Just Published! “Triumph Cars”: Tribute to a famous British marque

Just Published! “Triumph Cars”: Tribute to a famous British marque

A True Triumph

We are bowled over by the sheer vol­ume of col­or, beau­ty and depth of pho­tographs in the lat­est and great­est edi­tion of Tri­umph Cars: The Com­plete Sto­ry. Large­ly this was the effort of my co-author Gra­ham Rob­son, but I nev­er expect­ed such a high qual­i­ty treat­ment by the pub­lish­ers. A big, square for­mat, 10×10 inch­es, it’s chock-a-block with lav­ish illus­tra­tions from the first spindly Tri­umph 10/20 of 1923 to the last, badge-engi­neered Tri­umph Acclaim of 1984. There are even appen­dices on Tri­umph-derived cars like the Bond Equipe, Amphicar, Peer­less and Swal­low Doret­ti. There is a full account of Triumph’s remark­able rac­ing and ral­ly per­for­mances. It’s the most lux­u­ri­ous pro­duc­tion any­one could ask for. Order your copy here.

Tri­umph Cars is one of the best car books Gra­ham and I wrote. It’s as thor­ough as it is because when we began work, in the mid-1970s, we could still find and inter­view so many old Tri­umph hands. They began with Wal­ter Bel­grove, who skill­ful­ly designed many of the best pre-World War II mod­els, and the famous TR3. Not wide­ly known, Don­ald Healey was also asso­ci­at­ed with Tri­umph, and account­ed for one of its most leg­endary cars, the straight-eight Dolomite (see below). We spent many hours with Alick Dick, whose man­age­ment saved the com­pa­ny in the ear­ly Six­ties. We ben­e­fit­ted from inter­views with Har­ry Web­ster, and many oth­er Tri­umph engineers.

Triumph Cars: from the Publisher

MVC575, the TR2 which hit 124 mph at Jabbeke Bel­gium, now ful­ly restored. (Moss Motors)

“Relat­ing the sto­ry of Tri­umph is com­plex enough. To include all the ear­li­er events which per­suad­ed Siegfried Bettmann to begin car man­u­fac­ture in 1923 is even more so. The authors, how­ev­er, are experts in all things Tri­umph: the cars, and the polit­i­cal events sur­round­ing them. They have assem­bled and pre­sent­ed an enthralling sto­ry of the way the car-mak­ing busi­ness came to pros­per. Tri­umph was then afflict­ed by finan­cial prob­lems. In 1940 its fac­to­ry was bombed flat in the Coven­try Blitz. It was res­cued from obliv­ion by Stan­dard in 1944. There­after, Tri­umph again became a promi­nent mar­que, even­tu­al­ly dom­i­nat­ed Stan­dard, and (from the 1960s onwards) became an impor­tant cast mem­ber in the melo­dra­mat­ic events which involved British Ley­land.

“Tri­umph Cars: The Com­plete Sto­ry is not mere­ly a tur­bu­lent trawl through the his­tor­i­cal record. The authors were also suc­cess­ful in locat­ing the impor­tant char­ac­ters whose efforts made it pos­si­ble for Tri­umph to excite the world. Along the way, the career of cars as famous as the Glo­rias and Dolomites of the 1930s, the Her­alds, Spit­fires and TRs of the post­war years, and the head­line-grab­bing exploits in rac­ing and ral­ly­ing build up a sto­ry which no fic­tion­al writer could have created.”

“Graham Robson

…pos­sess­es a world­wide rep­u­ta­tion as a motor­ing his­to­ri­an, and has been close to the sport of ral­ly­ing for many years as a com­peti­tor, team man­ag­er, orga­niz­er, reporter, com­men­ta­tor and observ­er. In more than forty years he has nev­er lost touch with the sport. Not only has Gra­ham com­pet­ed in many British and Euro­pean events. He’s also report­ed on marathons in South Amer­i­ca, and act­ed as a trav­el­ing con­troller in the leg­endary Lon­don-Mex­i­co World Cup Ral­ly. As a rec­og­nized author­i­ty on many aspects of clas­sic cars and motor­ing of that peri­od, he is the most pro­lif­ic of all authors, with more than 130 pub­lished books to his cred­it. Over the years Gra­ham has owned, dri­ven, described and com­pet­ed in many of the cars fea­tured in the Ral­ly Giants Series, and his insight to their mer­its is unmatched. Gra­ham Rob­son lives and works in Dorset, England.

With us again, restored and beau­ti­ful: Don­ald Healey’s Tri­umph Dolomite straight-eight from 1934.

