Class Acts, Part 1: The Triumph 2000 and 2.5 PI Mk 1

Although the Triumph 2000 made little impression on American buyers, it was a very significant car for the British market, the first salvo in a bitter war between traditional big sedans and upscale “premium” offerings that still rages today. In this installment of Ate Up With Motor, we look at the origins of the 2000 Mk 1, its links to its Rover P6 arch-rival, and the first 2.5 PI.

1967 Triumph 2000 nose lettering © 2013 Aaron Severson

FROM VANGUARD TO ZEBU

If we discount both the cheapest and most expensive ends of the market, much of the automotive business has long been engaged in a perpetual tug of war between status and value for money. Prestige brands routinely court middle-class buyers with smaller, cheaper models while bread-and-butter automakers try to claim a chunk of the luxury market by offering greater size or more features for less cash. The reasoning is not hard to understand: Luxury and status command higher prices while increased sales volume usually translates into lower unit costs and higher profits. If you can strike the right balance between those factors, you can carve out a lucrative niche.

These were the sort of considerations on the minds of the directors of the Standard Motor Company in the mid-1950s. At that time, the company had a solid middle-class product in the form of the Vanguard, which had a storied name borrowed (with the permission of the War Ministry and the Admiralty) from a long line of distinguished Royal Navy vessels, but was otherwise a quite ordinary mid-price sedan with a big 2,088 cc (128 cu. in.) four shared with contemporary Ferguson tractors and of course the Triumph TR2/TR3 sports cars. By American standards, the Vanguard was rather small, but to Britons, it was a midsize family car, competing with rivals like the Austin A90/A95 Westminster, Vauxhall Velox/Cresta, and Ford Zephyr. The Vanguard was in no way remarkable, but it sold in respectable numbers.

1950 Standard Vanguard front 3q © 2012 Sicnag (CC BY 2.0 Generic - modified by Aaron Severson)
The early (“Phase One”) Vanguard sedan, launched in 1947, was 164 inches (4,165 mm) long and 69 inches (1,753 mm) wide on a 94-inch (2,388mm) wheelbase, weighing around 2,900 lb (1,320 kg) at the curb. Its 2,088 cc (127 cu. in.) wet-sleeve four-cylinder engine made 68 hp (51 kW), which Standard claimed was good for a top speed of 80 mph (129 km/h). (Photo: “Standard Vanguard Phase 1 Saloon” © 2012 Sicnag; resized and modified 2013 by Aaron Severson and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license with modifications offered under the same license)

The dilemma for Standard was that it was a medium-size company grappling with giants. Ford and Vauxhall were subsidiaries of two of the world’s largest automakers. Hillman, Sunbeam-Talbot, Humber, and Singer were all owned by the Rootes Group and in 1952, Austin Motors had merged with its longtime rival the Nuffield Organization to form the enormous British Motor Corporation (BMC). While Standard could to some extent fall back on its tractor business, matching its rivals’ economies of scale was a much more difficult proposition, complicated by the fact that BMC was busily snatching up suppliers like Fisher & Ludlow, which provided bodies for Standard’s smaller 8 and 10. Standard’s new managing director, Alick Dick, who had replaced the autocratic Sir John Black in early 1954, was already shopping around for merger partners, but to survive over the long term, Standard would need to rethink its product strategy.

It was perhaps for that reason that when planning began in 1957 for a Vanguard successor, codenamed Zebu, engineering director Harry Webster began exploring directions considerably more adventurous than the Vanguard, including front-wheel drive, independent rear suspension, and a rear transaxle. Some of these ideas may have been prompted at least in part by the latest developments from Citroën and Lancia, but such plans suggested that Standard was already envisioning Zebu as a more sophisticated and probably more expensive car than the Vanguard.

Curiously, Standard originally planned to retain a separate chassis rather than adopting unitized construction. (The company took the same approach with the smaller “Zobo,” which became the Triumph Herald.) Webster later insisted that maintaining body-on-frame construction was to facilitate CKD assembly for export markets, but it’s hard to believe the growing uncertainty over body suppliers didn’t have something to do with it; BMC’s Sir Leonard Lord had already rebuffed Alick Dick’s proposal to have Fisher & Ludlow produce the Zobo’s body shell.

The idea of making Zebu front-wheel drive was discarded early on (although Standard would later return to FWD for smaller cars) and the transaxle was dropped when it proved to have insuperable vibration problems, but independent rear suspension was retained, probably as much for the sake of ride comfort as handling. The engine, meanwhile, was to be a new OHV six derived from the four-cylinder in the 8/10 and Zobo, which would be smaller but considerably smoother than the agricultural 2,088 cc (127 cu. in.) four.

As with the English Ford and Vauxhall products of the time, Zebu’s styling borrowed many elements from contemporary American design. Zebu was to be a pillarless four-door hardtop with reverse-slant sail panels reminiscent of some late-50s Mercurys and Lincolns, although the sloping nose smacked more of Citroën. Based on surviving photos, it was not an unattractive design, but it would probably have dated very quickly.

1963 Ford Consul Classic four-door sedan front 3q © 2011 Charles01 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)
This is not a Standard-Triumph product at all: It’s a 1963 Ford Consul Classic 109E. However, it looks considerably more like the aborted “Zebu” than the 2000 Standard-Triumph actually released. Unlike the Classic, the Zebu was envisioned as a pillarless four-door hardtop and had a different front-end treatment with single headlights in upright pods and a prominent bonnet scoop. We don’t know the Zebu’s precise dimensions, but they were probably similar to those of the Ford, which was 170.8 inches (4,337 mm) on a 99-inch (2,515mm) wheelbase. (Photo: “Ford Classic 2 door 23 Aug 1963 1498cc” © 2011 Charles01; resized and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license)

A ROVER RIVAL

Back in 1954, Standard had explored the possibility of a merger with Rover, whose managing director, Spencer Wilks, was Alick Dick’s brother-in-law. (Both were also related by marriage to Sir John Black, but that familiarity had merely strengthened Wilks’ reluctance to do business with Sir John.) While nothing had come of those negotiations, both companies recognized the advantages of such an alliance and launched a new round of talks in early 1959. These discussions were no more fruitful than the first, but the merger discussions did give each company a glimpse of the other’s upcoming product plans.

