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CATEGORIES (articles) > Donor vehicle information > Triumph > Triumph Motor Company history

Triumph Motor Company history


Triumph Logo (1978 version)
1934 Triumph Gloria Six
1937 Triumph Dolomite Roadster
1974 Triumph GT6 Coupé

The Triumph Motor Company had its origins in 1885 when Siegfried Bettmann (1863-1951) and Moritz (Maurice) Schulte founded Bettmann & Co and started selling Triumph bicycles, from premises in London and from 1889 started making his own machines in Coventry, England.

History

The Triumph Cycle Company

From bicycles, the Triumph Cycle Company as the company was named in 1897, branched out in 1902 into making Triumph motor cycles at their works in Much Park Street. At first these used bought-in engines but the business took off and they soon started making their own and in 1907 expanded into a new factory in Priory Street taking over the premises of a spinning mill. Major orders for the 550 cc Model H came from the British Army during World War 1 and by 1918 they were Britain's largest motor cycle maker.

In 1921, Bettmann was persuaded by his general manager Claude Holbrook (1886-1979), who had joined the company in 1919, to acquire the assets and Clay Lane premises of the Dawson Car Company and start producing a 1.4 litre model called the Triumph 10/20 which was actually designed for them by Lea-Francis to whom they paid a royalty for every car sold. Production of this car and its immediate successors was on a moderate scale but this changed with the introduction in 1927 of the Triumph Super 7 which sold in large numbers through to 1934.

The Triumph Motor Company

In 1930 the company changed its name to the Triumph Motor Company. It was clear to Holbrook that there was no future in pursuing the mass manufacturers and so decided to take the company upmarket with the Southern Cross and Gloria ranges. At first these used engines made by Triumph but designed by Coventry Climax but from 1937 they started to make them to their own designs by Donald Healey who had become the company’s Experimental Manager in 1934.

The company hit financial problems however and in 1936 the Triumph bicycle and motorcycle businesses were sold, the latter to to Jack Sangster of Ariel to become Triumph Motorcycles. Healey purchased an Alfa 2.3 and developed an ambitious new car with Alfa inspired Straight-8 engine called the Triumph Dolomite.

In July 1939, the Triumph Motor Company went into receivership and the factory, equipment and goodwill were offered for sale. T.W. Ward purchased the company and placed Healey in charge as general manager, but the effects of World War II again stopped the production of cars and the Priory Street works was completely destroyed by bombing in 1940.

Standard Triumph

After the war, what was left of the Triumph Motor Company and the Triumph brand name was bought by Standard Motor Company and production transferred to Standard's factory. The pre-war models were not revived and in 1946 a new range of Triumphs starting with the 1800 was announced. Because of steel shortages these were bodied in aluminium which was plentiful because of its use in aircraft production.

In the early 1950's it was decided to use the Triumph name on sporting cars and the Standard name on saloons and in 1953 the Triumph TR2 was launched, the first of a series that would run through to 1981. Standard had been making a range of small saloons called the Standard Eight and Ten and had been working on a replacement for these. When this was launched in 1959 as the Herald it carried the Triumph badge and slowly the Standard name was dropped in 1963.

Leyland

In December 1960 the company was bought by Leyland Motors Ltd with Donald Stokes becoming chairman of the Standard Triumph division in 1963. Further mergers led to the formation of British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Triumph sold a succession of Michelotti-styled saloons and sports cars, including the advanced Dolomite Sprint, which, in 1973, already had a 16-valve four cylinder engine. But many Triumphs of this era were unreliable, including the 2.5 PI with its fuel injection problems.

The last Triumph model was the Acclaim which was launched in 1981 in a joint venture with Japanese company Honda. The Triumph name disappeared in 1984, when the Acclaim was replaced by the Rover 200, which was a rebadged version of Honda's Civic/Ballade model.

The trademark is currently owned by BMW, acquired when it bought the Rover Group in 1994. When it sold Rover, it kept the Triumph marque. The Phoenix Consortium, which bought Rover, tried to buy the Triumph brand, but BMW refused, saying that if Phoenix insisted, it would break the deal.

