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TRIUMPH

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Triumph Logo (1978 version)

The Triumph Motor Company was a British car and motor manufacturing company. The Triumph marque (trade-name) is owned currently by BMW. The marque had its origins in 1885 when Siegfried Bettmann (1863–1951) ofNuremberg initiated S. Bettmann & Co and started importing bicycles from Europe and selling them with his own trade-name in London. The trade-name became "Triumph" the year next, and in 1887 Bettmann was joined by a partner, Moritz (Maurice) Schulte, also from Germany. Beginning in 1889 the businessmen started producing their own bicycles in CoventryEngland.

History[edit source]

The Triumph Cycle Company[edit source]

The company was renamed the Triumph Cycle Co. Ltd. in 1897.[1] In 1902 it began producing Triumph motor cycles at their works in Coventry on Much Park Street. At first these used engines purchased from another company, but the business prospered and they soon started making their own engines. In 1907 they purchased the premises of a spinning mill on Priory Street to develop a new factory. Major orders for the 550 cc Model H were made by the British Army during World War 1 and by 1918 they were Britain's largest maker of motorcycles.

1931 Triumph Super 9, 4 Door Tourer

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 car and 1.4 litre engine type named the Triumph 10/20 which was actually designed for them by Lea-Francis to whom they paid a royalty for every car sold.[2] Production of this car and its immediate successors was moderate, but this changed with the introduction in 1927 of the Triumph Super 7 which sold in large numbers through 1934.

The Triumph Motor Company[edit source]

1934 Triumph Gloria Six
1936 Triumph Gloria Southern Cross 10.8 HP (four, 1,232 cc)
1937 Triumph Dolomite Roadster

In 1930 the company's name was changed to Triumph Motor Company.[1] Holbrook realized he could not compete with the larger car companies for the mass market, so he decided to produce expensive cars, and introduced the models Southern Cross and Gloria. At first these used engines made by Triumph but designed byCoventry Climax, but from 1937 they started to produce them to their own designs by Donald Healey who had become the company’s Experimental Manager in 1934.

The company encountered financial problems however and in 1936 the Triumph bicycle and motorcycle businesses were sold, the latter to Jack Sangster of Ariel to become Triumph Engineering Co Ltd.[1] Healey purchased an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300and developed a new car model with an Alfa inspired straight-8 engine type named the Triumph Dolomite'.[3] Three of these cars were made in 1934, one of which was used in competition and destroyed in an accident. The Dolomites manufactured from 1937 to 1940 were not related to these prototypes.

In July 1939, the Triumph Motor Company went into receivership and the factory, equipment and goodwill were offered for sale.[2] Thomas W. Ward Ltd. purchased the company and placed Healey in charge as general manager, but the effects ofWorld War II again stopped the production of cars and the Holbrook Lane works were completely destroyed by bombing in 1940.[4]

Standard Triumph[edit source]

1946 Triumph 1800 Roadster

In November 1944 what was left of the Triumph Motor Company and the Triumph trade-name were bought by the Standard Motor Company[5] and a subsidiary "Triumph Motor Company (1945) Limited" was formed with production transferred to Standard's factory at Canley, on the outskirts of Coventry. Triumph's new owners had been supplying engines to Jaguar and its predecessor company since 1938. After an argument between Standard-Triumph Managing Director, Sir John Black, and William Lyons, the creator and owner of Jaguar, Black's objective in acquiring the rights to the name and the remnants of the bankrupt Triumph business was to build a car to compete with the soon-to-be-launched post-war Jaguars.[6]

The pre-war Triumph models were not revived and in 1946 a new range of Triumphs was announced, starting with the Triumph Roadster. The Roadster had an aluminium body because steel was in short supply and surplus aluminium from aircraft production was plentiful. The same engine was used for the 1800 Town and Country saloon, later named the Triumph Renown, which was notable for the styling chosen by Standard-Triumph's managing director Sir John Black. A similar style was also used for the subsequent Triumph Mayflower light saloon. All three of these models prominently sported the "globe" badge that had been used on pre-war models. When Sir John was forced to retire from the company this range of cars was discontinued without being replaced directly, sheet aluminium having by now become a prohibitively expensive alternative to sheet steel for most auto-industry purposes.