It was in this way that Standard learned that Rover was developing a sophisticated 2-liter sedan, codenamed P6, which was intended to shake off the staid “Auntie” image of Rover’s existing P4 line in hopes of attracting younger buyers. This paralleled Standard’s own goals, and knowledge of the Rover program would have a strong influence on Standard’s plans.

Another pivotal moment came during a visit to Standard’s offices in Banner Lane from automotive journalist Chris Jennings, then the editor of the British magazine The Motor. Upon seeing the Zebu prototype, Jennings warned Webster and Dick that the new Ford Anglia 105E, set to debut later that year, featured similar reverse-slant sail panels. Since the Anglia was Ford of Britain’s smallest and cheapest model, such a resemblance would obviously not do the Zebu any favors, so the revelation sent Standard back to the drawing board on a design that had been close to final.

1960 Ford Anglia front 3q © 2010 AlfvanBeem (PD - modified by Aaron Severson)
The car that scuttled the Zebu: Ford’s Anglia 105E, introduced at Earls Court in October 1959. The Anglia was Ford’s smallest European model, originally powered by a 997 cc (61 cu. in.) four. Visible in the right background is its eventual replacement, the Mk 1 Escort. (Photo: “Nationale oldtimerdag Zandvoort 2010, 1960 FORD 105E ANGLIA, AL-17-79 pic2” © 2010 AlfvanBeem; dedicated to the public domain by the photographer under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication, resized and modified 2013 by Aaron Severson)

In September, weeks after selling its tractor business and severing its relationship with the tractor manufacturer Massey-Harris-Ferguson (which had acquired Ferguson back in 1953), Standard became part of a new holding company called Standard-Triumph International. The name reflected the board’s acknowledgment that the Standard marque was nearing the end of its usefulness: Standard’s cars were increasingly seen as dowdy and dated and in the automotive lexicon, “standard” was more commonly used as an adjective than a noun. Future development would therefore center on the Triumph brand, which Standard had owned since late 1944. Triumph had originally been a relatively upmarket brand and the name had more pizazz than Standard, undoubtedly enhanced by the popularity of the TR3 sports car.

LEYLAND, BARB, AND MICHELOTTI

As we’ve previously discussed, Standard-Triumph’s fortunes soured abruptly in 1960, the result of a sudden downward turn of the market just as the company had sunk most of its ready cash into an ambitious consolidation and expansion plan. Standard-Triumph soon found itself in a hole from which it extricated itself only through a merger late in the year with the truck manufacturer Leyland Motors.

The Zebu was already floundering as Standard struggled to find a new styling idiom and the financial crisis put the project on the shelf. In the interim, however, Zebu’s intended engine was installed in a new Vanguard Six.

1963 Standard Vanguard Six front 3q © 2011 Graham Robertson (CC BY 2.0 Generic - modified by Aaron Severson)
The Vanguard Six was similar to its Triumph 2000 successor in overall size — the Vanguard was fractionally shorter on a 4-inch (102mm) shorter wheelbase, but 2.5 inches (64 mm) wider and somewhat taller — but not in price or performance. In the Vanguard, the 1,998 cc (122 cu. in.) six made a modest 80 hp (60 kW), good for perhaps 85 mph (137 km/h). A Vanguard Six sedan cost £871 (about $2,435) with purchase tax, considerably less than the later Triumph. (Photo: “Standard Vanguard Six” © 2011 Graham Robertson; resized and modified 2014 by Aaron Severson and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license with modifications offered under the same license)

Standard-Triumph revived the Zebu project in the spring of 1961, following the Leyland merger, but decided to scrap the previous designs and start over. The project received a new codename — Barb — and Standard commissioned new styling proposals from in-house design chief Les Moore and Turinese freelancer Giovanni Michelotti, who had already designed the Herald and the new TR4.

Barb’s development was on a very tight timetable. New engine or not, the Vanguard was clearly on borrowed time and Standard-Triumph wanted Barb ready by October 1963, which, as they were almost certainly aware, was when Rover planned to launch the P6. This left only a narrow window to create a clean-sheet design, but Les Moore understood the urgency and Michelotti was accustomed to working extraordinarily quickly (his design for the Zobo/Herald had been completed in less than 24 hours). Both proposals were ready by the fall of 1961. Of the two, the board preferred Michelotti’s, which Moore and Arthur Ballard, the chief body engineer, refined for production.

1,998cc six-cylinder engine in a 1964 Triumph 2000 © 2010 Martin Pettitt (CC BY 2.0 Generic - modified by Aaron Severson)
The 1,998 cc (122 cu. in.) six in a 1964 Triumph 2000. Based on Standard’s small four of the mid-fifties, the six was not an especially modern or high-revving design, with pushrod-operated overhead valves, undersquare dimensions — bore was 74.7 mm (2.94 inches) and stroke was 76.0 mm (2.99 inches) — and four main bearings rather than seven. However, the six was smooth and relatively quiet as long as you didn’t thrash it. (Photo: “Classic & Sports Cars By The Lake 12-9-2010 (Triumph, 2000, Mk1, Saloon, 1964)” © 2010 Martin Pettitt; resized and modified 2013 by Aaron Severson and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license with modifications offered under the same license)

Barb was not a copy of the P6; although the two cars were similar in size (the Triumph rode a longer wheelbase, but the Rover was longer and wider overall), from a technical standpoint they were very different. However, the Rover probably served to codify Standard-Triumph’s thinking about how Barb should be positioned, including its level of interior trim and standard engine. Originally, in what appears to be a bet-hedging move, Barb’s base engine was to be the smaller 1,596 cc (97 cu. in.) six used in the Herald-based Triumph Vitesse, but fairly late in the game Standard-Triumph opted to make the 1,998 cc (122 cu. in.) six the sole engine. It was just as well; aside from the desire to achieve parity with the 1,978 cc (121 cu. in.) Rover, the 1.6-liter six was little cheaper to make than the 2-liter and had only 70 horsepower (52 kW), so it was attractive from neither a cost nor a performance standpoint.

