Recently we were able to inspect the finished Triumph “Special” built by J. Clayton, to which reference was made some time ago, and to take a brief run in the car. The finished product is a most creditable effort, with the finish and demeanour of a production job, and the car is additionally interesting as a “Special” using modern, as distinct from vintage, parts. The basis of Clayton’s car is a 1937 9-in. wheelbase Triumph “Vitesse” chassis. Into this has been fitted a 1937 4-cylinder 75 by 100 mm. (1,767 c.c.) Triumph “Dolomite” engine, which sits on rubber on the existing mountings. The gearbox comes from a Triumph “Southern Cross” and mates naturally with the “Dolomite” engine. The rear axle is “Vitesse,” giving a ratio of 4.75 to 1, while the wire wheels now carry 5.50 by 17-in. tyres at the front and 5.25 by 17-in. tyres at the back, although it is the owner’s intention to raise the rear wings so that 5.50-in. tyres can be used all round. The radiator is standard “Vitesse,” and the bonnet, very nicely formed, using a Morris “Isis” top panel and Wolseley side panels, is well filled by the engine. The front wings are “Southern Cross,” and those at the rear are from the “Dolomite” saloon, which was scrapped for its components, but some clever adaptation has been done, to very good purpose. Large Lucas headlamps are fitted, and side lamps and front cowling came from the “Southern Cross.” The “Dolomite” instrument panel, with its large speedometer and clock, is retained, as is the fuel tank, the latter being neatly accommodated externally, with the filler next cut down to suit. In order to mount the spare wheel at an angle over the tank which would blend with the wings, a stout mounting bar was made from the footrest out of the back of a Singer “Senior” saloon. The exhaust system, which is very quiet, with its most strident note at 40 m.p.h., is cleverly formed from D.H. “Moth” oleo tubes and a Citroen “7.5” propeller shaft, a Burgess silencer effect being attained. The car offers excellent accommodation, in large, high-backed separate bucket seats or wide rear seat, and is nicely upholstered in leather, with a proper hood and rigid sidescreens. It handles well, the steering being high-geared, but the rear suspension is rather hard, as when we tried the car unaltered “Dolomite” saloon rear springs were in use.
The car went along comfortably at a speedometer 70 (maxima of 60 in third and 80 in top are claimed), and it gives 28 m.p.g. Rather curiously, speed and fuel economy improve at night, so preheating of the charge is being Investigated. The hydraulic brakes are of extreme power. Performance is expected to further improve when the present weak No. 3 needles are replaced by C.D. needles in the S.U. carburetters. This Triumph is a most workmanlike car, and is beautifully finished in jewelescent blue. Clayton is considering disposing of it, however, as he is busy working on his brother’s Lagonda “Rapier,” a standard car, but thoroughly overhauled and with a light 2-seater body shell. At present, the timing-chain tensioner looks like requiring an inspection every 1,000 miles, but plans are in hand to cure this. A very early Rex forecar is also likely to be reconditioned by this energetic re-builder. Incidentally, a 2-cylinder Aster-engined Argyll 4-seater, a single-cylinder Rover, a Humber forecar, a model-T Ford, a V8 King tourer, an Enfield-Alldays 2-seater and a one-time Show-model Arrol-Johnston are amongst the veteran and vintage cars which this garage will scrap if they are not saved.