THE 14/60 TRIUMPH DOLOMITE SALOON
Of recent years there has conic into being a new class of car of remarkable interest to the sportsman, namely, medium-sized chassis carrying normal, spacious coachwork, yet possessed of performance and having character that appeals particularly to those Who have to motor far and fast in closed-car comfort. To this category belongs the four-cylinder, 14/00 h.p. Triumph Dolomite. Externally it appears to be a very expensive, dignified car of generous dimensions. Internally it offers everything that any utility motorist could wish for in the way of luxury and convenience. Yet, as you take your place behind the wheel, it becomes clearly evident that here is a car of sporting tendencies, with itsbusineSslike seating position, remote gear-lever and generally modern air of efficiency. Setting the driving seat forward, but finding no necessity to alter the adjust
able steering column, we set off on a 450-mile trial of the Dolomite saloon that was to confirm the latter observation without in any way diminishing the original impressions. This Triumph bears no relation to the straight-eight, twin o.h. camshaft Dolomite model that Donald Healey introduced a few years ago and which recorded over 100 m.p.h. in a speed trial some time ago, running unblown. But the Triumph Company claims that they learnt valuable lessons in building the original Dolomite, which have been applied to good purpose in designing the more docile version under review. Outstanding amongst primary impressions of the car are the extreme smoothness of the rubber-mounted fourcylinder engine and the supple riding in town-driving. An excellent balance has been struck in respect of springing, steering and performance. The suspension is of a high standard as regards comfort, yet it is not unduly flexible and pitching and rolling are at a minimum. Going fast over bad surfaces there is some floating action, and there is a tendency towards ” dead ” riding not uncommon in modern cars with medium
softness of springing but, taken all round, the Dolomite has very praiseworthy suspension. It goes round fast bends extremely well and if sharper turns call for some wheel work and make the tyres protest, nevertheless the Triumph can be cornered usefully, given skill, and tail slides never develop to unpleasant proportions. Indeed, the tail follows the ‘front far better than on the majority of cars of this class with which we have wickedly taken deliberate liberties around open bends. The steering is fairly low-geared, asking 2i turns of the big wheel, lock to lock, and it is heavy at low speeds. But at cruising gaits it becomes quite light, and has a very rapid castor-action. Some return motion is evident over bad going, never unpleasant, and the direction ability is good without quite reaching true sportscar standards. The lock is moderate. Coming to general performance, second gear provides lively acceleration, a normal change to third being made at 30 m.p.h., when the pick-up continues very satisfactorily to about 40 m.p.h., whereupon top would normally be engaged. The engine develops 62 b.h.p. at 4,500 r.p.m., is tuned for Ethyl fuel and demands some attention from the hand ignition control, while it roars pleasantly in a ,111 >dried way when accelerating. Yet it is astonishingly smooth, runs down to ,a-une 4 m.p.h. in top gear and accelerates away in that gear from that pace to maxiIli um without trace of flat-spots or vibration. At beyond peak revs, the only indication of distress is a low mechanical clatter, probably valve-bounce, and one has to get right up to the Makers’ maximum to provoke it. This is a very good four-cylinder indeed. The oilpressure varies noticeably with revs. ; being normally at 40 lb. per sq. in. at cruising speeds, and water temperature was 75°, rising to DO° after fast spells on Brooklands and the ‘Folkestone Road. Cruising speed can be 70 m.p.h. or more on the speedometer, when the car rides beautifully, feels ” ” and regains speed very satisfactorily after a check. The seating position is excellent, with just occasional wish for narrower screen pillars, and some care needed at first to miss the accelerator when braking, though actually the pedal positions are beyond criticism as soon as one knows the car. The ” frontworks ” give a sense of true solidity, barring a little oscillation of lamps and mascot on bad surfaces, and the broad bonnet
suggests at least a 4-litre engine. The near-side wing is just invisible.