Triumph car models

Pre-war

Model Name Engine Year
Triumph 10/20 1393 cc inline 4 (1923–1925)
Triumph 13/35 or 12.8 1872 cc inline 4 (1927–1927)
Triumph 15/50 or Fifteen 2169 cc inline 4 (1926–1930)
Triumph Super 7 832 cc inline 4 (1927-1932)
Triumph Super 8 832 cc inline 4 (1930)
Triumph 12-6 Scorpion 1203 cc inline 6 (1931-1933)
Triumph Super 9 1018 cc inline 4 (1932)
Triumph Ten 1122 cc inline 4 (1933-1934)
Triumph Southern Cross 1018/1122 cc inline 4 (1932-1934)
Triumph Gloria Four 1087/1232 cc inline 4 (1934-1937)
Triumph Gloria Six 1476/1991 cc inline 6 (1934–1937)
Triumph Gloria Southern Cross 1232/1991 cc inline 4/6 (1934-1937)
Triumph Gloria 14 1496/1767 cc inline 4 (1937-1938)
Triumph Dolomite 8 1990 cc inline 8 (1934-1935)
Triumph Dolomite Vitesse 14 1767/1991 cc inline 4/6 (1937-1938)
Triumph Dolomite 14/60 1767/1991 cc inline 4/6 (1937-1939)
Triumph Dolomite Roadster 1767/1991 cc inline 4/6 (1937-1939)
Triumph 12 1496 cc inline 4 (1939–1940)

Post war

Model Name Engine Year
Triumph 1800 Saloon 1776 cc inline 4 (1946–1949)
Triumph 1800 Tourer 1776 cc inline 4 (1946–1948)
Triumph 2000 Saloon 2088 cc inline 4 (1949–1951)
Triumph 2000 Tourer 2088 cc inline 4 (1948–1949)
Triumph Renown 208 cc inline 4 (1949–1952)
Triumph Mayflower 1247 cc inline 4 (1949–1953)
Triumph TR1 / 20TS 208 cc inline 4 (1950)
Triumph TR2 1991 cc inline 4 (1953–1955)
Triumph TR3 1991 cc inline 4 (1956–1958)
Triumph TR3A 1991 cc inline 4 (1958–1962)
Triumph TR3B 2138 cc inline 4 (1962)
Triumph Italia 1991 cc inline 4 (1959–1963)
Triumph TR4 2138 cc inline 4 (1961–1965)
Triumph TR4A 2138 cc inline 4 (1965–1967)
Triumph TR5 2498 cc inline 6 (1967–1969)
Triumph TR250 2498 cc inline 6 (1967–1969)
Triumph 2-litre GT (1967–1971)
Triumph Dove GTR4 2138 cc inline 4 1961-1964
Triumph TR6 2498 cc inline 6 (1969–1976)
Triumph TR7 1998 cc inline 4 (1974-1981)
Triumph TR8 3528 cc V8 (1979-1981)
Triumph Spitfire 4 1147 cc inline 4 (1962–1965)
Triumph Spitfire Mk.II 1147 cc inline 4 (1965–1967)
Triumph Spitfire Mk.III 1296 cc inline 4 (1967–1970)
Triumph Spitfire Mk.IV 1296 cc inline 4 (1970–1974)
Triumph Spitfire 1500 1493 cc inline 4 (1974–1980)
Triumph GT6 1998 cc inline 6 (1966–1973)
Triumph Herald 948 948 cc inline 4 (1959–1964)
Triumph Herald 1200 1147 cc inline 4 (1961–1970)
Triumph Herald 12/50 1147 cc inline 4 1963-1967
Triumph Herald 13/60 1296 cc inline 4 (1967–1971)
Triumph Vitesse 6 1596 cc inline 6 (1962–1966)
Triumph Sports 6 (US version of Vitesse 6) 1596 cc inline 6 (1962–1964)
Triumph Vitesse 2-litre, and Mk.2 1998 cc inline 6 (1966–1971)
Triumph 1300 1296 cc inline 4 (1965–1970)
Triumph 1500 1493 cc inline 4 (1970–1973)
Triumph Stag 2997 cc V8 (1971–1977)
Triumph Toledo 1296 cc inline 4 (1970–1978)
Triumph Dolomite 1850/HL 1850 cc inline 4 (1972–1981)
Triumph Dolomite Sprint 1998 cc inline 4 (1973–1981)
Triumph 2000 1998 cc inline 6 (1963–1975)
Triumph 2.5 PI 2498 cc inline 6 (1968–1977)
Triumph 2500TC/S 2498 cc inline 6 (1974–1977)
Triumph Acclaim 1335 cc inline 4 (1981–1984)

Triumph-based models

Vale Special (1932–1936) very low built two-seater based on Super 8 and Gloria
Swallow Doretti (1954–1955)
Amphicar
Bond Equipe GT (1964–1967)
Fairthorpe Cars
The Lotus Seven Series 2 had many Standard Triumph parts.




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