1950 Triumph Mayflower
1955 Triumph TR2

In the early 1950s it was decided to use the Triumph name for sporting cars and the Standard name for saloons and in 1953 the Triumph TR2 was initiated, the first of a series that would be produced until 1981. Curiously, the TR2 had a Standard badge on its front and the Triumph globe on its hubcaps.

Standard had been making a range of small saloons named the Standard Eight and Ten and had been working on a replacement for these. The success of the TR range meant that Triumph was considered as a more marketable name than Standard and the new car was introduced in 1959 as the Triumph Herald. The last Standard car to be made in the UK was replaced in 1963 by the Triumph 2000 .

Leyland and beyond[edit source]

1960 Triumph Herald 948cc Coupe
1955-57 Triumph TR3
1970 Triumph Vitesse Mk.2 Convertible

Standard-Triumph was bought by Leyland Motors Ltd. in December 1960, withDonald Stokes becoming chairman of the Standard-Triumph division in 1963. Further mergers resulted in the formation of British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1968.

Triumph set up an assembly facility in SpekeLiverpool in 1959 gradually increasing the size of the most modern factory of the company to the point that it could fully produce 100,000 cars per year. However only a maximum of 30,000 cars was ever produced as the plant was never put to full production use, being used largely as an assembly plant.[7] During the 1960s and 1970s, Triumph sold a succession ofMichelotti-styled saloons and sports cars, including the advanced Dolomite Sprint, which, in 1973, already had a 16-valve four cylinder engine. It is alleged that many Triumphs of this era were unreliable, especially the 2.5 PI (petrol injection) with its fuel injection problems. In Australia, the summer heat caused petrol in the electric fuel pump to vapourise, resulting in frequent malfunctions of the 2.5 PI and TR6models. While the injection system had proved itself in international competition, it did lack altitude compensation for the adjustment of mixture at altitudes greater than 3000 feet (1000 meters) above sea level. The Lucas system proved unpopular: Lucas did not want to develop it further, and the Standard-Triumph dealers were unwilling to attend factory and field-based training courses dedicated to this propulsion method.

For most of its time under Leyland or BL ownership, the Triumph marque belonged in the Specialist Division of the company which went by the names of Rover Triumph and later Jaguar Rover Triumph other than a brief period during the mid-1970s when all BL's car marques or brands were grouped together under the name of Leyland Cars.

1973 Triumph Spitfire

The only all-new Triumph model initiated as Rover Triumph was the TR7, which had the misfortune to be in production successively at three factories that were closed:Speke, the poorly run Leyland-era Standard-Triumph works in Liverpool,[7] the original Standard works at CanleyCoventry and finally the Rover works in Solihull. Plans for an extended range based on the TR7, including a fastback variant codenamed "Lynx", were ended when the Speke factory closed. The four-cylinder TR7 and its short-lived eight-cylindered derivative the TR8 were terminated when the road car section of the Solihull plant was closed (the plant continues to build Land Rovers.)

The end of Triumph cars[edit source]

The last Triumph model was the Acclaim which was introduced in 1981 and was essentially a rebadged Honda Ballade built by licence from Japanese companyHonda at the former Morris Motors works in CowleyOxford. The Triumph name disappeared in 1984, when the Acclaim was replaced by the Rover 200, which was a rebadged version of Honda's next generation Civic/Ballade model. The BL car division was by then named Austin Rover Group which also ended the Morrismarque as well as Triumph.

Current ownership[edit source]

1974 Triumph GT6 Coupé
1976 Triumph TR6

The trademark is owned currently by BMW, which acquired Triumph when it bought the Rover Group in 1994. When it sold Rover, it kept the Triumph marque. ThePhoenix Consortium, which bought Rover, tried to buy the Triumph brand, but BMW refused, saying that if Phoenix insisted, it would break the deal. The Standard marque was transferred to British Motor Heritage Limited. The Standard marque is still retained by British Motor Heritage who also have the licence to use the Triumph marque in relation to the sale of spares and service of the existing 'park' of Triumph cars.

The Triumph name has been retained by BMW along with Riley, and Mini. In late 2007, the magazine Auto Express, after continued rumours that Triumph be revived with BMW ownership, featured a story showing an image of what a new version of the TR4 might look like. BMW has not commented officially on this.


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