The remote gear-lever is well positioned and the left-hand drops straight to the tucked-away, horizontal brake-lever. The latter has a nice action but some effort is required to hold the car on :a gradient. The gear-change is synchro-mesh on second, third and top With conventional positions and ball-gate. Rapid changes up or down are possible, using only the synchro-mesh if the driver tolerates some shock-action and scrunch, but on the other hand this synchro-mesh in no way interferes with double-declutching. The lever was stiff to move into and out of first and second, probably because the car tested had only covered 2,000 miles. This is a ratchet-type lever for a reversestop, but so placed that we once inadvertently released it when selecting another ratio. The lever has a fume-excluding gaiter. Once mastered the gearbox
presents no tricks to a driver desirous of mastering it without recourse to the synchro-mesh for rapid changes. First gear emits a low whine, the other ratios are almost silent, both on drive and overrun, and it is a very taut transmission. The clutch action is light and ” spongy ” yet not in the sense that suggests slip. Indeed the drive is taken up firmly yet very smoothly. The Lockheed hydraulic brakes, used for so many years by this marque, are
truly excellent. They are really progressive in action, light to apply, completely even, amply powerful and make no noise when doing their job. So far we have given the impression of an elegant, luxurious car capable of getting easily through congested traffic and handling as a sportsman wishes his car to handle. On every open straight we easily went up to 80 m.p.h. on the clock, and for some miles held 90 m.p.h. And a friend put a number of miles into the hour in not very favourable conditions that we can scarcely believe, though neither time nor mileage was casually read. Certainly it far surpassed our previous ” best-hour” in sports-type cars. Consequently we looked forward to the
Brooklands tests. Unfortunately on the day of our Weybridge excursion a very strong wind was blowing, and speed was greatly curtailed in consequence. Even so, we covered the quarter-mile into the wind at 66 m.p.h. and on the opposite side of the track reached 758() m.p.h. on the clock. At 30 m.p.h. the speedometer was approximately 3 m.p.h. fast and approximately 8 m.p.h. fast at a reading of 60 m.p.h. The absolute maxima on the gears were : first 28, second 44 and third 65 m.p.h.
Trying for acceleration, we found it best to start in second, which is normal procedure on the road, though in actual fact bottom gear is not unduly low, so that about 20 m.p.h. can be comfortably reached before second is desirable.
Running against the wind, two up, and with a driver who makes no claim at being specially adept at getting a motor from the mark, to 50 m.p.h. occupied 181 secs. and to 60 m.p.h.
29.0 secs. The general pick-up of the Dolomite is shown in the accompanying graph.
The fuel consumption was disappointing. Admittedly we did not test with the aid of flow-meters, etc., but a fairly accurate check with any bias in favour of the car gives a consumption of approximately seventeen miles per gallon, whereas the makers claim twenty-six miles per gallon. We can only conclude that our heavy throttle-foot and the newness of the car were responsible. The fuel gauge seemed fairly accurate, but even so we ran out of fuel through our inability to believe the consumption. Coming to matters of detail, the instrument panel is very attractive, with white controls on an imitation wood panel, rather flexibly mounted. From left to right the mountings comprise :— pull-out ash-tray ; fuel gauge and water thermometer in a single dial ; roof and dashlight pull-out switches below ; clock ; light switch below ; J aeger speedometer ; starter button and ignition-lock below ;, ammeter and oil-gauge in single dial ; and spot-lamp pull-out switches. There is also a dynamo warning lamp on the dash. Below, the choke runs. beside the adjustable steering column and the screen wiper control is to the right of the column. The dash is lit effectively by twin, blue-hued lamps, and all instruments are visible, by night or day. In the centre of the large spring-spoke wheel is the direction indicator control (the signal arms -cancelling automatically), the ignition lever, dipper lever, and the dual horn button, with which intriguing tunes can be played. The ignition key also locks the doors. The lamps are entirely adequate and the close-grouped Spot-lights give a splendid field of illumination and should be most effective in
fog. The roof slides easily and the front armchair seats are very comfortable, while the rear seat has a substantial folding centre armrest. There are no door pockets but two large roof-nets are fitted, and there are set-back shelves behind the dash. There are two interior lamps, both extremely effective. There is a big luggage locker and the spare wheel on its lid is enclosed in a metal cover. The wings keep the Dolomite noticeably spick and span in dirty weather and the wide running boards materially assist one’s entry and exit. The rear-view interior mirror is fairly well positioned, and there are anti-dazzle shields for driver and passenger. We liked the driving position, but would have liked it even more had the seat cushion been a trifle higher or the wheel been smaller or set a little lower. Possibly experiment with the adjustments would have set matters right. It is not too easy to lean out when reversing, though the rear window is of generous proportions. The engine starts easily with scarcely any choke and pulls after a little while, with a few splutters from the carburetters to remind one not to rev. unduly .:until, things are
really warm. The bonnet fasteners are fairly easy to open and they close most effectively.
