Class Acts, Part 2: Triumph 2000, 2.5 PI, and 2500 Mk 2

NEW AND (MOSTLY) IMPROVED: TRIUMPH 2000 AND 2.5 PI MK 2

The Mk 2 was largely carryover from a mechanical and structural standpoint: Once again, there was fully independent suspension via MacPherson struts and semi-trailing arms, front disc and rear drum brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, a choice of four-speed manual gearbox (with optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive) or three-speed Borg-Warner 35 automatic, and two available engines: the 1,998 cc (122 cu. in.) OHV six and the 2.5 PI’s long-stroke, 2,498 cc (152 cu. in.) version with Lucas mechanical fuel injection. As before, a 2000 with the manual gearbox needed about 15 seconds to reach 60 mph (97 km/h), but top speed improved a bit, to around 97-98 mph (156-158 km/h), probably due to the better aerodynamics of the longer body. The more powerful 2.5 PI trimmed 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) times to 10 seconds or less and allowed a top speed of more than 115 mph.

The Mk 2 did incorporate some useful changes. Triumph used the facelift as an opportunity to tidy up the dash and minor controls and upgrade the heating and ventilation system, again based on the system developed for the Stag. The 2.5 PI now had a tachometer, allowing the removal of the previous rev limiter. There were also new and better seats, although the previously standard leather upholstery gave way to vinyl or optional “Bri-Nylon” cloth trim, reflecting a growing corporate preoccupation with cost-cutting. (Leather was still available as an extra-cost option at least for a time.)

1971 Triumph 2000 Mk 2 sedan front 3q © 2007 Paul Brown (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)
Triumph 2000 Mk 2 sedans were now 182.3 inches (4,619 mm) long, 8.5 inches (216 mm) longer than the Mk 1. Curiously, when the Mk 2 cars debuted, some sources indicated an 0.25-inch (6.4mm) increase in wheelbase as well, but most sources published after 1970 list an unchanged 106-inch (2,692mm) span. Curb weight was up 80 lb (37 kg), bringing the sedan to about 2,700 lb (1,225 kg), and the 2000’s 1,998 cc (122 cu. in.) now had a slightly higher compression ratio — 9.25 versus 9.0 — although rated output remained 90 net horsepower (67 kW) and 117 lb-ft (159 N-m) of torque. (Photo: “Triumph 2000 my own car” © 2007 Paul Brown; used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license)

A much-appreciated new option was quick-ratio Alford and Alder power steering, a £52 4s 5d ($125) extra. The power assistance was particularly helpful on the 2.5 PI, which with its wide 185HR-13 radial tires (now on 13x5J wheels) could be a struggle to park, but the system didn’t have an abundance of road feel and wasn’t especially precise.

Handling precision had not been among the Mk 1’s leading virtues and the Mk 2 offered no great improvements in that area. The suspension was softer than before — how much of that was due to the increased weight of the revised body and how much was attributable to a change in spring and damping rates is unclear — and body roll was more pronounced than ever. (Triumph had intended to add a front anti-roll bar to all Mk 2 cars, but that item was deleted from the sedans as part of the cost-cutting campaign and fitted only to estates and some police-package sedans.) The wider rear track and higher polar moment of inertia improved stability, but brisk cornering resulted in substantial understeer. If you forced the issue, Mk 2 sedans had good grip, particularly on 2.5 PI models with their fatter tires, but the Mk 2 still wasn’t the sort of car that invited B-road corner-carving.

The Mk 2 was better on the motorway, where an accommodating ride, well-trimmed interior, and (at least on the 2.5 PI) a flexible engine with long-legged gearing encouraged a relaxed but confident pace. In a later era, Triumph would probably have offered a sportier model or sport package, but as it was, even the 2.5 PI was essentially a luxury cruiser, more akin to Rover’s big 3½-Litre (P5) than the Rover P6 or BMW’s similarly priced but smaller 2002.

Triumph 2000 Mk 2 sedan rear 3q © 2012 Stig Baumeyer (used with permission)
The Mk 2 sedan’s new tail reduced drag and allowed a longer trunk with about 30% greater volume than the Mk 1’s, finally providing adequate luggage space. Unfortunately, the trunk was about 2 inches (51 mm) shallower than before and the new taillight design no longer allowed the decklid to open to bumper height, which made for a much greater liftover height. This car’s rear tow bar is an aftermarket addition. (Photo © 2012 Stig Baumeyer; used with permission)

Despite signs of incidental penny-pinching, the Mk 2 cars were more expensive than the Mk 1: The 2000 now started at £1,080 (£1,412 5s 10d with purchase tax, about $3,400 at the contemporary exchange rate), the 2.5 PI at £1,220 (£1,595 1s 4d, about $3,830), although even the latter was no more expensive than the marginally slower and noticeably peakier Rover 2000TC; both undercut even the cheapest Jaguar XJ6 2.8 by a healthy degree. A Vauxhall Victor VX 4/90 or Ford Corsair 2000E was cheaper still and had marginally better performance than a Triumph 2000, but the Triumph still filled a useful niche for people who wanted a reasonably affordable luxury sedan rather than a dressed-up mass-market car.

1979 Triumph 2500S dash © 2013 Bryce Chessum (used with permission)
The dash and steering wheel of the Mk 2 2.5 PI and 2500S were very similar to those of the Stag, although the positions of the tachometer (included only on 2.5 PI and 2500S models) and speedometer were reversed, the warning light cluster was centrally mounted, and the steering wheel bus had a different cover. The 2000, 2000TC, and 2500TC had a unique steering wheel and a slightly different instrument panel with a clock in place of the voltage and temperature gauges, which were mounted instead in a single circular pod in the space that would otherwise have housed the tachometer. The switch atop the gearshift lever is for the Laycock de Normanville J-type overdrive, which was standard equipment on the 2500S and 1973–1975 2.5 PI models. The overdrive, usable in both third and fourth gears, was an extra-cost option on 2000/2000TC and 2500TC cars. (Photo: “
Hawkes Bay kerb 003″
© 2013 Bryce Chessum; used with permission)

PUMA IN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE

Even before the Mk 2 debuted, Triumph was already giving thought to its eventual replacement, codenamed Puma, which was tentatively scheduled to replace the Mk 2 around 1973. Puma, again designed by Michelotti with input from in-house design chief Les Moore, was not a second facelift, but an updated platform that was intended to have significant commonality with other future Triumph cars.

