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  • Citroën 2CV by Malcolm Bobbitt

    Different is Everything

    Anyone who has driven a Tin Snail will know this is a car unlike any other. Its corrugated appearance and propensity to lean alarmingly through bends is all part of its abandonment to conventionality. A curious creature that treats pavé and cobbles with contempt as its suspension soaks up rough surfaces, its propulsion is by a feebly powered air-cooled twin-cylinder engine that lays no claim to spirited performance.

    Early 2CVs are recognisable by their corrugated bonnets, as demonstrated by this 1954 example. (Author's collection, Citroën 2CV, Amberley Publishing)

    My acquaintance with the Citroën 2CV began in the mid-1950s when, as a nine- or ten year-old, I discovered Paris courtesy of the obligatory school visit. By then, Citroën’s minimalist miracle had been in production for not even a decade but already had become a familiar sight. Even though it was constructed at Citroën’s Slough factory it was seldom seen on this side of the English Channel. British motorists shunned it in favour of Morris Minors, Austin A30s and Standard 8s. Put off by its stark bodywork, headlights on stalks emerging from the corrugated bonnet, the pull-and-push gear lever and a hostile interior with deck chair-like seats simply missed the point when it came to social acceptance.

    The 2CV was therefore quite different to anything I’d seen in my native London, and that includes such eccentricities as Bond Minicars and Reliant Regal three-wheelers. I remember being fascinated at the way the nose-down and canvas-roofed Citroëns scuttled along, and how their loudly chattering motors echoed around the boulevards.

    Few Saharas survive, this example being sold at auction around 2015. (Author's collection, Citroën 2CV, Amberley Publishing)

    Memories of Tin Snails shuffling around Paris were reignited when visiting provincial France in later years. By then they’d vastly multiplied in numbers to become commonplace in villages and towns as well as loping along rural roads and emerging from fields. Van versions known as fourgonnettes carried baguettes, barrels of vin rouge as well as taking live animals to market.

    When it came to buying my first car my parents were aghast at learning of my desire to acquire one of those odd-looking French contraptions, which in their opinion had to be viewed with the greatest suspicion. Wouldn’t a proper car be more sensible?

    Enduring seven years of British cars and having flown the nest, a new right-hand drive Citroën Dyane 6 was purchased in March 1974. Costing a little over £800, this 2CV sibling in its posh clothing was the nearest one could get in Britain to a Deux Chevaux. Two weeks after taking delivery of the Tin Snail and comprehending its ethos, together we embarked upon an exploration of Northern France. A short time later the Gallic call was satisfied with a dash across the Channel and southwards past the Loire and Dordogne en route to the Camargue and Provence.

    Fourgonnettes were put to many uses, as illustrated by this 2CV pictured in Lisbon serving as a mobile sweet shop. (Author's collection, Citroën 2CV, Amberley Publishing)

    The yearning for a proper Deux Chevaux was fulfilled when I succumbed to an ancient and not entirely reliable left-hand drive model. Compared with the 602cc Dyane, the 1955 425cc 2CV needed a lot of persuading in order to maintain any sort of speed, at best nudging 40mph on the level. Even modest inclines were met with dramatic drops in speed, while steeper hills amassed a tailback of frustrated drivers. Patience is everything when driving an early 2CV: the windscreen wipers are driven by the speedometer cable, which means in wet weather they crawl across the glass at a pace that would leave a tortoise breathless. Instrumentation is confined to a tiny speedo and a volt meter, so in order to know how much petrol there is in the tank it’s necessary to pull up, alight from the car and check the dipstick in the fuel tank aft.

    Though my stable has housed an eclectic array of cars over the decades to include a 1947 Citroën Light Fifteen, the excesses of a 1951 Bentley and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, an early 1950s Fiat Topolino, not to mention a 1961 British-built Citroën DS, a CX and a Renault 4, it never felt right without there being a 2CV. I’ve covered vast swathes of Europe in Tin Snails, one of the most memorable expeditions being to the North Cape, Norway’s most northerly point. This was in the late 1970s when the majority of roads were unmade and ferries bridged fiords.

