The first British hydraulics

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Sir,

I read with great interest the letter of Mr. Grigg, of Hornchurch, under the heading “Inconsistent History” in the March issue of your magazine. As mentioned elsewhere in that issue I am an avid Triumphophile and as such have in the past been puzzled by the Horstman/Triumph braking-system mystery. Perhaps, as a result of my researches, a little more light can be thrown on the subject. The Automotive Products advertisement referred to, shows the “Light 15” of Mike Cooke which was, until a couple of years ago, the earliest Triumph known in this hemisphere. Subsequently, a very original 10/20 model of late 1924 was discovered in Northern Ireland and made its way across to these shores for National Triumph Day, 1970, It was then that I had the chance of examining the car and found that it had hydraulic brakes of the internal-expanding type. Now the interesting part of this investigation is that the original 10/20s which appeared in March 1924 (the first car ever produced by Triumphs) were fitted with mechanical brakes. One of this model is extant in Lismore, NSW. The Irish 10/20 is therefore the earliest Triumph fitted with hydraulics and pre-dates any Horstman that I have seen using a hydraulic system.

Three patterns of hydraulics were used by Triumphs before 1930, these being:

1. Internal expanding on the 10/20, 1924-1926.

2. External contracting (single-band), on the 13/30, 1926-1927.

3. External contracting (twin-shoe), Light 15, 1926-1930.

On the introduction of the Super 7 in 1927 the company had reverted to the internal-expanding type and stayed with them up till the last real Triumph, of 1940. In 1936, a tandem master cylinder system was available as an optional extra and in 1939 the tandem system became a standard pattern on the Dolomite. These must surely be yet more “firsts for Triumph”?

I must admit that I have seen very few Horstmans (two to be precise); one had hydraulics and I strongly suspect that it was the same car as that referred to by Mr. Grigg. I understood that it was a 1925 model. The other Horstman had non-hydraulics and was I believe a 1922 model. If the Horstman dates are correct this makes Triumph the first British car to be fitted with hydraulic brakes. If, however, the Horstman dates are not correct, then the whole question still remains open.

A.C. Cook, Hon.Sec., Pre-1940 Triumph OC. – Wollaston.