1973 Triumph 2.5 PI sedan front 3q © 2012 Charles01 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)
As before, the performance leader of the Mk 2 line was the Triumph 2.5 PI (badged “2500 Injection”). As its name implies, the 2.5 PI had a 2,498 cc (152 cu. in.) six with Lucas Mk 2 mechanical fuel injection. At launch, the injected six made 132 net horsepower (98 kW) and 153 lb-ft (207 N-m) of torque, but 1973 and later cars, like this one, had a milder cam that cost about 10 hp (7 kW). A useful feature of the injected cars was a taller axle ratio, 3.45 rather than the 2000’s 4.10 axle, providing much more relaxed and economical cruising — particularly with overdrive, which became standard in 1973. (Photo: “Triumph 2500 PI Mk 2 first reg May 1973 2498cc” © 2012 Charles01; resized and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license)

By 1970, however, BLMC management was struggling to come to grips with its sprawling and confusingly overlapping product line, much of which was in need of update or replacement. While Lord Stokes was undoubtedly fond of Triumph, the corporate coffers were not nearly deep enough for everything the individual divisions wanted to do, particularly where those projects directly competed with one another.

Over the next year and a half, Puma went from mostly autonomous Triumph project to styling proposal for a joint Rover-Triumph project to would replace the 2000/2.5 PI and P6. In early 1971, the Puma design, further refined by freelance designer William Towns, lost an internal design competition to the P10, a slick five-door hatchback designed by Rover’s David Bache, and became a dead issue. (The P10 subsequently became the 1976 Rover SD1.)

1974 Rover 3500 front 3q © 2009 The Car Spy (CC BY 2.0 Generic)
Although by 1969 both were products of the same corporation, the big Triumph and the Rover P6 remained fierce commercial rivals until the end of their respective production runs in 1977. This is a 1974 Rover 3500, equipped with Rover’s 3,528 cc (215 cu. in.) ex-Buick aluminum V-8. With 153 PS DIN (112 kW) and 203 lb-ft (275 N-m) of torque, the 3500 was a good deal faster than a 2.5 PI even with automatic transmission, but the Rover cost about 10% more than the Triumph. (Photo: “Rover 3500 V8” © 2009 The Car Spy; used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)

Even if it had won the contest, the Puma would probably not have been offered as a Triumph. The BLMC board at that point was dominated by former Rover and Triumph executives who by 1971 had reaffirmed their previous conclusion that Triumph should focus on sports cars and smaller sedans, leaving larger luxury models to Rover and Jaguar. (Alvis, sadly, had been lost in the shuffle.) The 2000 and 2.5 PI would continue until the SD1 was ready, but after that, Triumph would be out of the large sedan business.

2500TC AND 2500S

The 2.5 PI continued to sell well in Mk 2 form despite spiraling prices; by 1972, a 2.5 PI sedan ran to £1,995 (about $5,000), while an estate with power steering and overdrive was up to £2,321 (around $5,800). Nonetheless, not everyone was happy with the Lucas injection system, which was expensive, still not trouble-free, and costly to repair. There were also complaints about the injected engine’s rough idle, which prompted a switch in 1973 to a milder cam (shared with late TR6 PIs) that trimmed peak output to 124 PS (91 kW) DIN and 143 lb-ft (193 km/h) of torque. The 2000 was cheaper and less fussy than the injected engine, but the smaller engine was now rated at only 84 PS (62 kW) DIN and thus was rather underpowered for this segment, particularly with automatic.

The obvious solution was to offer a carbureted version of the 2,498 cc (152 cu. in.) engine as an intermediate step between the 2000 and 2.5 PI. Why Triumph didn’t do this from the beginning of Mk 2 production we really don’t know; Triumph had been selling a carbureted 2.5 in North American TRs since 1968 and for 1972 had commonized the block and head of the 2.0 and 2.5 engines. However, it was actually Triumph’s South African subsidiary that first installed the carbureted 2.5-liter six in the sedan, creating the locally assembled Triumph Chicane in 1972. Australian Motor Industries in Port Melbourne, Victoria, which assembled Triumphs for the Australian market, followed suit in 1973 with the 2500TC and a similar model was belatedly introduced in the U.K. in mid-1974.

1979 Triumph 2500S engine © 2013 Bryce Chessum (used with permission)
Mk 1 and 1970–1972 Mk 2 2000s used dual Zenith-Stromberg 150 CD carburetors, but later carbureted cars switched to S.U.s: HS4s for the 2000/2000TC and 2500TC, bigger HS6s for the 2500S. The Stromberg CD carburetor had originally been developed by Standard-Triumph engineers to avoid the exorbitant prices charged by S.U. following its acquisition by BMC. After the BLMC merger, that was no longer an issue, although carbureted North American Triumphs retained the Stromberg units because they made it easier to pass federal emissions standards. (Photo: “Hawkes Bay kerb 011” © 2013 Bryce Chessum; used with permission)

The engine of the British 2500TC was generally similar to that of the U.S.-spec TR6 minus the add-on emissions controls, although two S.U. HS4s replaced the federalized cars’ Zenith-Stromberg carburetors. This arrangement yielded a lackluster 99 PS (73 kW) DIN, but a useful 133 lb-ft (180 N-m) of torque. Combined with the 2.5 PI’s 3.45 axle, the carbureted engine neatly split the difference between the 2000 and the 2.5 PI in both performance and price, but the 2500TC’s performance was only average by the standards of its increasingly competitive segment.