    One of the last examples to be built, this car - a Spécial as denoted by the plastic rather than chrome griller - is in regular use. (Author's collection, Citroën 2CV, Amberley Publishing)

    Citroën 2CV – Different is Everything – is my 32nd motoring book to have been published. My regard for the Tin Snail and the pleasurable and exciting travel various examples have afforded over the decades, and continue so to do, provided the inspiration to impart the history of this remarkable car. Originally designed to offer the most basic motoring to those people who would not have otherwise owned a motor vehicle, its character and personality never changed throughout 41 years of production. It spawned ever so slightly more classy versions such as the aforementioned Dyane, the Ami and the British designed and built Bijou, but under the skin the basic idea of the Deux Chevaux remained faithful to the concept that was born in the mid-1930s.

    Driving even a late model 2CV today is akin to being at the helm of a piece of moving history. Strangers to the car take time to understand the logic of the gear lever that sprouts from the dashboard, but the real mystery for them is the art of maintaining surprisingly high average speeds despite such minimal power. Best of all is watching them come to terms with the car’s exceptional suspension which allows it to list unbelievably when navigating twisting roads. It’s no wonder the Tin Snail induces smiles wherever it goes.

    Malcolm Bobbitt's book Citroën 2CV is available for purchase now.

  • Armstrong Siddeley Motor Cars by David Welch

    I have been interested in the history of Armstrong Siddeley cars for many years and I was delighted when Amberley invited me to write a book about the marque.  I see it as a pocket primer, there have been much longer and more detailed books in the past but what I have tried to include in my largely non-technical book is the sort of thing I might tell a friend about the marque over a drink in a bar.  I imagined my potential reader as someone who wants to have a potted history of the cars produced by Armstrong Siddeley, or perhaps someone who had a relative who worked for the company and wanted to find out a little more.

    My Hurricane on display at Bamburgh Castle. Although it is by no means pristine help from more mechanically adept friends in the club has helped to return the car to reliable running order. It completed 870 miles in eleven days without missing a beat – deep joy. (Author's collection)

    I am gratified that so many Armstrong Siddeley Owners Club members have purchased the book and with these friends in mind I have used many previously unseen photographs, including a selection from the company photographic archive that is now in the care of the Armstrong Siddeley Heritage Trust.

    That is what is in the book, but there is so much more that can never be adequately described in the written word.  I returned from an eleven day motoring holiday in my red 1950 Armstrong Siddeley Hurricane, after taking part in the Armstrong Siddeley centenary celebrations.  Getting to the start at Bamburgh in Northumberland from my home in north London was simple.  Turn left out of the road where the car is garaged and feed onto the A1, proceed on the A1 for 320 miles and then turn right to Bamburgh.  A wonderful day’s driving with the top down – if I could bottle the pleasure I would be a rich man.

    This magnificent 5 litre Siddeley Special Six is back on the road after 30 years of restoration, now just the interior needs to be completed. It was one of four of these rare models, all with different coachwork, on display at Coventry, alongside a vast collection of other cars from almost every year that the company made cars. (Author's collection)

    Highlights of the holiday included meeting descendants of the first owner of my car, meeting a wonderful group of club members from Australia and, at the static show in Coventry that marked the culmination of the event, seeing a Thrupp and Maberly bodied Siddeley Special Six back on the road after a restoration that has taken 30 years so far.  That car would certainly have been in the book if it had been finished in time for me to take some photographs.  There were many other memorable moments that will ‘flash upon that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude’.

    Car shows are a great place to meet friends and enthusiasts, but for me there is at least as much pleasure to be gained from the journey to and from events.  I am currently looking forwards to taking my car to the Isle of Wight in September for two more car shows and a few days of gentle touring around the island.