For Barb, the 2-liter six got a new cylinder head with revised combustion chambers and a slightly higher 8.5:1 compression ratio (raised in 1964 to 9.0:1), a new intake manifold, and a pair of Triumph-designed Zenith Stromberg 150 CD side-draft carburetors, all of which brought output to 90 net horsepower (67 kW) and 117 lb-ft (159 N-m) of torque. The engine was tipped 10 degrees to the right to clear the sloping hood and linked to a four-speed all-synchro gearbox, basically the TR4 transmission with slightly shorter indirect ratios. Laycock de Normanville overdrive would be optional, as would a three-speed automatic.

1963 Triumph Vitesse saloon front 3q © 2011 Charles01 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)
In 1,596 cc form, the Triumph straight six was smoother than contemporary fours of similar displacement, but no more powerful, making just 70 net horsepower (52 kW) (albeit with a more encouraging 110 lb-ft (149 N-m) of torque). Even the compact Vitesse — essentially a six-cylinder Herald — needed more than 15 seconds to reach 60 mph (97 km/h) and had a top speed of perhaps 90 mph (145 km/h), so the same engine in the 500 lb (227 kg) heavier Barb would undoubtedly have produced anemic performance. (Photo: “Triumph Vitesse 1600 July1963 1596cc” © 2011 Charles01; resized and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license)

In technical specification, the biggest change from Zebu to Barb was the adoption of monocoque construction, with body shells produced by Pressed Steel Ltd. at its plant in Swindon. All-independent suspension was retained, with MacPherson struts in front and semi-trailing arms on coil springs in back, both mounted on rubber-isolated subframes. No anti-roll bars were fitted and spring rates were relatively low, although damping was fairly firm to maintain body control. Steering was rack and pinion and disc brakes were fitted at the front.

By the time Barb began pilot production, the last Standard passenger cars were gone — the final production car, a four-cylinder Ensign, had come off the line earlier that year — and with them most of the familiar model names. The new model would be called simply Triumph 2000, a designation last used in 1949 for the Vanguard-engined versions of the postwar 1800 roadster and saloon.

1963 Standard Ensign estate front 3q © 2011 Charles01 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)
Although the Vanguard got a six-cylinder engine in late 1960, the Ensign, introduced in 1957, retained the wet-sleeve four. Late cars had the same 2,138 cc (130 cu. in.) displacement as the Triumph TR4, albeit in a much milder state of tune. (Photo: “Standard Ensign estate February 1963 2138cc” © 2011 Charles01; resized and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license)

THE TRIUMPH 2000 DEBUTS

The debut of the 2000 in October 1963 returned Triumph to territory into which it hadn’t ventured in nearly a decade. Triumph had the Herald and Vitesse, of course, and prior to the launch of the Herald some markets had received a Triumph-badged version of the Standard 10, but Triumph’s last big sedan had been the Renown (née 2000), which expired in 1954.

1967 Triumph 2000 front 3q © 2013 Aaron Severson
The Triumph 2000 Mk 1, seen here in U.S.-spec LHD form, was 173.8 inches (4,413 mm) long, 65 inches (1,651 mm) wide, and 56 inches (1,422 mm) high on a 106-inch (2,694mm) wheelbase. Curb weight with a full tank of fuel was around 2,600 lb (1,180 kg), a bit heavier with overdrive or automatic. (author photo)

While the Triumph 2000 was about the same size as the Vanguard Six and used a similar engine, the new car was decidedly more upmarket. Basic price at launch was £905 (£1,094 2s 1d with purchase tax, about $3,065 at the contemporary exchange rate), about 25% more than the Vanguard, and that didn’t include overdrive, a highly desirable £54 7s 6d ($152) option for manual-shift cars. (The automatic added £95 5s., equivalent to about $265.) In compensation, the 2000 had much fresher styling than the old Vanguard and had a luxurious cabin with walnut trim, plush carpeting, and optional leather upholstery.

Naturally, the Triumph drove better than the elderly Vanguard as well. That admittedly wasn’t saying much, but the 2000 was solidly competent in most dynamic aspects. With the four-speed gearbox, 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) took around 14 seconds and the factory’s claimed top speed was a realistic 95 mph (153 km/h), not bad for a mid-sixties family car. Fast turns were accompanied by considerable body lean, but the 2000 gripped well (at least with the optional radial tires) and had no alarming habits other than the occasional tendency of the sliding halfshaft splines to bind under power. The brakes were good and the steering accurate if rather heavy at low speeds. The ride was excellent and interior noise was well suppressed, adding to the luxurious ambiance.

1967 Triumph 2000 seats © 2013 Aaron Severson
The Triumph 2000 had most of the luxuries buyers expected of a contemporary high-end British car, including genuine walnut paneling on the dash and doors. Upholstery was originally vinyl, with actual leather available at extra cost, but leather became standard for the 1967 model year along with better-contoured seats. (author photo)

The 2000’s price and appointments put it in an interesting position in the British marketplace. The Triumph cost about as much as traditional 2.5- and 3-liter sedans like the Austin A110 Westminster and Ford Zodiac, which were substantially bigger and had larger engines with more power. However, the 2000 felt both more upscale and more sophisticated than any of these cars. By comparison, the Austin felt cumbersome and a Zodiac or Cresta seemed plebeian; whatever the cylinder count, you were still driving a Ford or a Vauxhall, which had considerably less snob appeal than Triumph. A Mk 2 Jaguar could beat the Triumph on many of these points, but even the underpowered 2.4 cost hundreds more, as did foreign alternatives like the BMW Neue Klasse or the big Citroën, which in DW or DS form listed for a hefty £1,568 19s 7d (about $4,400) in the U.K.

British buyers who liked the idea of a medium-size, 2-liter luxury car really had only one direct alternative to the Triumph, that being of course the new Rover P6, also called 2000 in its initial 1,978 cc (121 cu. in.) four-cylinder form. Even factoring in its standard leather upholstery and radial tires, for which Triumph buyers paid extra, the Rover was the more expensive of the two, starting at £1,264 9s 7d (about $3,550) with tax. Still, in this class, the price difference between the two cars was probably not enough to discourage someone interested in these cars from considering the other.