The 2500TC and 2.5 PI were available concurrently for about a year, but production of the expensive and troublesome injected engine ceased in the early summer of 1975, leading to the deletion of both the TR6 PI and 2.5 PI. The latter was replaced by a new 2500S model, also carbureted, but with revised intake and exhaust manifolds and bigger S.U. HS6 carburetors, giving 106 PS (78 kW) DIN and 139 lb-ft (188 N-m) of torque. The 2500S also had a front anti-roll bar (the only sedan model so equipped except police vehicles) and 175SR-14 tires on 14×5.5 alloy wheels, borrowed from the Stag. Overdrive was standard and the optional power steering was also revised to provide more road feel. The 2500S handled notably better than the 2000 or 2.5 PI, although the ride was less comfortable and the binding of the rear halfshaft splines remained an annoying problem.

The 2500TC remained available, as did the 2000, now renamed 2000TC (although 2000s had always had twin carburetors). The venerable 1,998 cc (122 cu. in.) six now had 91 PS (67 kW) DIN and 111 lb-ft (151 N-m) of torque, finally making the 2000 a 100-mph (160-km/h) car.

1976 Triumph 2500S sedan front 3q © 2012 Sicnag (CC BY 2.0 Generic - modified by Aaron Severson)
Although it wasn’t as powerful as the 2.5 PI it succeeded, the 2500S was in some respects the sportiest version of the big Triumph sedan, with better handling than its quicker brother. The 2.5 PI was faster all out, but the 2500S wasn’t far off in acceleration, probably thanks mostly to having similar torque output. (Photo: “1976 Triumph 2500S MkII Saloon” © 2012 Sicnag; resized and modified 2014 Aaron Severson and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license with modifications offered under the same license)

Since Triumph engineers were responsible for developing the new OHC six-cylinder engine slated for eventual use in the SD1 and that engine was originally based (albeit very loosely) on the older Triumph six, Rover-Triumph considered installing the new engine in the 2000/2500 body, possibly accompanied by an additional facelift. A few prototypes were built, but the project was abandoned by mid-1973. The new engine was rapidly diverging from its roots and neither redesigning it to make it fit the 2000’s engine bay nor redesigning the sedan’s front end to accommodate a longer engine was an attractive option, particularly with BLMC lurching toward insolvency. Instead, the Mk 2 cars soldiered on with a new grille that looked even more like the Stag’s, minor equipment shuffling, and the aforementioned model changes. A 1975 plan to extend the model’s life by replacing the OHV six with the 2,227 cc (136 cu. in.) E-series engine was also abandoned.

In the Mk 2’s final years, British Leyland (as BLMC was formally known following the 1975 nationalization) seemed loath to spend any of the corporation’s now publicly subsidized resources marketing the big Triumphs, but the 2000 and 2500 were still reasonably competitive against a growing horde of Continental rivals and dressed-up family sedans like the Ford Granada Ghia. If you were looking for something genuinely sporty, the Triumph wasn’t likely to suit, but there was still a place in the market for a largish sedan with nicer appointments and more cachet than a Vauxhall or Leyland’s own Princess.

1976 Triumph 2500S estate front 3q © 2011 Charles01 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)
As with the previous 2.5 PI, the 2500S was also available in estate form, although since the estate was about 150 lb (66 kg) heavier than the sedan, performance suffered somewhat. Mk 2 estates are 5 inches (127 mm) shorter than sedans; the estate shares the Mk 2 sedan’s front clip, but the rear is carried over from the Mk 1, presumably for reasons of production economy. (The estate bodies were actually converted from finished sedan shells by an outside company, Coventry’s Carbodies Ltd.) Note the grille, added to all models in the spring of 1974. (Photo: “Triumph 2500S estate 2498cc 1976” © 2011 Charles01; resized and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license)

Production of the 2000TC, 2500TC, and 2500S continued after the introduction of the V-8 SD1 in mid-1976, finally ending in May 1977; some overseas CKD assembly continued for another year or so. The Triumphs remained on sale into the 1978 model year in the U.K. and until 1979 in certain export markets. By the end, rampant mid-decade inflation had pushed the price of even a basic 2000TC to more than £4,000 (over $7,000) and a loaded 2500S to almost £6,000 (around $10,500), a sum that two years earlier would have bought a Jaguar XJ6 4.2.

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  1. Spent five years in London from ’69. These Triumphs were older folks cars and more than that, Daily Telegraph reading conservative types who couldn’t come to grips with the loss of Empire and long hair on men, years after the Beatles became popular. Met a few of these fossils. Anyone with the slightest bit of style and modernity bought the Rover 2000, rather than the incredibly gangly and awkward looking Triumph. The Rover looked great.

    The real sales leaders were the Cortina and Capri 1600E models, with Rostyle wheels. They looked good, had a decent engine and were everywhere. The Corsair appealed to the tweedy types on reduced means who couldn’t afford the Rover, so sales were slim, not helped by the clunky V4. From 1972 or so, the new Ford Granada with Essex V6 and finally sorted-out IRS did quite well

    When the flash harry Cortina came out looking like a miniature ’65 Chev, private buyers tended towards Volvo 144s instead of Cortina Ghias which were labelled coarse and American. BMWs cost a fortune. Audi 100 LS was the cheap big German car you saw everywhere, and the Saab 99 did well right from the start.

    Chrysler was in the process of ruining Rootes from solid cars to cheap, cheap tin boxes like the Hillman Avenger (Cricket) and the 160 and 180, and quickly became irrelevant. Chrysler were even more inept than BMH. The slack there was taken up by Peugeot who bought one of the old Rootes factories from Chrysler, and began to do very well in the UK market.

    BMH, well they were trying to flog Austin Maxis and Allegros and Morris Marinas, but the new VW Passat began to kind of cut the legs out of their market for FWD cars that didn’t, quite frankly, suck. Folks with less money and notions of buying British continued to buy Minis and Austin 1100/1300 and became inured to stalling out in the rain – never saw any other models by the side of the motorways in wet weather.

    This Triumph was the last of the old-fogey mobiles. Anyone, and I mean anyone who could barely afford them bought the Jaguar XJ6 2.8, 170 bhp. A ride in one of those was like stepping into the future compared to this mass market stuff, but nobody thought the less of you for getting a Rover 3500 or the big old Rover 3 litre with the Buick V8 – the Chrysler 300 of 2004 looked like a bad copy of that big Rover.