    One unexpected result of the book was an invitation to give a talk about Armstrong Siddeley cars to the Society of Automobile Historians of Britain.

    A 1934 Siddeley Special Six by Burlington. (Armstrong Siddeley Motor Cars, Amberley Publishing)

    Meanwhile I must get back to preparing the next issue of Siddeley Times, the journal of the Armstrong Siddeley Heritage Trust.  It is time consuming researching lesser known aspects of Armstrong Siddeley history, but endlessly fascinating to me and many other enthusiasts.

    When my father brought home a second hand A.S.Whitley to be the family’s everyday car in the late fifties I never imagined that the marque would turn into a lifelong hobby.  If you are contemplating entering the joyous world of classic car motoring then I would urge you to consider getting an Armstrong Siddeley, compared with many other classic cars they are marvellous value for money and the availability of spare parts from the club makes running such a car a surprisingly practical proposition.

    If you are already a member of the classic car fraternity then I wish you many happy miles of trouble free motoring in your chosen car – or cars if you have been deeply bitten by the bug.

    David Welch's book Armstrong Siddeley Motor Cars is available for purchase now.

  • Triumph 1300 to Dolomite Sprint by Kevin Warrington

    For as far back in history as I can discover, my family’s heritage has had some connection with transport; originally with horses and for the last one hundred years, what is now usually called “The Motor Trade”. Even though my own career choice took me into the high tech realms of computers, I’ve always had an interest in motor vehicles that seems to have stalled with the models from my youth and which are now cherished classic cars. Passing my driving test in 1974 at the first attempt and almost the earliest opportunity, my choice of transport was limited to the banger end of the market, but my attention was quickly drawn to some of my more affluent friends who were running models produced by Triumph. This was to be the beginnings of an enthusiasm that has now lasted for over forty years.

    The front quater view of the 1300 shows the family resemblance with the larger 2000. (Triumph 1300 to Dolomite Sprint, Amberley Publishing)

    With the aid of Hire Purchase, I stretched my apprentice’s wage to buy myself a slightly used Triumph 1300; somewhat more prestigious than the cars driven by my friends. Of course, I couldn’t afford it so the car stayed in my ownership for a very short period, but the seeds of enthusiasm for the products from Triumph were sown. Along the way, I have owned a couple of classic Triumphs from the 1970s and found myself editing club magazines which led to an approach from Amberley initially to create a book on the Triumph “big saloon” – the 2000 / 2500 (Triumph 2000 – Defining the Sporting Saloon). Clearly, Amberley were happy with the result as they were quickly back asking me for a further title. It would be a second Triumph model range and the one that had always fascinated me was the middle market 1300 which morphed into the Toledo and Dolomite, staying in production for far longer than the planners could ever have considered.

     

    With substantially more power, the Vitesse filled the market requirement for a quality two-door car, thus allowing the 1300 to focus on the four-door market. (Triumph 1300 to Dolomite Sprint, Amberley Publishing)

    Triumph as a brand and company itself is a fascinating story of sequentially grasping success from the jaws of failure and clever engineering innovation developed on a shoestring. The first iteration of the company went out of business in 1939, was rescued by the Standard Motor Co. in 1945, it nearly went bust again at the beginning of the 1960s and was rescued by Leyland Motors who were later encouraged into a mega merger with BMC to create British Leyland. And we all know how that ended.

    But the 1300 was a success story that deserves to be told. Taking a different approach to the mechanical layout for front wheel drive as defined by Alec Issigonis with his Mini and 1100 designs for Austin and Morris, Triumph employed the leading Italian stylist Giovanni Michelotti for the overall design of the car which resulted in an attractive package that sold at a premium in the market for medium sized family cars. A larger engined model was soon offered and then something most unusual happened. With the market heading towards front wheel drive, Triumph converted their car to rear wheel drive with the launch of the Toledo model.