1967 Triumph 2000 rear 3q © 2013 Aaron Severson
Unlike the Rover P6, which had a De Dion rear suspension, the Triumph had fully independent rear suspension with coil springs and large aluminum semi-trailing arms on a detachable subframe. That suspension was borrowed for the TR4A, TR5/TR250, and TR6, although for space reasons, the sports cars had lever-action shocks rather than the sedan’s tubular dampers. All production sedans and estates had front disc/rear drum brakes and all Mk 1s had 13-inch wheels, although some models had wider wheels and fatter tires. (author photo)

Despite their substantial technical differences, the Rover and the Triumph had very similar performance by most objective measurements. With the same power output as the Triumph, taller gearing, and some 235 lb (106 kg) more weight, the Rover lagged behind the Triumph by about a second to 60 mph (97 km/h), but had a higher top speed. The Triumph had the edge in rear seat room, but neither had a surplus of luggage space and there wasn’t much to choose between them in terms of fuel economy. Both offered a high standard of ride, handling, and overall refinement.

The main difference between the 2000s was one of personality. The Rover felt more overtly sporting, with crisper handling and stronger brakes while the Triumph lent itself more to unhurried cruising, abetted by a notably smoother engine than the slightly frenetic Rover four. Ironically, the Rover felt more like what one would have expected of a big Triumph and the Triumph’s relaxed character was closer to traditional expectations of Rover. Which you preferred was mostly a matter of taste and whether you considered the greater prestige of the Rover name to be worth the price premium.

1965 Rover 2000 front 3q © 2007 Rudolf Stricker (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)
The Rover 2000 looks similar to the Triumph, but the two are quite different mechanically: The Rover has unstressed exterior panels on a monocoque “base unit,” four-wheel disc brakes, De Dion rear suspension (with inboard brakes), and an unusual double wishbone front suspension with horizontally mounted coil springs. The early Rover P6 was 178.5 inches (4,534 mm) long and 66.5 inches (1,689 mm) wide — 4.8 inches (121 mm) longer and 1.5 inches (38 mm) wider than the Triumph — on a 103.4-inch (2,626mm) wheelbase (2.6 inches (66mm) shorter than the Triumph). (Photo: “Rover P6 front 20070831” © 2007 Rudolf Stricker; resized and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license)

THE 2-LITER TRIUMPHANT

Despite their prices and implied challenge to the existing size/price hierarchy, both the Triumph and Rover 2000s were immediate successes. Except for a few dozen early production cars released to favored customers, Triumph 2000 wasn’t really available until January 1964, but sold well thereafter. The Triumph generally outsold the Rover, but between them they were soon taking more than 80 percent of the U.K.’s 2-liter-and-above segment. It must be said that this was not a vast sum — combined Triumph/Rover 2000 production was something under 50,000 units a year — but sales were limited more by production capacity than demand. It was clear that Standard-Triumph and Rover had caught the opposition off-guard.

1967 Triumph 2000 front © 2013 Aaron Severson
Since the 2000’s power-to-weight ratio was unexceptional, best performance was obtained with the lighter sedan with four-speed and overdrive. With either automatic or the heavier estate body, reaching 60 mph (97 km/h) took more than 15 seconds. We’ve found no road tests of a 2000 estate with automatic, but we presume it would be the slowest of the bunch; we’d estimate closer to 17 seconds for the 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) sprint. Fuel economy for sedans with overdrive typically averaged between 19 to 25 miles per U.S. gallon (12.4 to 10.6 L/100 km) depending on conditions. Estates, automatics, or cars without overdrive were naturally somewhat thirstier. (author photo)

That fact was not lost on said opposition, which hastened to respond. In 1965, BMC contrived de-contented editions of its 3-liter sedans that undercut the luxury 2-liter cars in price. Later that year Ford of Britain essayed its own variation on the Rover/Triumph formula by installing the 1,996 cc (122 cu. in.) Essex V-4 in the Corsair GT. However, many of these early ripostes were either ill-considered or too little too late and had little effect on the popularity of the Rover and Triumph.

Triumph bolstered the 2000’s image by making the saloon the focus of the factory rally team, starting in 1964. The rally 2000s initially ran in Group 3, with bigger-than-stock wheels and brakes, various drivetrain changes, and race-tuned engines with three Weber carburetors. In that form, the six was good for about 150 hp (112 kW), although the hotter cam and additional carburetion took a serious toll on both flexibility and fuel economy. The works team got off to a disappointing start at the 1964 Spa-Sofia-Liège Rally that August, with all three cars DNF due to a structural failing in the rear floorpan, but that problem was soon resolved. In 1965, a 2000 modified to Group 2 specification (with standard brakes and a milder engine) took a class victory in the RAC Rally, while Jean-Jacques Thuner scored another class win at the Tulip Rally.

1967 Triumph 2000 rear © 2013 Aaron Severson
One of the shortcomings (literally) of the Mk 1 2000, at least in sedan form, was a shortage of cargo space. On early cars, this was exacerbated by the bulky spare, which sat more or less upright in the boot. In the fall of 1966, Standard-Triumph revised the rear floorpan to provide a well for the spare under the boot floor, allowing more of the available space to be used for cargo. (author photo)

Such achievements didn’t help the 2000 in the U.S., where the new car was a resounding flop. The 2000 made its Stateside debut at the New York Auto Show in April 1965, priced at $2,875 POE, but Triumph’s northeastern distributor, Genser-Forman (who had also opposed making the 2000’s independent rear suspension standard on North American TR4As), predicted glumly that the sedan wouldn’t sell at all. They turned out to be quite correct: The Baby Boomers who would later snap up compact imported cars like this were then still teenagers more interested in Supercars, while the Spitfire and TR4 buyers who kept U.S. Triumph dealers in business were not shopping for four-door sedans. Compared to American compacts like the Plymouth Valiant or Ford Falcon, the 2000 was rather small and quite expensive, listing for more than $3,000 with automatic. The big sedan’s service record in the U.S. was not encouraging either. We have no figures for U.S. sales, which sputtered along into 1968, but we assume they fell somewhere between “bleak” and “dreary.”