    The Triumph 2000 was really mediocrity for the wannabe uppercrust who wanted leather seats and a bit o’ wood on the dash, while they ambled down country lanes, dreaming of the Raj. Not sustainable. The world had changed.

    My question really is, why did you pick this underachiever to feature on this site?

    1. The 2000 was certainly a much more conservative and less technologically ambitious car than the Rover, but I’d be hard-pressed to call the Triumph an underachiever (especially compared to definite underachievers of the time like the Austin 3-Litre). From a commercial standpoint, the Triumph outsold the four-cylinder Rovers, usually by a solid if not overwhelming margin.

      The XJ6 was more sophisticated, but was also a good bit more expensive: At launch, the cheapest XJ6 2.8 was £385 more than a 2000 and still had more of a flash bookmaker aura than I assume your typical middle-class Tory wanted to embrace. Jaguar sold about as many Series I 2.8 saloons in five years as Triumph moved in one, so Triumph clearly had a niche.

      It’s no surprise that the Cortina 1600E sold better than all of them, but then the Cortina was a step down in size and two steps down in price, so they were not direct competitors in that sense.

    2. Enjoyed reading this article, very comprehensive and well-written.

      I join the others in disagreeing with Bruce Armstrong, although the points he made regarding Chrysler’s management of the Rootes Group and BMH’s (so-called) product line were spot on. The Hillman Avenger, however, was a solid and reliable saloon. The CHRYSLER Avenger which it devolved into, was more worthy of your comments.

      Firstly, I don’t consider the Triumph saloon to be “gangly” at all. Yes, the glass area looks too high and the body too narrow when viewed from the rear, but the lengthened Mk2 shape has good side-on proportions and frontal styling looks handsome and aggressive. I like the styling of the Rover P6 also, but don’t think it’s higher level of modernity compensated for that rear wheel arch being cut off far too low. Made the boot section look like it belonged on a different car, a ‘la those horrible current 7-Series bootlids!

      Unlike nowadays, you used to be able to buy a true entry-level luxury car. I lament how cars like this don’t exist in the modern marketplace. I’m talking about a car not priced high enough to be unaffordable to most people (Jag’s, Benzo’s, etc) or a tarted up entry-level model (Cortina Ghia, Vauxhall Cresta) based on the same design and mechanicals as said cheaper sibling. The Triumph and Rover 2000’s were perfect entry-level luxury cars, offering more refinement and class than the mainstream saloons but without exorbitant price tags. Basically, the equivalents of Mercury and Oldsmobile in the Ford and GM lineups.

      If you were a “wannabe uppercrust” individual who thought a “bit o’ wood on the dash” (real or fake) and leather/pleather seats made your car more desirable and aspirational…..

      You’d have walked right past the Triumph dealership and bought a Wolseley 1800.

      Jarrod

    3. Are you sure xj6 series1 2.8 had 170bhp? Seen 140bhp quoted…thanks..

      1. It was 180 bhp, actually (I just now looked it up) … but, that was when Jaguar was still commonly quoting outputs in the old SAE gross system. I don’t know recall offhand if Jaguar quoted a net or DIN figure for the early 2.8-liter engine at launch, but either way, 140 hp net sounds about right. So, the answer to this one is, “Yes — and also yes.”

    4. That’s not quite how I remember things : ) A lot of people (most) would claim the Triumph saloons had a sportier, younger image than Rover in the sixties and seventies. It was Triumph after all, not Rover, that built sports cars ….

      1. On the other hand, in general deportment, the Triumph 2000/2.5 PI/2500 felt more Roverish while the Rover 2000 was more what one might have expected from Triumph. A conundrum, to be sure, but it didn’t seem to do the sales of either car any harm.

    5. I’d dispute the 1600 engine. A wheezy gutless pig. Hard to work on.
      The 2000 OHC engine was vastly superior to the Kent.

  2. I can’t agree with Bruce Armstrong. Having grown up in 50’s London, I equated Triumph with sporty cars because of the TR line, while Rover was universally equated with conservative middle-aged professionals. The Rover P6 was certainly adventurous, but the interior of the pre-facelift models was decidedly “pipe and slippers” and as a youngster I found the Triumph more appealing.

    1. Triumph’s reputation was certainly why Standard decided that brand had more traction, market-wise, than the Standard marque.

      Speaking both as an American and with the benefit of hindsight, it’s harder for me to judge how the cars were perceived in their time, but from my perspective, both the P6 and the Triumph 2000 had their points and were different enough in character (while still occupying the same class) that it’s clear why there was a healthy market for both. The P6 is really more my style, but it’s not difficult to understand the appeal of traditional English luxury cues in a tidier and more modern package.

  3. when i was younger i allways wanted a triumph, and the one i finally got was a 2500 pi, mk2 and it was allready 12years old when i got it,but i loved it, everything about it, i loved the power, the 3speed auto,the fake leather seats,the full sun roof,every time i drove it felt special,and it was solid,i loved the admiring looks it got, people would come up to me in a garage and ask if i wanted sell it.and on top of all that it was a beautiul looking car.and it drove so smooth, what an engine,out of all the cars i have ever owned, my favourite will allways be my 2.5 PI,HOWEVER it was not the most reliable of cars, but than it was getting on.and as for running costs, the crude lucas petrol injection system, really was not up to much,even back than i was never ending putting fuel in it,but as far as i was concerned,it was worth every penny.im a fan of all triumphs,but, but 2500,well a different class….

  4. Given the reliability problems with the early SD1, it’s maybe for the best that BL didn’t try to engineer any additional versions, although the one off estate looked great. Supposedly the Rover 213/216 that succeeded the Acclaim was to be badged a Triumph.

    Ironically long after the demise of the mass market executive class, the Jaguar XF eventually topped the UK executive sales chart, although in the last couple of years it has again lost out to newer German rivals. I wonder if the forthcoming 3-series rival will do the same.