    The convertible option was always popular. (Triumph 1300 to Dolomite Sprint, Amberley Publishing)

    In parallel, development work was taking place on a new range of engines to power Triumph models into the future. One of these was a modular four-cylinder engine that was, in essence, half of the engine that provided power for Triumph’s flagship model, the Stag. This engine was first used by Triumph in a revision of the 1300 / Toledo model range that was launched with a model name that was borrowed from Triumph’s heyday in the 1930s – Dolomite. In the background, the business was in turmoil following the British Leyland formation with Triumph managers being moved to the volume Austin – Morris division and senior staff from the former rival Rover Company taking control at Triumph. The designers knew that the new engine had the capability to develop more power and investigated ways in which to achieve this. Multiple inlet and exhaust valves had been used by other car makers to extract more power, but such installations were expensive to implement and in the case of the Triumph engine would have required extensive redesign. Instead, an ingenious solution was adopted by Triumph in the engine that would power the famed Dolomite “Sprint” model and an explanation of how this was achieved is contained in the book.

    With the model range having now long exceeded its original design life, some commentators thought the car was looking decidedly old fashioned but it continued to sell in volumes acceptable to the management. Despite a series of aborted attempts, there was no funding to provide a replacement model with the Dolomite range soldiering on to remain as one of the last Triumph designed models to be built.

    The first 2000 Dolomite Sprint cars were finished in Mimosa Yellow, a colour more usually associated with Triumph's sports car range. (Triumph 1300 to Dolomite Sprint, Amberley Publishing)

    Triumph as a brand name suggests sporting success and while one might normally consider the more overtly sporting models such as the TR or Spitfire to take the honours in this arena, the original 1300 had great success, although only for a short time, in the new sport of Rallycross but it was the Dolomite that was to gain sporting honours for Triumph both in rallying and saloon car racing.

    Triumph 1300 to Dolomite Sprint tells the whole story from a brief background on the origin of the business, the route from rescue in 1945 to the introduction of the 1300 model and the full story of the evolution into the final “Dolly Sprint” models. Lightly interwoven within the model evolution is the inevitable business politics that help to understand with hindsight the issues that confronted the British car industry during the 60s and 70s. We look at the abandoned plans to replace the model and conclude with a section on the success of the cars in motor sport. Each model type is illustrated with photographs of cars on display at various shows across the country and interspersed with reproductions of Triumph’s original press and marketing material, the motor sport section also includes a selection of images from the collection of former Triumph works driver, Brian Culcheth.

    Kevin Warrington's new book Triumph 1300 to Dolomite Sprint is available for purchase now.

  • Alvis Cars in Competition by Clive Taylor

    Harry Ratcliffe racing at Oulton Park in 1961. He raced the cars in the 1950s and early 1960s. Car details: 1926 TE 12/50; Registration No. RW 7329; Chassis No. 4321; Engine No. 9102; Car No. 9690; Body Maker - Carbodies. (c. Mike Webb Collection, Alvis Cars in Competition, Amberley Publishing)

    Celebrating the centenary of Alvis Ltd. Coventry

    T.G. John (Thomas George John) was born in Pembroke on the 18th November 1880 and the founder of the Alvis Car and Engineering Company Ltd. during 1919 in Coventry. Initially he bought the American company Holley Brothers in Coventry who specialised in the manufacture of carburettors.

    From the rudiments of manufacturing static engines, he became involved with Geoffrey de Freville and from this association he started to build a four-cylinder side valve engine, which was incorporated into the first Alvis Car known as the Alvis 10/30.

    From the outset, Alvis cars were known for high quality construction and engineering. All major components were either stamped or embossed with part numbers, an indication of attention to detail and thoroughness.

    Alvis used the popular means of competition to attract the public to their successes by entering races at the Brooklands Track in 1921 and also public long-distance trials such as the London to Holyhead Trial, winning a gold medal, and the London to Edinburgh Trial, winning a Silver Medal.

    Publicity was paramount to successful car sales and as the company grew soon a distribution network was required. The earliest and successful main distributor was the famous H. G. Henley company usually known to everyone as Henlys, based in central London with city branches elsewhere as well.