The 2000 did better in other export markets, with CKD assembly in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and several other countries. In all, the addition of the 2000 improved Standard-Triumph’s total sales by about 20% to a healthy 120,000 or so units for both the 1964 and 1965 model years, the company’s best since before 1960’s financial crisis.

1967 Triumph 2000 dashboard © 2013 Aaron Severson
This is a U.S.-spec 1967 Triumph 2000 sedan, but it retains the original dashboard design. Given the very poor U.S. sales of this model, we wouldn’t be surprised if some ’67s were actually re-serialed ’66 leftovers. Note the black-on-white instrument faces and the lack of center dash vents. (The instrument to the immediate left of the steering wheel is an aftermarket oil pressure gauge.) Not visible at this angle is another much-criticized feature of the Mk 1: the organ pedal throttle, which required an uncomfortable amount of ankle motion and contrasted oddly with the conventionally suspended brake and clutch pedals. (author photo)

2000 ESTATE

With the 2000 doing very well, Standard-Triumph soon gave thought to expanding the range. One strong possibility was the 2000GT, a peculiar-looking five-door fastback that would have used an hotter version of the 1,998 cc (122 cu. in.) six with about 115 hp (86 kW); this engine would have also been offered on the sedan as a new 2000TS model. The other possibility was an estate, something that Rover didn’t offer on the P6.

Even with Leyland’s backing, Standard-Triumph’s resources were not unlimited and the company couldn’t easily afford both the estate and the GT. The latter was abandoned because the estate seemed the more salable proposition, although Pressed Steel’s tooling estimate was so exorbitant that Standard-Triumph decided to simply send completed sedan bodies to Coventry’s Carbodies Ltd. for conversion.

1967 Triumph 2000 auto shifter © 2013 Aaron Severson
The Triumph 2000’s optional automatic was the ubiquitous British-made Borg-Warner 35, a three-speed torque converter transmission. Although the automatic could not be combined with the Laycock de Normanville overdrive, automatic cars had a taller 3.70 axle ratio, sacrificing some pickup for more relaxed cruising (the standard 4.10 axle gave fewer than 17 mph/1,000 rpm in top, which is why period testers inevitably recommended overdrive). 1967 models received a part-throttle kickdown feature and a new shift pattern allowing manual selection of second. This car doesn’t have it, again suggesting this may have been a ’66 leftover reserialed as a 1967 car. (author photo)

The 2000 estate, introduced in October 1965 as a 1966 model, did answer complaints about the sedan’s mediocre luggage space, but was not otherwise a notably practical choice. An extra 135 lb (61 kg) eroded acceleration and fuel economy, while a smaller fuel tank further reduced driving range. The rear seat folded to expand the load floor, but the rear wheel arches cut into the available width and the cargo area was really too nicely trimmed for hauling sod or lumber. On top of that, the estate cost about £250 (including purchase tax) more than the sedan. The estate was catalogued for the rest of the model run, but sales were always modest.

1969 Triumph 2.5 PI interior © 2012 Akela NDE (CC BY-SA 2.0 France)
This is a 1969 Triumph 2.5 PI sedan (with LHD), but the revised interior was common to 1967–69 2000s. The big changes, other than the adoption of standard leather upholstery and new seats, were the addition of the two vents in the center of the dash and the substitution of more legible white-on-black gauges for the original black-on-white instruments. Barely visible at this scale is the overdrive switch in the top of the shift lever. (Photo: “Triumph 2.5 PI Mk1 interior in Morges 2012” © 2012 Akela NDE; resized and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 France license)

Standard-Triumph briefly considered developing a convertible version of the 2000, but, as with the GT, decided that the drophead probably wouldn’t sell well enough to be worth the investment. However, Michelotti asked for a 2000 he could convert himself, intending to exhibit the results at the 1966 Turin Auto Show. This wasn’t intended as a production car, but Harry Webster was so taken with it that he convinced the board to acquire the design, which became the basis of the Triumph Stag.

All 2000s were upgraded for the 1967 model year with standard leather upholstery and a new dashboard with flow-through ventilation and face-level vents. The automatic was also revised to allow part-throttle kickdown and make it easier to manually hold the lower gears. The changes were worthwhile, but they weren’t free, bringing the sedan’s price to about £1,200 (about $3,360) and the estate to £1,456 (around $4,080). The price increases didn’t hurt 2000 sales, but did leave more room for rivals looking to chip away at the bottom end of the 2-liter market, including Vauxhall’s FD Victor 2000 and the new Ford Corsair 2000E, which were priced closer to the £1,000 ($2,800) mark.

1967 Ford Corsair 2000E front 3q © 2013 Iain Cameron (CC BY 2.0 Generic - modified by Aaron Severson)
Ford tried to carve out its own piece of the posh 2-liter market with the Corsair 2000E (for Executive). The Corsair was roughly the same size as the Rover P6 — the Ford was a bit longer overall on a shorter wheelbase and somewhat lighter — and was powered by a 1,996 cc (122 cu. in.) Essex V-4 with 97 hp (72 kW). The Ford was well-equipped, notably quicker than either the Triumph 2000 or Rover 2000SC, and cheaper than either, at £1,039 tax paid (about $2,500). However, the Corsair couldn’t match the more expensive cars for ambiance or refinement. (Photo: “Ford Corsair” © 2013 Iain Cameron; resized and modified 2014 by Aaron Severson and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license with modifications offered under the same license)

A MERGER AND A V-8

In early 1967, there was a new and unexpected development in the rivalry between the Rover and Triumph 2000s: The two became corporate siblings. In late 1966, Standard-Triumph chairman Donald Stokes initiated yet another round of merger talks with Rover’s Sir George Farmer, leading to Leyland acquiring Rover in early 1967. The impetus for the merger was the latest developments at BMC, which had merged with Jaguar in mid-1966 after having acquired Pressed Steel the previous summer.

In the wake of the merger, Leyland planned to leave Triumph and Rover more or less alone, at least for the immediate future. Down the road, Leyland management envisioned rationalizing the conglomerate’s automotive offerings into a three-division structure, with Triumph taking the smaller and cheaper end of the market, Rover the upper-middle class, and Alvis (which Rover had acquired in 1965) the high end, but the implementation of those ideas was still some way off.