    Another great article Aaron, have you considered covering the disastrous BMC 1800/2200 land crab and it’s stylish but badly built successor the Leyland Princess/Ambassador. Or on a slightly more upbeat note the Jaguar XJ6 and the XJ40, which I think holds the record for the longest gestation period of any car.

    1. It would have made sense for the Rover 213 to be badged as a Triumph, since the Acclaim was based on the Mk1 Honda Ballade and the Rover 200-series was based on the Ballade Mk2, but BL/Austin Rover had already decided to consolidate its brands. In some cases, I don’t think it mattered much — I don’t know that many tears were shed for Morris, for instance, but with Triumph, I think that was regrettable.

      In retrospect, it’s probably just as well that BL didn’t try to do any spinoffs of the SD1 given the trouble they had just building the basic car in a satisfactory manner, but I do think that even without those issues, they basically halved their market share by abandoning the big Triumphs.

      No plans for the Land crab in the near future, although they covered it recently over at Curbside Classic.

  5. Good article! Although I can see the virtues of the Rover P6, the “big saloon” Triumph (as it was nick-named back then, put one next to any modern car now and you see that they are really small) always “did” much more for me. That silky six, better styling … The broad pleated leather seats and plasticky dash of the Rover did not help too.
    I had a 2000 Mk2 (1972) with leather upholstery – this was still an option for Mk2 cars. Have seen other Mk2’s with leather too so that needs changing in the article. For me the 2000 Mk1 is the best of the bunch, original 60’s looks and better materials, a bit nimbler and lighter, “futuristic” dash although the Mk2 dash is nice too.

    Rootes is missing from your site! What about an article on Hillman in the USA as seen by the Americans? I would love to read the American point. They did quite well in the 50’s with the Minx as a small car (saloon, estate and convertible, luxury Singer versions). Later tried with the Imp which was a great car but not quite for the USA. The Imp is a similar story like the Corvair – a great concept but reliability problems killed it. Mostly caused by bad production but also by non-understanding too-simple Hillman dealers / mechanics which were not used to modern technology.

    1. Thanks for the note on the leather. That clarifies a point with which I’d struggled; a lot of contemporary reviews imply that the choices on the Mk2 were Ambla or Bri-Nylon, although I couldn’t see why even British Leyland wouldn’t sell you leather on a car like this if you were willing to pay for it. (Photos aren’t especially helpful on this point.) I’ve amended the text.

      I hope to get to the Rootes Group at some point, although possibly starting with the Sunbeam Alpine/Tiger, which are about the only ones that have much recognition today. (There are collectors in the States with Imps — I’ve seen some — but not many.) I suppose there’s also the Horizon, if you want to count that, although that was developed after Chrysler’s acquisition and I don’t think most Americans are really aware that there WAS a European version.

  6. My father had a 2.5 PI …..FXD 611J…….No power steering, static seat belts, overdrive. It was maroon with tan plastic interior. He bought it in 1972 from Henleys and sold it in 1982. The car did 140,000 miles in my father’s hands, the fuel pump let him down once and that was it. Lots of great memories, but i remember cruising at 100 mph on the motorway and then accelerating to 115 mph. A great car that was way ahead of its time. PI is now on almost every car now. The PI was not the problem, the problem was fitters who were used to A40’s, Morris Minors and Marina’s who had no idea what they were doing.

    1. The Mk2 PI system suffered assembly issues, to be sure, but there were also a number of design flaws, including the fuel starvation issue (eventually resolved, but annoying) and the tendency to overheat the fuel pump. I suppose those were not the fault of the injection system per se, but some aspects of the production Mk2 system were really not ideal. For example, the engineers at Lucas were not keen on Triumph’s multiple-butterfly/crank-lever system, which was not what they’d originally designed and opened the door to synchronization problems, especially at high mileage or if the linkage was disassembled for any reason.

      In a real sense, later electronic fuel injection systems are less complicated (albeit more sophisticated) than the earlier mechanical units. The mechanical systems used for racing and aircraft engines were simpler still, but racing engines don’t spend a lot of time at idle or part-throttle, so competition systems like the Lucas Mk1 could get by with a straightforward throttle linkage for the fuel cam. Once you started trying to design a mechanical system for road cars, you ran into trouble because it takes a complex vacuum metering system to cope with extended tickover or part-throttle cruising. The mechanical systems could be made to work pretty well, but many of them are bears to fix if the metering unit goes wrong. It generally takes a well-trained and very competent technician to set it up properly, which was definitely the case with the Lucas Mk2 system. (That’s why Triumph advised service technicians not to even try opening or adjusting the metering unit and recommended replacing it instead — although that presupposes that the replacement unit is set up properly, which wasn’t necessarily the best assumption!)

      Beyond that, the 2.5 PI engine had what we could call foibles, as distinct from flaws. The early engines had a rather hot cam profile and relied on the injection (set up quite rich, from what I can tell) to avoid overcarburetion at lower engine speeds. That provided a lot of power, but made tickover a bit hairy, which a lot of owners didn’t like. It’s not difficult to see how the system developed a bad reputation, even if it was a little worse than it actually deserved.

  7. I finished Part 2 today at lunch and read Part 1 last week. These cars are really attractive to me. I actually used to think the Stag was a rehashed 2000, so it was interesting to read all the development details of them both. Great article!

  8. I just stumbled on this site a couple of days ago after searching for info on the Buick Riviera.

    What a great series of Triumph articles. Very informative about how these cars came into being, and their place in the motoring landscape.

  9. Nice interesting reading. Something that has always puzzled me is why the Stag dashboard is so much narrower ( a good 4″) than the 2000/2.5 when all were built supposedly on the same floorpan. Where did those inches disappear to in the Stag?

    1. The Stag is a little bit narrower than the Mk2 sedan, but the difference in overall width (without mirrors) is only about an inch and a half, which I think is accounted for by the Stag’s distinct fenders. (The Stag and the Mk2 2000/2500 share no exterior panels.) The front and rear track dimensions are also identical or nearly so, so I think the difference in overall width is in the sheet metal rather than the structure. As for the dashboard, I haven’t found any indication in my research as to WHY Triumph didn’t just use the same dash for both. Given the Stag’s price, I could see a justification if the Stag dash looked distinct, but the two panels look so similar that even when the cars were new, some press reports claimed the Stag used the sedan’s fascia, which is clearly not the case. It is puzzling.

