Road Impressions of:—The Triumph 2.5 PI

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Soon after it was announced in 1963 the Triumph 2000 saloon made a great many friends, for it was a smooth-running, roomy six-cylinder family saloon. Since then it has shared with the Rover 2000 more than half the 2-litre saloon-car sales in the U.K. More than 95,000 had been produced within five years of its introduction.

The 2.5 PI is the latest manifestation of this popular Triumph, with a long-stroke (74.7 x 95mm.) version of the original push-rod o.h.v. engine, fed by Lucas 35 amp. Mk. II fuel injection. This has increased power output by 46½%, to 132 b.h.p. at 5,450 r.p.m. and torque by 30%, to 1,840 lb./in. at 2,000 r.p.m. The b.m.e.p. developed is 152 lb./sq. in. and the PI engine is governed to a peak of 5,800 r.p.m. by an ignition cut-out (no tachometer!). It is claimed that the new version has lost nothing of the 2000’s flexibility, but that it has 20% improved performance, with a maximum speed under favourable conditions of around 110 m.p.h. The external appearance varies only by badges front and rear proclaiming its more sophisticated fuel feed, a trim and a PI badge on the pillar between rear ¼-light and rear window, a rather unnecessary “Injection” over the dummy air-intake on the bonnet and simulated “expensive” wheels. A full-flow ventilation system was introduced for the 2000 over three years ago and the 2.5 has a 2,498 c.c. TR5-type engine with 9.5 to 1 c.r. and a Lucas-Type 15 alternator, and the brakes have been enhanced by a larger, remotely situated servo, 1/8 in. thicker discs at the from and a bigger master cylinder. Nine body colours and trims are available.

I tested a Triumph 2000 when it was a new car and was not enamoured, the dead feel of ride and steering spoiling it in any case, but I have friends who cannot understand this, such are the diverse views men express about motor cars. What follows are personal impressions of the new PI.

The interior of the car I find fussy and “cheap”. The facia on the left has a highly-polished strip of veneered wood, carrying a small Smith’s electric clock, the cubby-hole lock and a big ashtray with spring-up protective flap which came away in my hand when I tried to pull it out. This trim is of an odd, inconsistent curved formation, and clashes with the anti-dazzle finish of the remainder of the facia and screen sill. The instruments are deeply buried in a nacelle before the driver, which does not make them good for instantaneous readings, particularly as they catch reflections. They consist of a 140 m.p.h. speedometer with calibrations every 30 m.p.h. and trip and total odometers and a matching Fuel-Temp.-Amps. dial. The steering wheel is big, has a too-smooth leather rim, and its drilled spokes combine with the two control stalks to cast ten bright reflections in the driver’s side of the windscreen. The stalks consist of a thick, rather short one on the left, for turn-indicators, with a push at its extremity for headlamps flashing, and a very slender r.h. one for o/d, which operates in third and top gears; it failed to work after some 500 miles.

I cannot think that any serious driver in the S-T organisation, from Lord Stokes downwards, has motored far in a Triumph 2000 or 2.5 PI. If they had they would surely have thrown away that cheap cluster of indicator lamps set in a cast frame right between the two main dials, where they shine straight into the driver’s eyes, supplemented by a very bright blue full-beam indicator a little higher up. If the fuel level is low, the choke is being used for the initial few miles, and the headlamps are needed, the luckless driver of a Triumph is dazzled indeed, by this awful cluster of multi-coloured lamps. (Two others among them should not contribute to this illumination, for they are concerned with low oil pressure and alternator failure.) More warning lights, for turn-indicators and full-beam, top the dials’ nacelle.

The front seats are big and comfortable, with leather ventilated centres and easily adjusted, reclining squabs. There are swivelling cold air vents on the middle of the facia, but the front ¼-lights still open. The central hand-brake has a rather thick grip and is close to the driver’s seat cushion. The gear lever rises from the parcels’ tray, wobbling about in its leather skirt. Alas, it controls the gearbox with very notchy action.

The horn-push is in the wheel hub and below the dials’ nacelle are three knobs, controlling cold-start, roof lamp and panel lighting rheo-stat. Very prominent tumbler switches, two each side of the nacelle, look after lamps, two-speed wipers and washers. The two on the left are nicely arranged to put on side and headlamps together or separately, but all off in one movement (only necessary because there are two switches, however); here again, symmetry is lacking, because the r.h. pair of switches are on a different plant from the other two.

