"The Story of Triumph Sports Cars"
By Graham Robson. 189 pp. 91/2 in. x 74 in. (Motor Racing Publications Ltd., 56, Fitzjames Avenue, Croydon, Surrey, CRO 5DD £3.60).
This is the long-awaited history of Triumph cars, to meet last year’s 21st birthday of the TR sports Triumphs, the 70th anniversary of the Standard Motor Co. which rescued Triumph from the financial doldrums and the 50th anniversary of the Triumph Company itself. Although Robson confines himself to the more sporting Triumph cars and especially the out-and-out sports models, there is plenty of background material about the origins of the Triumph car and the Stag is given its place along with the sports, rally and racing Triumphs.
As C.R. of Motor Sport has all but damned the future of the TR6, it is good to be able, with the aid of this book, to look back on the better days of Triumph history! Robson tells the story in a most readable style, with an excellent balance between company intrigue, technicalities, and development history, with much inside information included. The experimental and prototype Triumphs, too, are given their place. In consequence, this is one of the better, if rather brief, one-make history books. There are plenty of interesting if mediocre pictures, appendices dealing with the other makes which were based largely on Triumph components, Triumph production figures down the years from 1946 onwards, and specifications of all the sporting and sports Triumphs from 1923 to 1973.
The book has a touch of topical journalism about it, in as much as it concludes with an interview between Lord Stokes and Robson, about how His Lordship sees the future of sports cars within the British Leyland complex. There are nostalgic accounts of the make’s competition successes, especially of Ken Richardson’s twin-cam Le Mans cars, raced in the days when you could closely associate a sports-racing car with the one you might be thinking of buying. I recommend this book, especially to those who have come under the spell of the ‘FR, who are in the Motor Industry and could profit by studying the methods, antics and mistakes of others, and to those who appreciate motoring history, properly presented.
Criticisms can be confined to the number of printing mistakes, especially in the first chapter. The engines supplied for early Triumph motorcycles surely came from Fafnir not Fafrin, the Chairman of Dunlop’s was not Harvey du Gros, but du-Cros, and pioneer Triumph motorcycles surely didn’t possess two back wheels, unless they were Minerva-powered tricycles ? There is also some confused wording about the lubrication system of the first Triumph car, suggesting that it had splash-feed to all the crankshaft bearings, whereas it presumably had pressure feed to the mains and splash for the big-ends ?
Some further mildly confusing reference occurs about the oiling of the Super Seven engine, which is said to have had pressure feed to all bearings but splash to pistons and cylinder walls, which is so normal as not to need emphasis, while there is a suspicion that Robson thinks the Austin 7 engine was without a fan, which in fact it had, while without rushing to my Brooklands tome, I think Robson is being unduly kind to Victor Horsman in saying that he won races, in the plural, at up to 80 m.p.h. in his single-seater Triumph Super Seven, although he did win one, at 78.25 m.p.h. Otherwise excellent, and I am flattered to find that almost the whole of the chapter on the controversial s/c eight-cylinder Triumph Dolomite is a reprint of the account Donald I lealey wrote originally for Motor Sport.—W.B.