  10. My late father was a keen Triumph devotee back in the 60’s.Having previously owned an Austin Westminster, followed by two Morris Oxfords,he bought his first 2000 new in 1966 in gunmetal blue with blue interior,costing about 1000 pounds.It was a revelation at the time with wood door cappings,quality carpets,and generally good build quality.At that time you were “noticed” driving around in one,it was classy.

    The engine,although no fireball knocked out 90bhp and 117lb/ft of torque.It could hit the magic “ton” and impressively was flexible enough to pull away cleanly from 10mph in top gear.

    Taken by the car,he bought his second in 1968 in Valencia blue,and came standard with black leather interior,lovely car,smell inside was great!

    His final Triumph before moving on to Audi 100’s was a 1970 mk 2 in sienna brown with tan interior.This was a marked improvement over the mk1 with improved interior and body styling.

    Definitely a landmark car and will always have fond memories of the 66 model.

    1. The 2-liter cars had adequate power with manual shift (and were very smooth and flexible as long as you stayed south of 5,000 rpm), although none of them were quite powerful enough to hit a true 100 mph without a slight grade or favorable wind — the speedometer was shall we say prone to flattery. On the other hand, Standard Triumph were well aware that with the 2-liter six, anything you added on top you would lose on the bottom, both in flexibility and economy, so in that regard they found a reasonable compromise. (The injected cars of course are another matter.)

      The Mk1 is an interesting-looking car and I would say the more original design, although it’s hard not to argue that the Mk2 is the handsomer version and I think somewhat better-proportioned as well. (The Mk2 also looks bigger, although it really is only marginally so, while the Mk1 seems smaller in person than it actually is.)

  11. The first and the last Big Triumph, with a long career (1963-77) says much about the original design which was a big hit from day one. The car sold very well in most markets (US market was a failure, only offered in the Mk1 version) – however the Mk2 as Autocar said in 1969, about the 2.5 Pi Mk2, “Wake up British Leyland, you are producing the best mid size saloon money can buy…”
    Had Triumph been funded correctly the Triumph V8 (3000) would no doubt have been installed and would have been a fitting flagship. There was talk by BL in the mid 70s of running the Mk2’s alongside the Rover SD1, but sadly it wasn’t mean’t to be. The cars were still selling well right up to their demise, which demonstrates the loyal customer base the range enjoyed…. Sadly for BL their demise and quality control problems on the Rover Sd1 saw many customers jump ship, such as my Dad to the plethora of executives saloons which had infiltrated the market by the late 70s….. Fords Granada’s 2.3 /2.8, Cortina 2.3, Volvo’s240/260, Reanult 20/30s, Saab 900, Aud’s 100 all muscled in and the rest as they say is history…… My own personal choice would be a late 2500S with overdrive, power steering, tints and of course broad-cord nylon seats, with a webasto sunroof to finish the car off….. One day!

    1. I’ve got that car !
      pimento red. I had to make it from two others but I had a vision and i wasn’t gonna stop until it materialized. take one 2.5TC. add a 2500S running gear including alloys and anti roll bar and dash and you’ve got the car in your preferred colour. when finishing year 12 school – I would walk to the bus stop and notice an S parked outside a particular house and told myself one day I’d have one….well I have a stag a 2500s and a motorbike(new triumph)

  12. Great article Aaron – well written
    We had both the P6 & Triumph 2000’s CKD assembled in Nelson, New Zealand. The Triumph was the cheaper car & better suited to the NZ conditions here, where top speed was not an issue, but rather, good suspension & grunt for towing our undulating roads. Probably outsold the P6 2 to 1
    I had the P6 2000 for approx. 5 years, which I found very reliable & comfortable but agonizingly slow & heavy on our hills – talk about an over engineered car! Bought a Peugeot 404 followed by a 504 – lighter & way more suspension + a little quicker off the line than either british barges.
    It was felt in these parts, that the Triumphs were not well screwed together, local assembly was blamed, however the P6 was OK. The XJ6 was assembled on the same line as well & had many reliability issues.

    Arron, I’d love to hear your comments on the under-rated pugs as well as the Renault 16? Presumably these were on the U.S. market?

    1. We did get the 16 for a while, although I can’t say I’ve ever even seen one.

  13. I think the 2.5 PI is greatly underrated. The silky smooth 6-cylinder engine giving effortles cruising, yet sufficient punch for something a bit more aggressive. Mine was a successor to a very hot Lotus Elan +2 and although not in that league did not disappoint. Its successor was an Alfetta.
    The car was utterly reliable untlil the fuel pump decided to stop working in the rush hour traffic queue southbound at the Comet roundabout on the A1. Cue embarrassment, a push, a pint, an on the way again. I loved it.
    The contemporary Rover 2200TC had better suspension, roadholding and a horrible instrument layout. The engine was unreliable, tending to chew its bearings at 20000 miles…
    By comparison the Alfas I had after were mechanically bomb-proof. Theit interiors fell to bits with time and they rotted, but, what the heck, they drove brilliantly.

    1. That seems to have been more or less the critical consensus of the time: that the Rover handled better, but that the Triumph (with either of the sixes) had a drivetrain more in keeping with the luxury car image. Was yours a Mk1 or Mk2? Some of the early problems (such as the fuel pump starvation issue) were eventually resolved, although the reputation lingered.

  14. I have a 1968 Australian assembled Mk 1 Triumph that has an upgraded TR5 spec, fuel injected 2.5 in it, and it absolutely flies.
    I’m not sure where the barge like handling comments come from either, mine had Pedders suspension put in it close to 20 years ago, and with 1″ smaller diameter wheels and 225 profile tyres it handles like a go cart, but even with the standard suspension and 175’s it used to comfortably out handle, and out brake any stock 6 cyl ford, or holden from the same era.