    Resting at home, ready for more action. Car details: 1931 Silver Eagle Tourer TC 16.95; Registration No. OF 9257; Engine No. 9145; Car No. 13746; Body Maker - Rod Jolley, Carbodies design.(Author's Collection, Alvis Cars in Competition, Amberley Publishing)

    Following the success of the side valve 10/30 model, larger capacity engines were built, known as the Alvis 11/40 and also 12/40, the last figures indicate the brake horse power. All these models had bespoke coachwork built by various body builders. In close succession, the universally popular model Alvis 12/50, with an overhead valve engine was born. In racing form at Brooklands, the 12/50 scored a resounding result in the 1923 200 Mile Race by Alvis works driver, Cyril Maurice Harvey winning the event. This type of engine had also been supercharged and used in competition by Harvey. Today the 12/50 model is universally recognised as one of the most popular and versatile models produced by Alvis and also the 12/60 with a larger engine capacity.

    The next significant model designed and built by Alvis was the Front Wheel Drive car. For the general public, sales were selective to new purchasers due to the power and maintenance required to keep the car in peak condition, especially as the four-cylinder model could also be supercharged.

    Alvis were also pursuing the development of the FWD with a straight eight-overhead camshaft engine with major success, but also at a crippling cost to the Alvis company.  Eventually Alvis officially withdrew from racing, but the success continued by the efforts of people like Bill and Ruth Urquhart-Dykes racing their own Alvis 12/50, not only at Brooklands but also in Belgium and France.

    Winning my first trophy - the Holland Trophy - in the Silver Eagle Racer at VSCC Pembrey, Wales, in 1995. Car details: 1930 Silver Eagle Racer, Chassis No. 7059; Engine No. 8799. (c. Terence Brettell, Alvis Cars in Competition, Amberley Publishing)

    The Alvis Firefly 4- cylinder 1496 c.c. and the Alvis Firebird 4-cylinder 1842 c.c. were produced in good quantities, and later their chassis and running gear provided the basis for many Alvis engined Specials.

    The next significant model to be built was the Alvis Silver Eagle, a straight six-cylinder overhead valve - engine 2.2 litres. This model had the potential at the time to continue the successes for Alvis in competition, but Alvis did not pursue it. Post-War this model has been used by private enthusiasts including being supercharged with significant success.

    Alvis continued with six-cylinder models with the Crested Eagle, Speed 20, 3 ½ litre, Speed 25 3.5 litre and finally the swan-song 4.3 model. All the six-cylinder models have been used in various long-distance road trials, road rallies, hill climbs and sprints both before and after the Second World War. Purchasers for these new models could select from various coachbuilder’s designs, including saloon, tourer, drophead, coupe and three-quarter coupe designs, plus the facility to make special one-off bodies with personal extras included to the customers desires.

    Alvis were sensitive to the market demands for a four-cylinder model, when the 12/70 design of 1842 c.c. became a reality in saloon and drophead options. This was the last new model to be produced before the Second World War.

    Post-War, Alvis models started with the remnants of the 12/70 engine and some components until the new design of the TA 14 commenced, with saloon bodywork by Mulliners and a drophead design by Tickford and sports TB 14 by AP Metalcraft. This model with several body options proved to be very popular and continued production into the fifties.

    Paul Holdsworth with Rod Jolley in the car at VSCC Oulton Park. Car details: Giron Alvie 1932/37. (Author's Collection, Alvis Cars in Competition, Amberley Publishing)

    The new 3 Litre model designated the TA21, used a straight six-cylinder overhead valve engine. The car had supreme comfort and a high cruising speed carrying four adults and also used in the TB 21 Sports Tourer. The later model TC21/100 benefited with the improved engine including twin carburettors.

