Driving the new Triumph 2000

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The Triumph 2000 was introduced to us during a well-staged Press day, during which I was able to travel in one of these handsome Michelotti-styled saloons from London to Faversham; taking it flat-out along M 2 and round Brands Hatch.

The new car was developed very quickly, in 2/2 1/2 years, by building a considerable number of prototypes, so that each department could carry out development simultaneously, a method brought from Leyland by Stanley Markland, and which offsets by time saving the cost of having to scrap a larger number of components as development proceeds. In contrast, the Rover 2000 took some 5 1/2 years to get into production.

The new Triumph is aimed mainly at the middle-class professional market, and there are facilities to produce 30,000 a year. Priced at just over £1,000, it is a 4/5-seater saloon using well-tried components of existing models, the engine being a 6-cylinder version of the Vanguard, the gearbox TR4. the MacPherson strut-type front coil-spring suspension and coil-spring trailing-link i.r.s. designed for the car.

The car I tried was the eighth pre-production prototype. The interior decor is a rather horrid clash of polished walnut facia and sills and plastic padding, and the two main dials are very deeply recessed and vaguely calibrated. This impression of fussiness is increased because the dash is not symmetrical at each end and the dials and switches, etc., occupy several depths. The indicator warning lights flank the blue full-beams light above the speedometer and dual-purpose dial, and the other warning-lamps cluster covers fuel, oil, choke-in-use and ignition. A l.h. stalk works the indicators and gives daylight lamps-flashing when its tip is depressed; overdrive, operating in 3rd and top gears, is selected by a r.h. stalk. Some drivers find this confusing and would prefer them transposed.

There is ample interior stowage in a deep, lockable, drop-lid cubby which has a rather unnecessary two-position lid-opening, and a pull-up interior vanity mirror—Triumph stytists obviously being conscious that the little-woman is a strong influence in the choice of a family car! If radio is eschewed there is another big, lockable, stowage-box in the centre of the console, and a Herald-like tray surrounds the floor gear-lever. The separate front seats have too little cushion support but the squab-angle is adjustable. There is room for three on the back seat if the centre arm-rest is folded, and foot-room under the front seats, but the Triumph 2000 is a compact rather than spacious car. Tho luggage-boot is deep rather than long; the covered-over spare wheel sits vertically therein.

Push-buttons, in sets of two each side of the steering wheel, look after lamps (side and headlamp buttons inter-connected) and wipers and washers. There is a foot-dipper. Equipment includes roof-grips for the rear-seat passengers, arm-rests on the doors, child-proof locks on all doors, coat-hooks, lidded ash-trays and a horn actuated by depressing the boss or single-spoke of a rather high-set steering wheel.

The test car had an ill-contrived treadle accelerator which had a lot of free movement, so that smooth starts called for care. The gearbox became extremely hot and 2nd gear was almost impossible to engage until it cooled down, and the rubber-mounted rack-and-pinion steering had a great deal of sponge, was vague in action and heavy for parking. I gather that the low-gearing was resorted to in an endeavour to decrease heaviness at low speed while retaining a 31-ft. turning circle but it was generally disliked by those who tried it.

The engine is not quite so silky smooth as its six cylinders would suggest but gives speedometer readings of 50 m.p.h. in 2nd and 70 m.p.h. in 3rd gear. The reading can be put to over 90 in o/d. top along a motorway, falling back to 85 up slight gradients, but Triumph claim a M.I.R.A. lap-speed of 95-97 m.p.h. Borg-Warner automatic transmission is available but the first cars so fitted changed up far too early, even under kick-down, and a higher axle ratio; in the region of 3.7 or 3.8 to 1, will be used for production cars.

The gear-change was rather notchy on the test car but the brakes, disc on the front wheels, are excellent. After we had driven the car a Press Conference was held at the Mayfair Hotel, attended by Sir William Black, Chairman of the Leyland Motor Corporation, who announced the discontinuation of the famous name of Standard, in case foreign subjects thought he manufactured standardised vehicles, Mr. S. Markland, O.B.E., who was responsible for developing the Triumph 2000, Mr. D. G. Stokes, who has to sell it, Mr. G. H. Turnbull and Mr. H. G. Webster, who engineered it.

Many criticisms were made by the journalists who attended the conference, so that Sir William later remarked that next time he would hold it after dinner, no doubt hoping that the Puligny Montrachet 1959 and Gevrey Chambertin 1955 would produce a more mellow atmosphere. One criticism concerned difficulty in engaging 1st gear. This is due to the synchromesh cones fouling and is the penalty you pay for listening to popular clamour and putting this gear-changing aid on all the forward ratios; Issigonis eschews synehromesh on bottom cog in all 4-speed B.M.C. cars for this reason.

A good aspect of the Triumph 2000 is its i.r.s., which costs the customer only about £25 and undoubtedly improves the ride and the traction. It is interesting that SP tyres are an optional extra, the test car having Dunlop C41s, so presumably the suspension has not been “tuned” to any particular tyre construction. There are no greasing points and servicing is required only at 6,000-mile intervals. The gears are fairly quiet, there is some exhaust resonance at low speed, but there is no back axle to tramp or deflect the tail of this Triumph. It corners well at speed, understeer controllable by a dab of throttle, but roll is that expected of a family saloon. The bonnet panel has to be propped open. Carburation is by twin Strombergs, as the Triumph engineers believe in constant vacuum carburetters. The car will, I gather, probably be entered for rallies, but not in its first season.

I will leave. further comment until a production 2000 is submitted for full road-test.—W. B.