Triumph Sports Cars are pretty, cheap and fun slice of motoring history
Triumph sports cars have a heritage as old as British motor engineering. This great British brand began by manufacturing bicycles in the 1890s and then motorcycles in the early 1900s. By the 1920's the company had ventured into producing cars. Their first car was the Triumph 10/20. The Triumph was accompanied by the super 7 in 1927. By the 1930s, Triumph had made a name for itself by producing cars such as the Gloria and Dolomite which was successful due to Donald Healey who was director of engineering.
In 1934, Donald Healey won the rally of Monte Carlo in his class driving a Triumph Gloria.By the time World War 2 was over, Triumph was out of money, no factory and bankrupt. In 1945, John Black owner of Standard Motor company bought Triumph and immediately reinvented Triumph.
In 1946, they built the 1800 and 2000 roadster and they continued to build Triumph sports cars that were remarkable such as the TR2, TR3 and so forth. During the early 1950s it was decided to use the Triumph name for sporting cars and the Standard name for saloons and during 1953 the Triumph TR2 was initiated, the first of a series that would be produced until 1981. So without further ado, lets begin by looking at the earliest Triumph sports cars.
Triumph 1800 roadster
The Triumph Roadster was the first post war car from Britain's Triumph Motor Company and was produced from 1946 to 1948. With early post war steel shortages the body was built from aluminium using rubber press tools that had been used making parts for the largely wooden bodied Mosquito bomber that had been built by Standard during the war and the chassis was hand welded up from steel tube.
The engine was based on a 1.5 Litre, four cylinder Standard design which had been supplied to Jaguar. A four speed gearbox with synchromesh on the top three ratios was used.
The 1800 roadster was quite a heavy and slow car with a top speed of 75mphand 0-60 taking close to 35 seconds, it was to be replaced by the 2000 roadster. The only significant update in the Roadster's production came in September 1948 for the 1949 models, when the 2088 cc Vanguard engine and transmission were fitted.
A retrograde step was the fitting of a three speed gearbox even though it now had synchromesh on bottom gear. Apart from minor modifications to the mounting points, the chassis, suspension and steering were unaltered. Today, surviving examples are keenly sought and change hands for high prices.
The TR2 was one of the Triumph sports cars built between 1953 and 1955 by the Standard Motor Company in the United Kingdom, during which time 8,636 cars were produced. This was Triumph's first true sports car. Not only did it offer fine performance, good fuel economy, and modern styling, it cost little more than an MG and far less than a Jaguar. It was the lowest price British car able to exceed 100 mph (160 km/h).
The car used a twin SU carburetor version of the 1991 cc four-cylinder Standard Vanguard engine tuned to increase its output to 90 bhp (67 kW). The body was mounted on a substantial separate chassis with coil-sprung independent suspension at the front and a leaf spring live axle at the rear. Either wire or disc wheels could be supplied. The standard transmission was a four-speed manual unit but overdrive was available on top gear as an option. Lockheed drum brakes were fitted all round
Another yet successful sports car was the Triumph TR3A which was a minor update from the TR3. The updates included the new wide front grill, exterior door handles, lockable boot handle and came with a full tool kit as standard. The total production run of the TR3A was 58,236.
This makes it the third best selling Triumph sports cars after the TR6 and TR7.The Triumph TR3 was the first production car to include standard disc brakes, which were continued on the TR3A. The car was known for its superior braking ability, making it an autocross favorite.
The Triumph Spitfire was designed to compete in the small sports car market which had opened up with the introduction of the Austin-Healey Sprite and MG Midget. Triumph's idea was to use the mechanics from their small saloon, the Herald. The Herald featured a separate chassis as compared to the unitary one of the Austin. The vehicle was based on a design produced by Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti.
As was typical for the manufacture of cars in this era, the bodywork was fitted onto a separate structural chassis, but for the Spitfire, being designed as an open top or convertible sports car from the outset, the ladder chassis was reinforced for additional rigidity by the use of structural components within the bodywork.
The Spitfire was provided with a manual hood for weather protection, the design improving to a folding hood for later models. In addition factory manufactured hard-tops could also be purchased and fitted for use in winter months.
Five separate Spitfire models were sold during the production run Triumph Spitfire 4 (Mark 1), Triumph Spitfire 4 Mark 2, Triumph Spitfire Mark 3, Triumph Spitfire Mark IV and the Triumph Spitfire 1500.
Production began for the 1962 model with the Spitfire 4, commonly identified as the MkI. It sat on an 83-inch wheelbase and measured 145 inches long. It was powered by a 1147cc, four-cylinder engine. But sales were exceptional, with 45,763 built from 1962-65.
Engine capacity wasn't increased until the MkII models debuted with a 1296cc engine. A 1493cc engine was finally introduced for the Spitfire 1500 that ran through 1980. The Spitfire was an inexpensive small sports car and as such it was loved by many motoring enthusiasts.
The TR4A was an evolution of the TR4, updated with a new chassis. It was hoped the new, but more complex independent rear suspension would address the buying publics' desire for more comfortable riding sports cars.
The new suspension eventually proved itself with the buying public and in racing, with three TR4A IRS models posting a team win and finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in class at the Sebring 12-hour race of 1966.
Visually identical to the Michelotti styled TR4, the TR5 hid the main differences under the body, the most significant of which was the engine. The TR5 boasted a 2.5-litre straight-6 fuel-injected engine developing around 150 bhp (112 kW).
This engine was carried forward to the TR6. Standard equipment included front disc brakes, independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering and a four speed gearbox. The available optional extras included overdrive, wire wheels and a hard top with detachable roof panel – known as the Surrey Top.
The TR5 was produced in small numbers when compared with the later TR6, with just 2,947 units produced – the first car being assembled on 29 August 1967 and the last on 19 September 1968.
Out of all the Triumph sports cars, i believe the TR6 was the most popular British sports car in the late '60s and early '70s. It had some luxurious interior and the handling was superb at a very reasonable price about $3400.
It was the best-seller of the TR range. By the end of July 1976, 94,619 TR6s had been produced. All TR6 sports cars featured inline six-cylinder engines. The TR6 featured a four-speed manual transmission. An optional overdrive unit was a desirable feature because it gave drivers close gearing for aggressive driving with overdrive available on 2nd, 3rd and top gears on early models.
The TR6 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.2 seconds and has a top speed of 120 mph (190 km/h)
Triumph sports cars continued to be produced such as the TR7 and the TR8 but the company was to experience financial difficulties and it changed ownership to Leyland motors.
However, if you happen to be shopping for an antique sports car and bump into a triumph sports car, don't hesitate, buy it. These cars are absolutely magnificent!
Return from triumph sports cars to antique sports cars
Return from triumph sports cars to home page