The appearance of the Triumph Dolomite is most striking and the radiator ” grille,” of really rigid build, looks very effective in conjunction with the closeset spot lamps and horns. With discs on the wheels and smooth contours, it should be a very easy car to keep smart. The handbuilt coachwork was commendably rattle-free.
Turning to mechanical matters, the four-cylinder engine has push-rod o.h. valves, coil ignition and twin carburetters. The crankshaft runs in three bearings, the camshaft is driven by roller-chain and there is four-point resilient mounting. The bore and stroke is 75 x100 m.m.
(1,767 c.c.) and thus this big ” four ” commands a tax of 110 10s. The compression ratio is 6.6. to 1. The four-speed and reverse unit gearbox has a top ratio of 4.75 to 1 and the clutch is of single dry-plate type, aircooled. The final drive is by open shaft to a helical bevel rear axle. Suspension is by half-elliptic springs damped by Luvax hydraulic shock-absorbers and the harmonic stabilising front bumper. The frame , is maderslung, cruciform braced and lubricated by a system of grouped nipples. The brakes are Lockheed hydraulic with twelve inch drums. and there is cable operation ot the rear shoes by hand-lever. Steering is of screw and nut type with a telescopic steering column, and the turning circle is 36 ft. The belt-driven dynamo is of ventilated, constant voltage type supplying two. batteries, of 12 volts, and a capacity of 63 a.h. The sump holds 13 pints of oil Continued on page 256, and the rear fuel tank has a capacity of 13 gallons, feed being by an S.U. electric
pinup. Cooling is by pump and fan, thermostatically controlled, the radiator holding 24 gallons and having a fillercap beneath the bonnet.
The wheels are of wire centre lock type, shod with Dunlop 5.50″ x17″ covers. Lucas electrical equipment, Champion plugs, S.U. carburetters and an A.C. aircleaner are standardised. Upholstery is of leather, over Dunlopillo. The jacking system is of Stevenson four-point. There is a wide choice of colour schemes at the standard price of 1338. In conclusion this four-cylinder Triumph Dolomite is
an excellent all-round car of outstanding appeal to the sportsman who wishes to. purchase dependable, comfortable transport as well as entertainment, and who. has an eye for modern, though dignified lines in keeping with efficient performance. The refinement and quality offered belie the moderate price.
Out Of The Past, March 1995
There is interest in the cars of noble families, especially if they took to motoring from early times. I am grateful to Dr Neil Thorp, a VSCC member who runs…
LETTER FROM EUROPE
[By means of which the Continental Correspondent, while he is motoring abroad, keeps in touch with the Editor.] Dear W. 13., Just recently we seem to have been in a…
South African Grand Prix, 1961 Trevor Taylor's Lotus 21 takes a diversion at East London. The rough ground throws up a stone which holes his radiator and he retires LAT…