Shorter-term goals for the Triumph 2000 included more finding more power. The 2000TS had been shelved after the GT project was canceled, and while it would have been straightforward enough to give the sedan the higher-compression 1,998 cc (122 cu. in.) six from the latest Vitesse or GT6, which had 95 and later 104 hp (71 and 78 kW), Triumph appears to have made no move to do so. The problem was that the six’s basic architecture was already close to 15 years old and the usual performance tuning tricks (bigger valves, larger carburetors, hotter valve timing) did nothing for low-speed flexibility. What the 2000 really needed was more torque.

1974 Triumph Stag engine © 2011 The Car Spy (CC BY 2.0 Generic)
Standard-Triumph originally intended to use the new SOHC V-8, seen here in a 1974 Mk 2 Stag, in the big sedan and estate to compete with the Rover 3500. For various reasons, that never happened; discounting Stag development mules, only one V-8 sedan was actually built for the use of Triumph’s sales director. As actually installed in the Stag, the V-8 displaced 2,997 cc (183 cu. in.) rather than 2.5 liters (152 cu. in.) and traded the planned Lucas injection system for twin Zenith-Stromberg carburetors much like those of the U.S. Triumph TR250 and TR6 (and selected for much the same reason: easier compliance with federal emissions standards). (Photo: “1974 Triumph Stag” © 2011 The Car Spy; used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)

The plan at this stage was for the 2000 to eventually receive the new OHC V-8 then under development for the Stag, which was originally slated for a 1968 introduction. Closely related to the slant four Triumph would shortly supply to Saab (and later use in its own products, including the Dolomite), the V-8 then displaced about 2.5 liters (152 cu. in.) and made around 120 hp (90 kW). However, Leyland preferred to introduce the V-8 on the Stag — which among other things would provide useful real-world service experience before putting the new engine into a volume product — and its development was already lagging.

We don’t know if there was any serious discussion of installing Rover’s new ex-Buick aluminum V-8, although we doubt it would have been practical to do so. Rover didn’t have unlimited capacity and already planned to use the V-8 in the P5 (3-Litre) and P6, as well as the forthcoming Range Rover and the flagship P8 sedan (although the latter was canceled in 1971). Furthermore, Leyland management was not keen to abandon the investment it had already made in the Triumph V-8. In the meantime, though, they needed an interim solution.

PETROL INJECTION

Standard-Triumph had dropped out of rally competition in 1966, but planned to return for the 1967 RAC Rally with a 2000 powered by the new 2,498 cc (152 cu. in.) six from the TR5 PI. As we discussed in our article on the TR5 and TR6, the big six was a development of the 1,998 cc (122 cu. in.) engine with a redesigned block that allowed the stroke to be increased from 76 to 95 mm (2.99 to 3.74 in.). Adding to this the new Lucas Mk 2 mechanical fuel injection system gave 142 net horsepower (106 kW) and a very healthy infusion of torque. The RAC Rally was canceled at the last minute, but Triumph allowed the press to drive the rally car, which was enthusiastically received.

1969 Triumph 2.5 PI engine © 2012 Akela NDE (CC BY-SA 2.0 France)
The 2.5 PI engine is immediately distinguishable by the long intake runners of the Lucas Mk 2 injection system. The Mk 2 was a multiport mechanical system with a separate injector for each cylinder and a complex vacuum-controlled metering unit. (The Mk 1 system used for years in racing had a simpler metering system with fuel delivery controlled by a cam operated by the throttle linkage.) Although the version of the injected engine used in sedans and estates had a milder cam profile than the engines of the TR5 PI and early TR6 PI sports cars, the idle was still rortier than some owners liked, so later Mk 2 2.5 PIs substituted an even milder cam. (Photo: “Triumph 2.5 PI Mk1 1969 in Morges 2012 – Engine” © 2012 © 2012 Akela NDE; resized and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 France license)

That reaction convinced Standard-Triumph to offer a production version of the injected car, which bowed in the fall of 1968, dubbed 2.5 PI (although the badges read “2500 Injection”). For the sedan, the injected engine received a new camshaft that trimmed peak power to 132 net horsepower (98 kW), but provided 153 lb-ft (207 N-m) of torque at only 2,000 rpm. To take advantage of the engine’s torque characteristics, the 2.5 PI also borrowed the taller 3.45 axle from the TR5. Wider 185SR-13 radial tires were specified, albeit on the standard 4.5×13 rims, and an alternator replaced the generator to better cope with the requirements of the injection system’s high-pressure fuel pump. Because there was still no tachometer, injected cars were fitted with a 5,800-rpm ignition cutout to prevent over-revving.

The 2.5 PI was expensive, starting at £1,133 (£1,487 19s 9d with tax, around $3,570) without overdrive — over £200 ($480) more than the still-available 2000 — but provided much stronger performance. Despite a taller axle ratio, a four-speed 2.5 PI sedan was capable of 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) in a fraction over 10 seconds, while top speed approached 110 mph (176 km/h). That was almost as quick (albeit not as fast all out) as the new and significantly more expensive Rover 3500 and decidedly quicker than a Rover 2000TC, which actually cost a bit more than a 2.5 PI with overdrive.

1969 Triumph 2.5 PI front 3q © 2014 Andy Reeve-Smith (used with permission)
The Lucas-injected Triumph 2.5 PI was a good deal more expensive than a 2000, but the extra power was enough to trim about 4 seconds off 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) acceleration times and added at least 15 mph (24 km/h) to top speed at little penalty in fuel consumption. (Photo: “Triumph 2500PI – PKV 390G” © 2014 Andy Reeve-Smith; used with permission)

The news wasn’t all good. The 2.5 PI engine was noisy when pressed and the injection system had various unhappy quirks, including the constant drone of the pump and a tendency to stall in turns if the fuel level fell too low. The fuel pump was prone to overheating, which would cause vapor lock, and the system needed regular fuel filter changes for good health. It was also important to remember that the fuel pump was running any time the ignition was switched on and if you weren’t careful you could flood the engine or create an engine compartment fire hazard. Moreover, if you had trouble with the metering unit, you were probably looking at an expensive replacement. The factory service manual sternly warned against tampering with the unit’s diaphragm springs, which required very fine tolerances beyond the skill level of most technicians.

