Road Impressions Of

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

The Triumph Vitesse Mk.II

When I last tried a Triumph Vitesse, in 1963, I described it even then as rather old fashioned but as an essentially honest motor-car with a very nice engine. In those days it had a 1½-litre six-cylinder power unit but the version which arrived without warning at the office last month, while having much in common with the original Vitesse, nowadays has a 2-litre engine and revised wishbone and transverse leaf spring i.r.s.

It is, in effect, a multi-cylinder Herald and follows the prevailing British trend of being a long-established model modernised by putting in a larger engine. Thus it is due for further revision but has all the appeal of a small car with plenty of power. Indeed, so over-powered or under-geared is this 1969 Vitesse Mk. II that it will pull away from 900 r.p.m. and can be driven almost everywhere in top and o/d top, if optimum acceleration is sacrificed for minimum gear shifting, control of the transmission being then mainly a matter of using the long r.h. stalk which operates o/d, this functioning in third and top gear and reducing r.p.m. by approx. 600 in the highest ratio.

The twin-carburetter 74.7 x 76 mm. (1,998 c.c.) engine gives maximum power, 105 b.h.p., at a modest 5,300 r.p.m., can be taken 200 r.p.m. beyond this, but will poodle along in 30-limits at 1,400 r.p.m. and at an easy 4,700 r.p.m., using o/d, at the legal British maximum speed. Where the Vitesse has dated is in respect of noisy running, pedals so offset that on initial acquaintance the brake was mistaken for the accelerator, a too-lively choppy ride, and not particularly comfortable separate non-reclining front seats.

Because the body is basically Herald the interior is rather cramped, with restricted elbow room for the driver, who sits close to the roof and is conscious of a shallow windscreen. The wipers fail to wipe the o/s of the glass, to such an extent that in muddy weather visibility is seriously impaired, the right-hand side of the road being cut off on right-hand bends, unless one ducks the head, while pedestrians tend to loom up unseen in town driving. Lord Stokes of Leyland should drive a Vitesse under these conditions and then ask himself whether he is making an adequate contribution to road safety . . .

Visibility apart, the Vitesse has a very reasonable driving position, the leather-gaitered small steering wheel low set, the oddly-protruding front wings providing a good guide-line, and controls, minor and major, being well positioned. The decor is polished walnut-veneered facia and door cappings and black PVC leathercloth upholstery and trim. The Jaeger instruments comprise well-calibrated speedometer and tachometer, a fuel gauge and a vague thermometer, but no oil gauge. Stalks, apart from that for o/d, control lamps and turn indicators, the latter rather short. The l.h. one, for lighting, after a facia switch has put on the lamps, sets them to side lamps, headlamps full-beam or headlamps dipped, another item which has not changed since the Herald was an exciting new car. About time it did, for apart from the danger of going on to side lamps when hurriedly trying to undip the headlamps, the sequence is unnatural, as I have emphasised before. There is a manual choke which gets the engine going with reasonable promptitude, a notchy heater-knob that needs the palm of the hand to push it in, a heat-direction knob and a single-speed fan. Convenient to the right hand, on the facia, is a big knob for single speed wipers and washers.

If the somewhat notchy gearbox with its nicely placed floor lever is stirred, very good acceleration is obtainable and top speed of this “six-cylinder Herald” exceeds 100 m.p.h. by quite a few miles per hour. The revised rear suspension has improved handling, with initial understeer changing to oversteer, neither pronounced, but with a sense of insufficient front-wheel adhesion on slippery roads, in spite of Goodyear G800 tyres. The wheels have a stylish trim. The rack-and-pinion steering works quite well, and although it asks 4 3/8-turns, lock to lock, what a lock it has! At the expense of excessive tyre scrub the Vitesse can turn inside a taxi, which is useful for U-turns on roads of average width and is splendid for parking. The Herald’s collapsible telescopic steering column has been inherited, as has the fuel reserve control on the fuel tank which lives on the n/s of the boot and holds 8¾ gallons. The reserve lever is stiff to operate and gives a range of a mere eight miles—do the Triumph design-team really believe that, even in England, you find petrol stations spaced as frequently as this? As one has to vacate the car to use this reserve supply it borders on the ridiculous, especially as the electric fuel gauge is fairly accurate, pessimistic, and has a generous red segment. On the subject of petrol consumption, the Vitesse, for all its liveliness and vitesse, is most commendably economical. Very liberal employment of o/d gave me 29.2 m.p.g. of 4-star fuel (cr. 9¼-to-1), a tribute to the 3.12-to-1 o/d and the two Stromberg 150s. If the fuel gauge is watched, however, replenishment stops would be made roughly every 200 miles. As for oil, this averaged approx. 400 m.p.p. The whole bonnet opens forward, as on a Herald, to give first-class accessibility, at the expense of dirtying one’s hands on the side catches. The washers’ bottle can be quickly removed for refilling and the dip-stick accessible. The boot lid is self-supporting, but the boot capacity is not very large. Access to the back seat is by tipping up the front seats, which then stay up. The “keeps” for the wide doors are ineffectual, the window-winders are placed low down, and flap-type door pockets are provided. The disc/drum brakes were adequate but on the test car an unpleasant noise, as of a loose shoe-mounting or a proud rivet, intruded when stopping, and the feel is somewhat spongy. The Vitesse has coat-hooks, rubber-tipped bumpers, reversing lamps, pile carpets, vanity mirror, roof and facia lamps, and four Lucas headlamps giving a good beam and a wide cut-off. A lockable cubby, scuttle map case and a shallow well on the transmission tunnel provide additional stowage space.

The test car had Stanpart safety-belts, a Radiomobile radio, and was on Bluecol anti-freeze. The heater will blow cool air into the two-door body, which has openable ¼-lights with “fireproof catches”, but fixed side windows, but the handbook speaks of the need to open a window if the heater fan is in use, an admission that the body isn’t vented.

I quite liked this compact 2-litre, but this did not overcome the impression that it has been on the market for a long time and must be regarded as an interim model while the Triumph engineers get out something fresh for British Leyland to sell. Meanwhile, those who like comparatively big engines in small cars can buy the Triumph Vitesse Mk. II for £951 as a saloon, for £999 as a convertible.—W. B.

You may also like

Related products