    In the 1950’s a new body design by Hermann Graber designated TC108/G was made by Willowbrook, then Mulliner Park Ward retaining the three-litre engine. In 1960 another body design influenced by Hermann Graber in Switzerland produced by Mulliner Park Ward was used on the TD 21 Series I in coupe and drophead form. The front of the car and interior ventilation was revised on the Series II model incorporating the air vents around inset fog lamps.

    During 1964 the frontal area was changed with twin vertical lamps for a more modern look designated TE 21. In 1966 the last car the TF21, had a modified head with three carburettors with 150 BHP and dashboard instruments placed around the steering column in a binnacle setting.

    Alvis sold various running chassis to Hermann Graber, producing a unique body for each of his cars known as a Graber Alvis. Rover bought Alvis in 1965 and Alvis ceased building luxurious cars in 1967.  Eventually both companies were absorbed into the British Leyland Motor Corporation.

    My book contains a selection of stories provided by owners of various models using their cars in many competitive disciplines, without their contributions the content of this book would not have been possible.

    Clive Taylor's new book Alvis Cars in Competition is available for purchase now.

  • Docker's Daimlers by Richard Townsend

    Docker's Daimlers 1 The 2.5 litre V8 engine designed by Edward Turner with all its plumbing in place. (Nick James, Docker's Daimlers, Amberley Publishing)

    Following a destructive and expensive world war it took Britain the rest of the 1940s and the best part of the fifties to achieve a stable peacetime economy. Daimler’s experiences during this period were somewhat peculiar, though influenced by circumstances which were common to the rest of the motor industry.

    Taking the common background first, the UK economy was harnessed to a single overriding objective which was to restore Sterling to pre-eminence in company with the US Dollar. The UK Treasury embarked on a strategy of promoting exports while conversely suppressing domestic demand for goods, in order to bring in foreign earnings and stimulate international demand for Sterling. The chief tools of this strategy were material licences and purchase tax.

    The supply of vital raw materials to industry was subject to strict state control. For example, for a few years various bicycle components could only be produced with a painted rather than chromium plated finish. More generally steel could only be purchased under licences which required specific levels of export sales. Even for the larger motor manufacturers this presented a challenge because their pre-war experience of exporting was often limited to countries within the British Empire. Those countries were very often themselves recovering from their own wartime experiences and so the market everyone had to aim for was the USA, which was also probably the one market of any size for which the majority of British car output was especially unsuited.

    Docker's Daimlers 2 This DB18 caught mid-restoration shows off the independent front suspension. (Author's collection, Docker's Daimlers, Amberley Publishing)

    Daimler’s larger models had always sold well amongst international nobility but the occasional straight eight limousine was not going to balance the books, and even those exalted customers were having their ranks thinned by the effects of socialist revolution. By the mid-fifties even British Royalty were lured away by Rolls-Royce. Like most British cars, Daimler’s smaller models were too slow or too small to appeal to anything recognisable as an average American which left Daimler reliant on the home market.

    Meanwhile in Britain, domestic demand for electrical goods and cars was deliberately suppressed throughout the forties, fifties and into the sixties. In the case of cars successive UK governments not only artificially inflated prices by means of purchase tax they also imposed rules governing hire purchase finance which mandated minimum deposits and maximum repayment periods. To make a bad situation worse these measures were subject to regular amendment which caused dramatic and unpredictable lurches in demand both up and down.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Compared to the Majestic dashboard, the Major's instrument panel was enlarged to incorporate a tachometer and the instrument and switch surrounds were black rather than chromed. (Author's collection, Docker's Daimlers, Amberley Publishing)

    A further factor to contend with was the supply of bodies. Firms capable of producing pressed steel bodywork were being rapidly brought up by the major manufacturers as they made the transition from chassis based to monocoque bodies. Meanwhile, squeezed by a declining customer base priced out by purchase tax and the loss of cheap skilled labour in a period of full employment, the traditional coachbuilders were shutting down with their industry pretty well extinct by the end of 1959.