Despite these flaws and the relatively high price, the 2.5 PI was very well-received. It was the first British production sedan with petrol injection (although not the first British production car, that honor having gone to the TR5 a year earlier) and provided performance comparable to quite a few contemporary sports cars. As a result, the 2.5 PI sold quite well, accounting for more than 9,000 units in its first year. The large majority of these were sedans; although the injected engine was also available on the estate, the added cost of the latter was probably prohibitive for many buyers. The 2.5 PI brought total Mk 1 production to 113,157 units, a very respectable figure for a manufacturer Standard-Triumph’s size.

In part two of this story, we’ll look at the later history of these cars, including the Mk 2 and the 2000’s planned and actual successors.

# # #

NOTES ON SOURCES

Our sources on the development of the big Triumph sedans and their Rover P6 rival included “A Brilliant Triumph,” Wheels July 1964, reprinted in Triumph 2000 – 2.5 – 2500 1963-1977, ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books, 1984): 16–19; Keith Adams, “The cars; Triumph 2000/2500 development history” and “The cars: Rover SD1 development history,” AROnline, 11 September 2011, www.aronline. co.uk, accessed 19 June 2013; “Autotest: Rover 2600,” Autocar 22 October 1977: 54–58; “Autotest: Triumph 2000 Mk 2 (1,998 c.c.),” Autocar 16 October 1969: 132–135; “Autotest: Triumph 2.5 PI Mk 2,” Autocar 17 February 1972: 8–12; “Autotest: Triumph 2500S 2,498 c.c.,” Autocar 5 July 1975: 25–29; “Autocar Road Test No. 1944: Rover 2000,” Autocar 11 October 1963, reprinted in Rover 2000/2200, ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 1983): 10–15; “Autocar Road Test No. 1956: Triumph 2000 1,998 c.c.,” Autocar 10 January 1964: 66–70; “Autocar Road Test No. 2045: Triumph Vitesse Convertible 1,596 c.c.,” Autocar 17 September 1965: 535–540; “Autocar Road Test No. 2106: Triumph Estate Car 1,998 c.c.,” Autocar 18 November 1966, reprinted in Triumph 2000 – 2.5 – 2500 1963-1977: 28–33; “Autotest No. 2224: Triumph 2.5 PI (2,489 c.c.) [sic],” Autocar 6 February 1969, reprinted in ibid: 44–49; “Beefy commuter with few faults (12,000 mile staff car report),” Motor 14 November 1970, reprinted in ibid: 60–64; John Bolster, “Britain’s best medium-sized car,” Autosport 8 January 1970, reprinted in ibid: 58–59; Paul Bridger, “The Rover SD1 Story,” n.d., homepage.ntlworld. com/ william.whittaker1 /cache_sd1_story/ sd1story.htm, accessed 22 June 2013, and “The Rover Six Cylinder SD1 Story,” n.d., homepage.ntlworld. com/ william.whittaker1/ cache_sd1_story/ 2300_2600story.htm, 22 June 2013; Charles Bulmer, “Rover v. Triumph,” Motor 18 December 1965: 26–27; “Buying Secondhand: Triumph 2000,” Autocar 24 August 1974, reprinted in Triumph 2000 – 2.5 – 2500 1963-1977: 88–90; Wayne Cantell, “Triumph 2500 TC — injection beater?” Modern Motor June 1973, reprinted in ibid: 74–78; Michael Cook, Triumph Cars in America (St. Paul, MN: MBI Publishing Co., 2001); Barry Cooke, “Two-Pedal Triumph,” Modern Motor March 1965, reprinted in Triumph 2000 – 2.5 – 2500 1963-1977: 20–21; Mike Covello, Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946-2002, Second edition (Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2001); C.R., “The New Rover 3500,” Motor Sport July 1976; Edward Eves, “Four Wheels for Snow,” Autocar 1 March 1973, reprinted in Triumph 2000 – 2.5 – 2500 1963-1977: 72–73, and “Taking Stock No. 22: What it means to own a Triumph 2.5 PI Estate car,” Autocar 13 July 1972, reprinted in ibid: 70–71; “Giant Test,” CAR April 1971, reprinted in ibid: 66–69, 79; “Giant Test: Consul 2500 Estate, Triumph 2000 Estate, Vauxhall Ventora Estate,” CAR January 1974: 58–65; “Giant Test: Triumph 2.5PI v. Rover 2000TC: The Battle Hots Up,” CAR January 1969: 42–59, reprinted in Rover 2000/2200: 68–73; “Giant Test: Triumph 2000 II/Vauxhall VX 4/90,” CAR January 1970: 68–73; Harold Hastings, “A new kind of Roving,” Motor 20 April 1968: ii–iv, 69–70; “The Triumph 2000 automatic: 24,000 mile staff report,” Motor 5 August 1967, reprinted in Triumph 2000 – 2.5 – 2500 1963-1977: 34–37; Geoffrey Howard, Dave Thomas, “2-Car Test: Rover 3500S, Triumph 2.5 PI,” Autocar 5 October 1972: 36–41; “It’s the little things that make it Truly a Triumph,” Wheels September 1968, reprinted in Triumph 2000 – 2.5 – 2500 1963-1977: 40–43; David Knowles, MG: The Untold Story (Osceola, WI: Motorbooks International, 1997); Egil Kvaleberg, “Lucas Petrol Injection,” 2000, t2000.kvaleberg. org/ t_pi.html, accessed 7 June 2013; Jonathan Lewis, “The Triumph 2000 Story – Conquest and Consolidation 1963-1969,” “The Triumph 2000 Story – Gilding the Lily: The Mk 2 Models, 1969-1974,” “The Triumph 2000 Story — Joining the Power Elite: The 2.5PI,” “The Triumph 2000 Story – Origins and Development,” “The Triumph 2000 Story – The Big Triumphs in ‘Works’ Competition: 1964-1976,” and “The Triumph 2000 Story – The Final Years: ‘TC’ and ‘S’ Models, 1974-1977,” Triumph 2000 Register, 2010, triumph2000register. co.uk, accessed 10 June 2013; Annamaria Lösch, ed., World Cars 1979 (Rome: L’Editrice dell’Automobile LEA/New York: Herald Books, 1979); Raymond Mays, “Rover makes good,” Motoring Life #19 (1968), reprinted in Rover 2000/2200: 67+; F. Wilson McComb, MG by McComb, Second edition (Colchester, Essex: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1978); Productioncars.com, Book of Automobile Production and Sales Figures, 1945-2005 (N.p.: 2006); “Road Research Report: Triumph 2000,” Car and Driver Vol. 11, No. 5 (November 1965): 54–58, 114; “Road Test: Triumph 2500TC,” Motor 8 June 1974, reprinted in Triumph 2000 – 2.5 – 2500 1963-1977: 82–87; Graham Robson, The Rover Story, Fourth edition (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: Patrick Stephens Limited, 1988), and The Triumph TRs: A Collector’s Guide, Second edition (London: Motor Racing Publications Ltd., 1981); Graham Robson and Richard Langworth, Triumph Cars: The Complete Story, Second edition (Pitlake, Croydon: Motor Racing Publications Ltd., 1988); “Room for Two?” CAR February 1967, reprinted in Rover 2000/2200: 56–57; “Rover 2000,” Autocar 11 October 1963, reprinted ibid: 5–10; “Rover 2000TC versus Triumph 2.5 PI,” Motoring Life August 1969, reprinted in Triumph 2000 – 2.5 – 2500 1963-1977: 50, 65; “Seven Years Apart (Giant Test: Triumph Vitesse Mk 2/Ford Capri 1600GT),” CAR May 1969: 56–61; “Shaping up well (Motor Road Test No. 51/69: Triumph 2.5 PI Mk. II),” Motor 25 October 1969: 27–32; “So similar, but so different (What Car? Compares Vauxhall, Triumph, Chrysler: Big four-door saloons for around £2,800),” What Car? December 1975, reprinted in Triumph 2000 – 2.5 – 2500 1963-1977: 91–96; James Taylor, “High Hopes,” Thoroughbred & Classic Car February 1992: 74–80, and The Classic Rovers 1934-1977: A Collector’s Guide, 2nd printing (Pitlake, Croydon: Motor Racing Publications Ltd., 1989); Mike Taylor, “Stag at Bay: Part two — the making of a classic,” Sporting Cars June-July 1984: 51–55; “Technical Specifications,” Triumph 2000 Register, n.d., triumph2000register. co.uk, accessed 10 June 2013; “Triumph 2000,” Autocar 18 October 1963, reprinted in Triumph 2000 – 2.5 – 2500 1963-1977: 5–9; “Triumph 2000,” Road & Track Vol. 17, No. 2 (October 1965), reprinted in ibid: 22–25; “Triumph 2000 Extended Test,” Motor 14 March 1964, reprinted in ibid: 11–15, 57; “Triumph 2000 — Further Details,” Autocar 25 October 1963, reprinted in ibid: 10; “Used Car Test 275: Triumph 2000 (overdrive),” Autocar 28 December 1967, reprinted in ibid: 38–39; John Williams, “Practical Classics Buying Feature: Triumph 2000,” Practical Classics March 1982, reprinted in ibid: 97–100; and Rene Winters, “The World of the Rover SD1,” Dutch Rover Archives, June 2003, www.roversd1. nl/ sd1web/, last accessed 19 June 2013.

