At a time when Secretary for Trade Mr. Peter Shore was lecturing the country about buying British (although surely he should have been advocating trading in European cars since, by the edict of the people, Britain is a small parcel of the European continent?) it was a comforting feeling, in more senses than political, to be driving the new Triumph 2500S.
I was able to try this latest car, of a make which may well become British Leyland’s prestige product, in about as varied driving conditions as you will encounter in this Island during the summer months — Motorway cruising, dawdling along Shropshire lanes when we were early for a dinner date, twisting it in a hurry over the Welsh hills, negotiating heavy London snarl-ups, and inching it along in what I can only hope, for the sake of the good folk of Kent, was a record hold-up on the A21. This extended getting-to-know the new Triumph top-model was arranged by Ann Whitehouse, who looks after this section of BL Press services with notable efficiency.
What the Triumph design-team has done is to get rid of the never-really-trouble-free petrol-injection 2500PI engine and provide one using two SU HS6 carburetters to give, they claim, a car with the smoothness and silence of the old 2000TC, the performance of the 2500TC, and a little extra refinement of its own. It certainly seemed to me a very nice motor-car under the varied conditions, in which I used it. The engine is a long-stroke (74.7 x 95 mm.) six-cylinder of 2,498 c.c., giving 106 (DIN) b.h.p. at 4,700 r.p.m. but able to operate without anxiety up to 5,750 r.p.m. It is, let us agree, an old-style iron engine, with four main bearings and push-rod o.h.v. In this the BL policy is one of economy, as it is in scrapping fuel-injection, which may require correct servicing but which offers bonuses even on family-style cars in respect of fuel conservation and quick starting.
However, this old-fashioned Triumph Six starts very urgently if the manual choke is employed and it gives adequate performance in conjunction with a four-speed gearbox having overdrive on third and top. You can count on a top pace of around 105 m.p.h., which is mostly purely academic these days, and 0-60 m.p.h. step-off in 11 1/2 seconds.
The power is delivered smoothly and quietly, helped by good sound insulation, so that wind noise is more obtrusive than mechanical cacophony. The gears are changed by a substantial non-spring-loaded lever with long movements. It is a reasonably pleasant one to use unhurriedly, and the very convenient flick-switch for bringing in overdrive is on the lever’s knob. The clutch is rather heavy but smooth, the disc/drum servo single-circuit brakes also smooth, light and progressive. The central handbrake has an enormous grip and small movements.
Comfort is the key-note of this big Triumph. The seats are large and well padded, the steering column adjusts for rake, and there is ample ventilation from side eyeball and central adjustable fresh-air grilles. The trim is cloth, with simulated leather on the doors, and walnut cappings on doors and facia. Pile carpets, well fitted, add the required touch of luxury. There is a vintage look about the facia, with scattered instruments on a wood background. A clock, with seconds hand (why?) on the left is augmented by heat, voltage and fuel-level gauges and the matching, white-digit Smiths speedometer and tachometer. The circular Triumph warning-lights cluster and the rotary lamps’-switch extending from the steering-column are retained, as are the two control-stalks, the r.h. one working the turn-indicators. This one has the horn-button on its extremity but I prefer the horn switch to be on the steering wheel. All knobs are large and well symbolled, the three-spoke steering wheel has a leather-covered rim, quarter-lights are provided in the front doors, and the new 2500S looks every inch a Triumph, although the new-style cast-alloy wheels, shod on the test car with Michelin XAS tyres, and the new badge with emphasis on the “S”, single it out.
The all-independent coil-spring suspension gives an easy ride on normal roads and the power steering, if a little vague, allows three turns from lock-to-lock to he used, for quick response, with a small turning-circle. The engine does not belie its ancient ancestry unless well and truly extended and at 70 on a Motorway the engine speed drops to 2,650 r.p.m. if overdrive is engaged, a very restful pace. This overdrive also helps to give a good r.p.m. figure — over a big mileage I recorded 28.1 m.p.g. The fuel light remains on for a very long time before replenishing of the 14-gallon tank is necessary. The pedals are large but wide-spaced. The heater on the central console has sensible and nicely-contrived controls. Stowage is provided on under-facia shelves and in a lockable, wood-lidded cubby hole. The splines of the i.r.s. prove sticky when starting from rest and, perhaps peculiar to this particular car, irritations were a vibratory rear-view mirror, an external door mirror that was too loosely mounted, and water entering the boot and soaking the carpet if the Triumph was left out in heavy rain.
For those who appreciate a car of crisp Michelotti outward styling combined with a vintage specification and interior, the Triumph 2500S, at £3,353.22, should make its mark. The test car had tinted glass and a Triplex laminated windscreen and in some 1,300 miles I found it to give pleasurable motoring and to have had an oil thirst of almost nil. — W.B.