    1. I’ve never seen anyone call it a barge, and I don’t think I did. The Triumph was a modest-sized, reasonably well-balanced sedan with fully independent suspension, front discs, and (usually) radial tires, so it was in another league from big American or Australian sedans of the period. (On the other hand, big American and Australian sedans of the late sixties didn’t exactly set a high bar for handling or braking prowess, at least without optional equipment that I think was more common on test cars than in the real world.) However, comparing the Triumph to other contemporary British or European sedans of some sporting pretension, as contemporary testers did, it was clear that it was more comfort-biased.

  15. Reading this brings back memories .Years ago dad bought a Triumph Mk2 2.5 PI .Compared with the other Australian offerings at prices my dad could
    afford it was a revelation in comfort and road holding.Nice to travel
    in it had low wind noise good brakes and plenty of overtaking power.
    The fuel injection pump would need ice around it sometimes on hot days
    I liked it so much I bought it of my Dad when he sold it.It did need
    a fair bit of TLC by the time I had it but at least I was rewarded with
    something nice to drive and I drove it hard
    The worst point was extremely heavy steering at parking speeds.
    Still not bad to look at considering how long ago they were built.
    I believe the body was designed by Bertone.

  16. I just realised the body was by Michelotti not Bertone

    1. Yup — as explained in Part 1 of the article, Michelotti did the 2000/2.5 PI, along with many (though not all) of Triumph’s other cars of this period.

  17. I still own a TR5 ( first Triumph with the 2.5 fuel injected six). In 1976 I owned an auto 2.5 PI. Built like a tank, smooth as sand off a silver spoon and, for a family car, an advanced specification and cosseting comfort. It was, as many have said, also a handsome and striking car that was among Micholotti’s best efforts for Triumph. Much admired and a solid seller in Australia, it held its own against the thrust of BMW and was considered a worthy rival, both in performance and market position. With wife and 4 yr old son aboard, on a trip to west New South Wales, the Triumph had easily swallowed three hundred miles since an early start from.Sydney. I decided to push on at dusk to the next large town, a hundred miles on. The car dispatched this in just on 75 minutes, wife and son dozing unconcerned at 100 mph indicated, the car totally in its stride and unfussed. With fitment of a Bosch fuel pump and attention by a good mechanic, the Fuel Injection system never caused s moment’s worry.Very underrated, these superb vehicles could have been the basis for Triumph to go on to battle BMW with proper funding and development, sadly not achieved in the dog’s breakfast of British Leyland. As for the sneering condescension of your first responder, he tells us more of his own inadequacies than to properly comment on a great line of cars. Your article was much appreciated and comprehensive, if somewhat understated.

    1. Several people have commented about the Triumph sedans being rivals for BMW – it is somewhat ironic then that I believe BMW now own the rights to the name Triumph! There has been occasional rumours of them producing something with the Triumph name on it but nothing so far.

      1. Even more ironic is that the founder of Triumph (in its original form, before being resurrected by Standard in the ’40s) was German, looking for a catchy brand name for the English market.

  18. I have owned 4 Triumph 2000s the first being an ex Oxfordshire police car that was a mk1 and a 2.5 but the injection had been replaced by 175 cds because they did not trust the injection system. I then hankered after a mk2 and purchased one but it was a proper rot box. This was due to the body panels being of foreign origin and were rusty when it came out of the factory. My 3rd one was an estate and I really loved it. Its main fault was it was a 1973 car and I had to pay road fund license on it. I sold it in 2007 for very little money. Last year I purchased a mk2 auto in a very sorry state but I have persevered and it is now fully restored. The only problem with them now is that body spares are very hard to come by. This is due to the banger racers smashing them up and suppliers do not want to hold stocks. I love these cars as they are smooth, heavy and are different to anything else on the road.

  19. great article
    well written and researched
    I am lucky to own a time warp 1970 PI that went into hibernation in 1974 and was re awakened last year.
    Now fully restored it is like new and still smells of new car. Having had herald and still having a GT6 the upscaling in the quality and luxury of the Big saloon compared to its siblings is amazing.
    It is an absolute pleasure to drive .

    Re body panels see the register website or club triumph website as lloyd reed is getting many re manufactured.

    My car will be in triumph world in near future

  20. I cannot agree with mr Armstrong my dad bought out first 2.5 pic when I was 9 yrs old a white one with red interior went all the way to Italy and back never had problem with injection system and now he has another two no problems with it . I have now bought a mint condition one no rust like new for 9000 pound only done 34000 miles from new and is no my prize possesion I intend to show this car and be on the cover of triumph world .
    Theses cars were way ahead of their time and first salon with injection system every manufacturer laughed now look every car is injection

    1. As regards the injection, I think it’s work pointing out that electronic fuel injection is actually simpler in many respects than mechanical injection of the kind Triumph used for the 2.5 PI. The great challenge of indirect injection, at least for passenger cars, is metering. For race cars, aircraft engines, and so forth, it’s simpler because the engine spends most of its time at or near full throttle, but passenger cars are a huge headache — not only do they need to be able to perform at WOT, they need to idle well and tolerate all manner of erratic part-throttle operation.

      With injection, handling those complex metering demands really requires a computer, whether digital or analog. An analog system of the required sophistication (like the various mechanical injection systems offered on production cars) tends to be extremely complicated and thus potentially very delicate or very finicky — you have lots of weights, springs, and linkages that have to be adjusted just so for everything to work properly. By comparison, electronic injection is much easier, which is why electronic systems have become commonplace and reliable whereas many mechanical ones had a reputation for being difficult to maintain.

      For the record, the 2.5 PI was the first British saloon car with fuel injection, but it was not the first. Mercedes-Benz, Chevrolet, and Pontiac all offered mechanical injection well before Standard-Triumph did. That’s no aspersion on the Triumph, of course — many automotive things go back much further than one would expect!