The bigger PI engine is an impressively smooth and powerful unit, very responsive to the squirt injection, so much so that opening it up with the long-travel accelerator, which does nothing for the initial movement, is apt to be a jerky process. The fuel injection makes a noise like a dentist’s drill, audible when the engine is idling, and coldstarts can take quite a time, if the instructions are followed. A stencil on the screen warned, in four languages, that the accelerator must not be depressed for a cold-start. This morning I gave six turns of the starter-key with full choke, without getting the engine to fire. I then gingerly gave a bit of throttle with my foot, and she went at once, although rich-mixture was required for some distance. This is the drill, according to the instruction, for a hot start. The instruction book does not refer to leaving the accelerator alone for cold-starts, so I suspect the new fuel system is not yet fully apprehended. I thought there was a smell of petrol inside the car, before it started.

I did not much enjoy driving this Triumph, because, apart from the aforesaid notchy gear-change, the steering is heavy, in spite of being geared fractionally over four turns, lock-to-lock, and what castor return there is acts sluggishly towards the straight-ahead position, which is rather disconcerting. The ride is not bad, but more lively over rough roads than that of a Rover 2000. The disc/drum brakes are powerful but somewhat insensitive and inclined to squeal. Visibility is generally good, but the wood-capped window and screen surrounds are quite thick. One lady driver said she preferred the conventional facia and bonnet of the Triumph to the high-set open shelf and drop-bonnet of a Rover.

There are under-facia shelves, the big lockable cubby hole and if a radio is not fitted, a central console locker. The boot is very commodious and its lid self-rising. The light bonnet lid is hinged at the front, so is self-supporting when open, but needs a finger to release the prop. The engine is an impressive piece of machinery. The Exide battery is accessible and the long dip-stick very easy to reach, on the n/s.

The fuel tank holds 14 gallons and is filled by a horizontal filler covered by a cheap bayonet cap under a flap on the n/s. On a full tank I drove 200 miles before the low-level light began to flash and the tank ran dry after 236 miles. As the fuel gauge is steady reading and shows below E before the fuel runs out, I would have thought the warning light could have been deleted. A check on consumption, using the specified 100-octane petrol, gave 22.1 m.p.g., so presumably the tank does not hold the specified 14 gallons. After 700 miles the oil level had fallen by 1½ pints. The eight-pint sump needs draining and refilling every 6,000 miles and there are no chassis lubrication points.

The test car was on Goodyear G800 tyres, 185 x 13 on 4.5 rims. It understeered on corners, but displayed good grip, but the steering is apt to be spongy and lacks precision, while some body-shake is evident at times. The Triumph 2.5 PI gives very impressive acceleration and speed, is quiet-running in top gear, and has the usual refinements, such as sill interior locks, roof-grabs for the passengers, cigarette lighter at the back of the parcels’-shelf wall, vanity mirror, good carpets, Stanpart safety belts, Triplex zone-toughened screen, coat-hooks, arm-rest to divide the wide back seat, rubber-tipped bumpers, side repeaters for the indicators, dual headlamps, good reversing lamps, etc. Setting the heater is fully described in the instruction book, but on a cold run to Silverstone I never got it as warm as I wanted, and one’s feet never got really warm. I prefer the Rover 2000TC, however, which, even if its steering is not its best feature, is nicer in that department and has a better gear-change once one has engaged bottom gear by strong-arm action, while on twin S.U. carburetters it seldom gives less than 25 m.p.g., usually a good deal more. It is a bit more spacious, but has a smaller boot, and is really a four-seater instead of a family five-seater. It is about as quick as the Triumph in all four gears, but the latter leaves it on acceleration (doing 0-60 m.p.h. in 10.3 sec.). If the Laycock o/d is fitted, giving a 3.92 third gear and a 2.83-to-1 top, the Triumph PI will go to over 100 m.p.h. in o/d third and cruise at the ton at just above 4,000 r.p.m. in o/d top, which is impressive. It sells for £1,547 in this form, inclusive of purchase-tax.—W. B.