and, for the A/B, the Ilalia chassis production.
||The TR-4 was Triumph's first dip into the "modern"
sports car market. (Which is why the TR-3B came into being for the
US market). Gone were the cut out doors and side-screens; this car
had roll-up windows and the first "targa" top! The
TR-4 was produced from 1961 - 1965 with 40,253 cars produced. Externally, the TR-4A looks like a continuation
of the TR-4. The cars share a few pieces of sheet metal and have much the
same engine, but most everything else differs. Body changes were limited
to a new grille, decoration (such as the chrome strip down the side of the
car) and badging, along with new body-to-chassis mountings. The
TR-4A is on a much wider frame and a redesigned suspension. The front
suspension is adjustable for camber and the rear suspension went from live
axle to independent. Triumph dealers in the US convinced Triumph
that they could continue to sell non IRS cars at a cheaper price (they
weren't convinced that the American public wanted to pay the price for
Independent Rear Suspension), and Triumph responded with a solid axle
design that fit into the IRS frame. The TR-4A was produced from 1965 -
1967 with 28,465 cars produced.
||The TR-5 was produced during a short period of time:
only in the years 1967 - 1968 (Model year 1968) as a stop-gap measure
until the new TR-6 could be rolled out of the factory. It was
basically a TR-4A with a six-cylinder engine and uprated drive-train.
The TR250 was the USA market TR-5, but due to US emissions regulations
(and some say because American dealers thought the Petrol Injection system
just too unreliable and costly) tuned down from a 150 bhp (TR-5) PI to 104
bhp (TR250) twin carburetor version. Total numbers manufactured: TR-5 -
2974 cars; TR 250: 8484 cars.
||The TR6 (sometimes know as the last of the Great
British Roadsters) was introduced in January, 1969 in both the UK and the
States, using basically the same chassis and drive train components as
those used in the TR5/TR250. However, the body work, while retaining
some elements of the TR5/TR250 design (notably the doors, windscreen
frame, and the style of the side rear quarters), was externally restyled
by Karmann of Germany (Michelotti being busy at the time). The TR6
came to the end of its production in July 1976 (February, 1975 for UK
models) when BL decided that the TR-6 was not modern enough to stand next
to the TR-7. Total numbers manufactured: 8,370 (export: 86,249)
||It has been said of the TR-7 that "this was
the car that marked the end of Triumph," but Triumph called it "The
Shape of Things to Come!" Due to uncertainty with the new rollover
regulations, Triumph opted to NOT produce a convertible TR-7! The
first TR-7s off the line overheated, the lights didn't work half the time,
the noise level was high, and the wiring system was the pinnacle of Lucas
nightmares. These two things practically killed any reputation
Triumph had in America. (Avoid any of the ACG prefix cars.
These were made in the Speke plant. The plant was so bad, BL
outright closed it instead of trying to fix the personnel problems)
Eventually a convertible was produced, and the problems fixed, (making it
a neat little car) but not before the damage was done. The TR-7 was
produced from 1975 - 1981 with ? cars being produced. The TR-8
on the other hand has been said to be the car Triumph should have opted to
produce and the car that could have saved Triumph. They were
developed at the same time, but the 3.5 litre 8 cylinder engines had been
promised for Rover's 3500 sedan. This car could have taken the
market by storm in 1976. The UK never saw the TR-8, it was only
produced for the overseas market. The TR-8 was produced from 1978 -
1981 with 2,308 produced for the States and 189 for the rest of the world.
||The Spitfire was designed by Giovanni Michelotti
and based upon the Triumph Herald frame, drive train and suspension.
First introduced in October, 1962, as Triumph's entry into the small
British Sports Car market, competing favorably with the MG Midget and
other small inexpensive sports cars. The original design survived
through three series and was updated by Michelotti with the Mk-IV for the
1971 model year. The Spitfire's design remained basically the same but was
modernized in appearance and other minor mechanical modifications and
engine upgrades; basically a work in progress (much like the TR-3).
Unfortunately, emissions controls on later model engines (particularly US
models) offset most of the performance gains that came with the
improvements. The final version was the 1500. The Spitfire was
produced until 1980. The various versions totaled 314,332 cars.
||The GT-6, produced in the years 1966 - 1973, was
built on the same chassis as the successful Spitfire. The car got a
closed bodywork and the 6-cylinder engine that can also be found in the
Triumph Saloon cars. The GT-6 began when the Triumph planners, asked
Michellotti to design a fastback body for the Spitfire. His design added
too much weight to the car so the idea was shelved. The decision to
turn it into a six-cylinder car was the result of upgrading the Vitesse's
engine. Between the Mark I, Mark II (the US "Plus"), and the Mark
III, about 40,926 cars were produced.
||The Triumph Acclaim was a
collaboration between the ailing British Leyland and the Honda Motor
Corporation. The last car to bear the Triumph name, it is an obvious
testament to Leyland's mis-management. Production ran from 1981 -
The above information has been collected from various sources
Triumph Club-UK, , plus several Triumph books including The Illustrated
Triumph Buyers Guide and The Original Triumph TR.
Pictures borrowed with permission from VTR and Triumph Club -
Please let us
know if any
corrections need to be made.