“Graham’s tena­cious efforts to see Tri­umph Cars back into print is the rea­son this hand­some new edi­tion exists. Almost sin­gle­hand­ed­ly, he round­ed up dozens of new col­or pho­tographs, updat­ed the text with new infor­ma­tion. I wrote the pre­war chap­ters of the book. But Gra­ham updat­ed the sto­ry of the fab­u­lous 1934 Dolomite Straight Eight, since dis­cov­ered and ful­ly restored: ‘The Big One that Got Away.’

“Richard Langworth

With Bar­bara and “Miss Ruf­fle,” our 1951 Tri­umph Renown, New Hamp­shire, 1979.

…has been an auto­mo­tive writer since 1969, when he sent a free­lance arti­cle to Auto­mo­bile Quar­ter­ly. He joined AQ as asso­ciate and lat­er senior edi­tor in 1970-75. He has since writ­ten or co-authored more than fifty books and 2000 arti­cles on auto­mo­tive his­to­ry. Richard and Bar­bara Lang­worth have owned ten Tri­umphs from a 1938 Dolomite to an assort­ment of Mayflow­ers, Renowns and TRs. In 1975, he and sev­er­al friends found­ed the Vin­tage Tri­umph Reg­is­ter, think­ing the time had come for a club devot­ed to every mod­el motor­car Tri­umph ever built.

“Langworth’s oth­er inter­est is Win­ston Churchill. In 1968 he found­ed what became The Inter­na­tion­al Churchill Soci­ety, serv­ing as pres­i­dent or chair­man for ten years and edi­tor of its jour­nal, Finest Hour, for 35 years. In 2014 he joined Hills­dale Col­lege as senior fel­low for The Churchill Project. The project spon­sors edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams and online cours­es, and is com­plet­ing Churchill’s offi­cial biog­ra­phy. Richard has writ­ten or edit­ed nine books on Churchill. In 2016 he meld­ed his two inter­ests in an arti­cle, “Blood Sweat and Gears,” on Churchill’s cars for The Auto­mo­bile. Richard and Bar­bara Lang­worth have host­ed eigh­teen auto­mo­tive or Churchill tours of Eng­land, Scot­land, France and Aus­tralia, includ­ing the 1978 Tri­umph tour of Britain.”

 This is a book…

Built in Ger­many, pow­ered by Tri­umph, and as quirky as they come: the Six­ties Amphicar.

…for nuts who like quirky Eng­lish cars. Hard to admit, but Fer­raris bore me. Just unaf­ford­able excel­lence. My fun derives from funky British­ers that ride hard and smell of oil. They just don’t make cars like that any­more. This abnor­mal­i­ty is not uncom­mon. My old friend Rich Tay­lor cap­tured it per­fect­ly in his 1978 book, Mod­ern Classics: 

To under­stand British cars, you have to real­ize that all the stereo­types fit. I know, for exam­ple, that rat­ed on an absolute scale, a Tri­umph or MG or Healey is not a great car, the way a Mer­cedes or Fer­rari or Maserati is a great car. But I don’t care. There is some­thing about the very British­ness of their going that makes the way oth­er peo­ple look at you, the way the rain beads on the hood, the ele­gant way you feel when you’re sit­ting in one, con­sid­er­ably more impor­tant than how fast it will go.

British cars are for the sort who get out and tin­ker on Sun­day morn­ings, not those with legions of mechan­ics. While you can have a short, pas­sion­ate affair with a Lan­cia, or a suc­cess­ful mar­riage with a Lam­borgh­i­ni, it’s hard actu­al­ly to love them. But a Tri­umph has the kind of looks, the teas­ing kind of humor, that keeps you on your toes; the won­der­ful unpre­dictabil­i­ty that is some­thing to anticipate.

See also: “Mem­o­ries of The Vin­tage Tri­umph.

2 thoughts on “Just Published! “Triumph Cars”: Tribute to a famous British marque

  1. I asked my co-author Gra­ham Rob­son, who writes: “No, there was nev­er any such thing as a ‘Tri­umph Duvall,’ not even a pri­vate-enter­prise one-off.” We think you may be think­ing of the 1963 Dové GTR4, which is in our book. It was designed by a Tri­umph deal­er, L.F. Dove & Com­pa­ny of Wim­ble­don, and con­struct­ed by coach­builder Thomas Har­ring­ton of Hove. A gran tur­is­mo con­ver­sion of the TR4 road­ster, it was sim­i­lar to but IMO not as slick look­ing as Harrington’s Le Mans GT con­ver­sion of the Sun­beam Alpine. At least 50 and prob­a­bly more were built.

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