      1. A timely reminder. All too often the American car industry does not get the credit it deserves. Only months ago I had to correct
        an Australian article that claimed BMW were the first with a production turbo.
        And thank you yet again for an entertaining & informative article,

  21. I was under the impression the Twin Carb version was first done here in New Zealand at the Nelson assembly plant due to the unreliability and expense of fixing the Lucas injection system.
    And kiwis loathe being told they can’t fix something, and have to shell out heaps for imported parts instead!
    The twin SUs needed setting up too. A friend’s father had. 2.5 TC. The garage couldn’t balance the carbs well, so he got a Haynes Manual and decided to do it himself. Each Saturday morning he tinkered and after a few weeks it ran well. Then he left it. A year or so later he tuned it again, with the inevitable few weeks of rough running.
    Thereafter he spent 20 minutes EVERY Saturday morning tuning the car, as much to keep himself in tune in doing it as the car. Thereafter he was in demand to tune a ll the twin SU stuff, MG, Triumph and more!

  22. Again thank you for such an interesting article.
    The numerous and interesting replies are a testament to Brtish car, and considerable Triumph sedan passion.
    I’m struck by that Cupid arrow too, and as for many, Dad’s to blame
    In my case he bought 2nd hand a Mk1 2000 with bog standard everything as he was climbing the food chain, and I suppose wanted the comfort, as well as the symbol probably. I never asked him and can’t now.
    As a long haired teenager, he gave me the choice of working to get money and pay for lessons, or drive with him every day for a year.
    Lazier than him I suppose, and thrilled with idea of impressing my my mates as I arrived at six form college, I chose latter option. It was the best school with rush hour traffic every morning and night, there must have been a lot of gear changing and clutch control learned then. Frankly I don’t remember any of that, I do remember being in a dream as we floated twards my driving test.
    Lessons were obligatory, and thanks to Jeff Torr for telling me to push the accelerator on his 1600E as he taught me the fundamentals, the license came first time.
    Dad’s patience ruined me.
    After a year driving with him, the legacy of 6cyl smoothness means I can’t drive any less.
    It’s that laziness again.
    I mean driving around all day in 3rd and 4th, well it’s not everybody’s idea of driving, but it became mine.
    Today I drive a 22yr old 325i, and a joy.
    But it’s not British.
    Even though I’ve been surrounded by French and Italian tin for the last 32yrs, smitten all those years ago, has led me to acquire a 1972 mk2 2.5pi
    Dunno if there’s many easy ways to find parts in this area of France where I live. I’ll raid what I cna find since its been off the road since 1992!!
    This one was first registered in November 72, so I am guessing it has the hotter cam. Is there a register to determine that?
    Does anyone know if the roll fitted to the later “S” is bolt on?
    Are the Bosch replacement pumps freely available?
    We’re options bundled?
    I have yet to collect the car I’ve purchased, which does have leather and overdrive, dunno if those came bundled with power steering or all were separate options.

    Thanks for keeping the Triumph flag flying. I don’t compare, I enjoy each, they’re landmarks in our British car heritage, all have their place, but the big T sedan was technically the first car I drove and no one ever cut that umbilical.

    1. Ian,

      I’m afraid I don’t have answers for most of your questions. I can’t comment on replacement parts (I really don’t track that sort of thing and I’m no mechanic, so I’m the wrong one to ask about fixing things). Regarding the cam, that could be very tricky to verify for certain short of actually pulling the camshaft and checking its markings, particularly since it sounds like your car would be an early 1973 model year example. In the pre-smog era, it was not uncommon for cars built around a changeover point to end up as “mules” of sorts, if only to use up stocks, and there’s always the chance a previous owner made their own substitution.

      Regarding the options, that’s difficult to answer with any confidence. On Mk2 cars, real leather was definitely separate (as vinyl upholstery was standard and some 2.5 PIs had cloth seats). I’ve never seen anything suggesting power steering had to be ordered with overdrive, but new car order forms follow their own logic entirely and if someone said, “Well, when I bought mine new, the salesman said they couldn’t be ordered separately, even though there was a separate charge for each,” I would be inclined to take their word. Also, option-bundling has always been a popular merchandising strategy, so even if the factory didn’t offer any bundles, I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised to see an individual dealer doing so as a local promotion. (Things like that are terribly difficult to track decades later!)

    2. Check your engine number for knowing if yours is the hot cam version. The change was about August 1972 manufacture date, not registration date. See the Triumph 2000 register website for details. There are other French registered PI’s there, so you are not alone. The S anti roll bar makes a huge difference and is bolt on. It’s brackets are welded to the engine mount crossmember. You will also need the drag links with the anti roll bar brackets welded on (or find Stag ones)and drop links. Ken Mills (search KMI) in the UK do a very acceptable rebuilt Lucas pump so no need with a Bosch one. For parts search Chris Witor and join the 2000 Register. You can’t go wrong

      1. Thanks for the info, Graham!

  23. in my opinion the styling of the triumph 2500 is the best of all time even if the car is a bit too big

  24. I don’t agree with Bruce Armstrong. I think it was to older conservative types that went for the Rover, and the younger trendy type the Triumph. Who would have 4 cylinder 2 litre when you could have that sweet straight 6?
    In the summer of ’76 I was lucky enough to own a white 1969 MKI 2.5Pi, with a full length ‘Webasto’ sunshine roof. A/C was rare then and only available on really expensive cars. 1976 was a HOT summer in the UK! I’d had a few Triumph 2000s but this was the best, the ultimate. I used to convert the awful throttle linkage with 3/16″ ball joints. I then turned eccentric washers so I could get it EXACTLY right. Always ran sweet. I do remember the pump in the boot running very hot and doing some sort of a mod to it to prevent it cutting out. Cannot remember what though!

    1. My understanding has always been that the clientele for both cars was really fairly similar. The Rover P6 appealed to a younger and less reactionary set than traditional Rovers (something that made the Rover sales organization nervous at launch), and I think it’s reasonable to say the sort of customer who’d buy a P6 3500 was not the same as the sort who bought the P5 3½ Litre. I suppose there were probably some former P4 owners who bought P6s, but it was a pretty big departure.

      With close rivals like these (or Ford and Chevrolet, or any two football teams you want to mention), there are inevitably folks with strong feelings in one direction or another, based on personal experience, brand loyalty, and so forth, and it can be difficult to separate those reactions from the demographics.

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