    The capital required to ride out these market conditions was such that only large manufacturers or medium sized firms which were part of a larger corporate group could hope to survive. Morgan managed it by staying small enough to live on a niche market they inherited from their deceased rivals. Jaguar almost managed it by trying to grow themselves into an engineering group by acquisition. Daimler was relatively sheltered within the BSA group. Like Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Armstrong Siddeley and Alvis they were tolerated as loss making but prestigious figureheads. Daimler were especially fortunate in that BSAs Chairman, Sir Bernard Docker, and his wife, Lady Norah, rather enjoyed having access to a supply of luxurious automobiles which were very often hand built to personal order.

    Docker's Daimlers 4 The length of the DE36 chassis gave coachbuilders, in this case Hooper, scope to create some of the most elegant and well proportioned bodywork ever made. (Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust, Docker's Daimlers, Amberley Publishing)

    The appearance of the Docker Daimler became a regular highlight of the Earls Court Motor Show through the early fifties. These show cars, created in the workshops of Daimler’s in-house coachbuilder Hooper, were lavish demonstrations of the coachbuilders and trimmers craft. They undeniably succeeded in bringing immense international publicity to what was a very minor manufacturer. However their close association with the Dockers, for whose personal use they were almost constantly available, meant that many viewed them as little more than the Chairman’s wife’s rather tacky freebie.

    Norah is largely forgotten now but was a household name right from the moment she married Bernard in 1949. He was rich but then so was Norah, having been twice widowed by millionaires, and she openly enjoyed her wealth at a time of socialist governments when the rich were trying to avoid attention. Whether what she lacked was airs or breeding was a matter of opinion and personal taste, either way for most of the fifties there was no avoiding the woman as she appeared in newspapers, magazines, newsreels and on TV. While the publicity was certainly considerable the BSA board became increasingly certain that it wasn’t the sort which could be translated into sales. In 1956 Bernard was ousted from the Chairmanship after a rather messy and very public boardroom revolt.

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The conquest Drophead Coupe shared a great deal of its panelwork with the salon. It was only produced with the Mark 1-style front end. (Author's collection, Docker's Daimlers, Amberley Publishing)

    BSA, and thus Daimler, was now headed by Jack Sangster who had joined the board in 1951 when his Triumph motorcycle firm was acquired to augment BSA’s own motorbike interests. Triumph designer Edward Turner was placed in charge of BSA’s motoring division and immediately began adapting his Triumph engine designs to produce a pair of V8 engines of 2.5 and 4.6 litres which were to power a new generation of Daimler cars. The smaller engine was placed in a fibreglass bodied sports car called the SP250 whilst the larger engine was fitted to modified versions of Daimler’s Majestic saloon to produce the Majestic Major saloon and long wheelbase limousine. A plan to use the small V8 in a modified Vauxhall Cresta to produce what would have been the Daimler Dynamic died in the process of BSA selling Daimler off to Jaguar.

    Although Jaguar’s chief purpose in buying Daimler was to acquire extra factory space, Jaguar still had a reputation for being a bit flashy. Beginning with the 2.5 V8, essentially a Mark 2 Jaguar fitted with the small Daimler V8, Jaguar used the Daimler brand to sell cars to customers they could not otherwise reach. As Jaguar built a reputation for design excellence so this badge engineering became less useful and the last Daimler model was sold in 2007.

    9781445663166

    Richard Townsend's new book Docker's Daimlers: Daimler and Lanchester Cars 1945 to 1960 is available for purchase now.

  • Triumph 2000: Defining the Sporting Saloon by Kevin Warrington

    Is a simple form of transport a reflection of one’s personality?

