Memories of “The Vintage Triumph”

by Richard Langworth on 30 March 2015

Writ­ten for issue 150 of The Vin­tage Tri­umph mag­a­zine, 2015 

TVT12lodefHarry Barnes was to have been our first edi­tor, but quickly decided he couldn’t do it. I was elected, pro­duc­ing issues 1-18 from 1974 to 1977. Look­ing at those pro­duc­tions, I’m struck by how much has changed since half a life­time ago.

Annual dues were $10—equal to $48 today, but didn’t buy as much. Imag­ine a world with­out com­put­ers! You printed off sheets of clean, “camera-ready” type. We couldn’t afford type­set­ting; those who didn’t have elec­tric type­writ­ers put a brand new rib­bon in their Rem­ing­tons and banged hard on the keys.

“Half tones” (pho­tos) cost $5 apiece and were rationed. We sub­sti­tuted “line art”—100% black sketches (as with the Jabbeke TR2 100 mph record car on the cover of TVT 1), which cost noth­ing extra. Issues #1-11 were printed black on buff paper called “Wood­bine,” which I thought neat, though to my aging eyes today it seems barely leg­i­ble. Some­how, things came together. We picked up mem­bers and sprang for real type, half tones and, with TVT 12, a color cover—a Sil­ver­stone grey TR3A named for Alick Dick, last man­ag­ing direc­tor of Standard-Triumph.

His­tory was big. No longer, we declared, would Tri­umph nuts have to suf­fer single-model fix­a­tions. We loved ‘em all. We saw our mis­sion to edu­cate peo­ple on a proud his­tory stretch­ing back to 1923, pos­sessed of impres­sive com­pe­ti­tion cre­den­tials, stud­ded with bril­liant char­ac­ters from Don­ald Healey to Kas Kast­ner.

Richard and Barbara Langworth with their 1951 Renown, “Miss Ruffle” (name of the original and previous owner in Bristol, England), New Hampshire, 1978. The Langworths have owned ten Triumphs from a 1938 Dolomite to a 1977 TR4A.

Richard and Bar­bara Lang­worth with their 1951 Tri­umph Renown, “Miss Ruf­fle” (name of the orig­i­nal and pre­vi­ous owner in Eng­land), New Hamp­shire, 1978. The’ve owned ten Tri­umphs from a 1938 Dolomite to a 1967 TR4A.

In TVT 8 we splashed out and pro­duced 20 pages ded­i­cated to the clas­sic Tri­umph Glo­ria (1934-38), with able writ­ers like Gra­ham Rob­son, Glyn Lancaster-Jones, Den­nis May and Chris Hast­ings. The next issue we shot three decades for­ward to “the swing-axle crowd”: Spit­fire, Vitesse, GT6, Her­ald, even the Bond Equipe.

Then it was on to the razor-edge Town & Coun­try, Renown and Mayflower…and the post­war Road­ster, whose dickie-seat pas­sen­gers, designer Wal­ter Bel­grove said, reminded him of “two pri­vates perched over an Alder­shot latrine.” (Every­body has their opin­ion.) We cam­paigned in sup­port of the “fly­ing d

oorstops,” the TR7 and TR8, urged British Ley­land to send Amer­ica the Dolomite Sprint sports sedan—and mourned when the mar­que died.

I can’t tell you how much fun it was because I haven’t the space. We looked back on the noble TRS per­for­mance at Le Mans ’61 (TVT 7); Bob Tullius’s Group 44 (TVT 11) , the goofy “Sec­tioned Mayflower” (TVT 10); the TR-powered Mor­gans (TVT 18); the weird TR-X that almost pre­cluded the TR2 (TVT 16). We cov­ered the great 1977 national meet at Bridge­hamp­ton (“Austie Clark’s Place”), where a TR5’s bon­net went air­borne down the fin­ish­ing straight, scat­ter­ing the fright­ened crowd (we laughed, but only later). By 1978 we had expanded into tech­ni­cal top­ics, parts book reprints, and pro­mot­ing Cox & Buckles’s new USA spares empo­rium, long since become the Road­ster Fac­tory.

By TVT 19, when I handed over to Den­nis Phleeger, the Vin­tage Tri­umph Reg­is­ter had been well and truly launched. I rejoiced when my brother Mike Cook became edi­tor, because I knew meant a qual­ity mag­a­zine full of “half tones” with “colour” on every page. Thanks to so many devoted peo­ple who fol­lowed since those early days, VTR remains as active as ever, still ded­i­cated (as we pro­claimed with TVT 1) to “the Smartest Cars in the Land.”

————–

Richard Lang­worth cofounded the Vin­tage Tri­umph Reg­is­ter in 1974 “in a Detroit bar with four other auto­holics,” and has since pub­lished over fifty books on auto­mo­biles and Win­ston Churchill. Today he writes for Col­lectible Auto­mo­bile and serves Hills­dale Col­lege as senior fel­low for the Churchill Project.

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