    For many people a motor car is not just a simple means of personal transport, it is a reflection of who they are and of their status in life. Today, the prestige market for “executive” saloon cars is dominated by three German manufacturers: BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz. But in the early 1960’s, certainly in the United Kingdom, the market was very different with local manufacturers having a near monopoly on supply and the market segmented very differently. Small family cars, a result of the helter skelter, stop go economy and fuel crisis brought on by the Anglo-French “Suez Adventure” were becoming popular. At the high end, well-appointed large motor cars with engines of around 3 litres and interiors finished more like country house drawing rooms than a car. In the middle sat a range of unadventurous and mundane models that, by repute, rusted before they left the production line and while they performed the task demanded of them, were neither adventurous or stylish.

    triumph-2000-1 Shown here is a Mark 2 model, a car that was to gain a slightly undesirable reputation as being the 'get away' car of choice for armed robbers. (Triumph 2000, Amberley Publishing)

    All this was to change in 1963 when the rival businesses of Standard -Triumph and The Rover Car Company each announced a new model that would create a paradigm shift in the motor trade by providing a new model that would offer the style and appointment of the existing three litre class, the performance of a sports car (certainly in the case of the Triumph), but be priced in the middle market area. That rival manufacturers were about to launch a new model that would turn upside down the established market segments and compete with each other was well known to each company for there had earlier been attempts to merge both businesses and historically, there were close family connections between the senior management of the two businesses.

    triumph-2000-2 Very early cars featured a two-tone dashboard covering that in certain colours was attrative, but could be quite garish with boled colours. (Steve Parkin, Triumph 2000, Amberley Publishing)

    “TRIUMPH 2000 – Defining the Sporting Saloon” tells the story of the Triumph model and how it established the market. The book starts with the origins of the Triumph company, one that like so many businesses that were to settle in Coventry had its foundations in sewing machines, bicycles and motor cycles before entering the world of motor cars. It tells of the perilous finances of the business leading to insolvency and eventual sale to the Standard Motor Company in 1945 where the Triumph name would be used to great success, initially on a range of highly successful sports cars and ultimately on the entire output. The chance meeting between senior executives of what was then called Standard – Triumph with Italian styling genius Giovanni Michelotti lead to a distinctive house style of cars that immediately suggested quality and sporting prowess. To the middle manager or professional looking for a suitable form of transport, the new Triumph or Rover was the solution. While the Rover 2000 expressed traditional “Britishness” and featured an innovative style of construction, the Triumph made great play of the company’s sporting success, which in the early 1960s was at its Zenith with multiple class wins both on the circuit at Le Mans and in rallying.

    triumph-2000-3 Inside the main assembly hall at Canley, saloons and estates are being assembled. (c. BMIHT, Triumph 2000, Amberley Publishing)

    Featuring many new and previously unpublished photographs, this book describes in detail the evolution of the car and Triumph’s efforts to substantially increase its performance through the addition of petrol injection. The first UK manufactured saloon car to feature such a system at a time where any form of fuel delivery other than by carburettors was restricted to the race track or exotic machinery with prices orders of magnitude more expensive than the Triumph. Such innovation was typical of Triumph; not always successfully.

    The book concludes by pondering whether had the Triumph brand survived the upheavals of the motor industry in the 1970s and the mergers with the volume car business of BMC not taken place. Would the aspiring successful business person of today now be considering the purchase of a Triumph rather than a BMW?

    About the Author:

    “TRIUMPH 2000 - Defining the Sporting Saloon” has been written by Kevin Warrington who has been Editor of the Triumph 2000 / 2500 / 2.5 Register club magazine “SIXappeal” for seven years and is actively involved in the management of the club. He is an enthusiastic writer and photographer, having started to take pictures when he was given his first Kodak 127 Brownie camera as a gift for his 7th birthday. “After 53 years, I think I am just about getting the hang of it”, he frequently says. Kevin’s family background has been in the motor and transport business for many generations, but prior to embarking on a writing and photographing career, he made his life in the computer industry where he did, as he describes if “just about everything”, starting as a designer, then a service engineer before moving into product management and eventually sales. A change of management and business strategy led to him leaving a very senior international management position in one of the largest software companies to pursue his own interests.

    9781445655635

    Kevin Warrington's new book Triumph 2000: Defining the Sporting Saloon is available for purchase now.

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