Additional information on the Triumph’s various rivals came from “Autocar Road Test No. 1870: Ford Zodiac Mark III 2,553cc,” Autocar 20 April 1962: 623–627; “Autocar Road Test No. 1874: Austin A.110 Westminster 2,912 c.c.,” Autocar 15 March 1963: 436–440; “Autocar Road Test No. 1917: Jaguar 3.8 Mark 2 Automatic 3,781 c.c.,” Autocar April 1963, reprinted in Jaguar Mk 2 1959-1969, ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 2000): 54–58; “Autocar Road Test No. 1982: Austin A.110 Westminster Mk. II 2,912 c.c.,” Autocar 10 July 1964: 72–76; “Autocar Road Test No. 2022: Ford Executive Zodiac 2,555 c.c.,” Autocar 9 April 1965: 713–718; “Autocar Road Test No. 2040: Ford Anglia 1200 Estate Car 1,198 c.c.,” Autocar 13 August 1965: 303–308; John Baker, “Austin A70 Hampshire,” “Austin A90,” “Austin A99 Westminster,” “Austin A105,” and “Austin A110/120 – 125/135,” Austin Memories, n.d., www.austinmemories. com, accessed 13 June 2013; William Boddy, “Jaguar 3.8 Mk. II: One of the Best Saloon Cars in the World,” Motor Sport September 1960, reprinted in Jaguar Mk 2 1959-1969: 30–31, and “The Latest Citroën DW,” Motor Sport March 1964, reprinted in Citroën DS & ID 1955-1975, ed. R.M. Clarke (Cobham, England: Brooklands Books Ltd., ca. 1988); “Executive’s bargain (Motor Road Test No. 11/67: Ford Corsair 2000E),” Motor 6 April 1967: 23–28; “Giant Test: Corsair 2000 E -v- Victor 2000,” CAR February 1968: 44–49; “Flexible five-seater (Motor Road Test No. 16/66: Ford Zodiac Mk. IV),” Motor 23 April 1966: 55–60; “Giant Test: Ford Zephyr V6/Vauxhall Cresta d/l,” CAR August 1966: 43–49; “Giant Test: 4 symbols of status,” CAR January 1967: 38–45; Peter Hall, “Charming Jaguar Cub,” Wheels March 1962, reprinted in Jaguar Mk 2 1959-1969: 48-51; Annamaria Lösch, ed., World Cars 1979 (Rome: L’Editrice dell’Automobile LEA/New York: Herald Books, 1979); “The Autocar Road Tests 1762: Jaguar 3.8 Mk 2 Overdrive,” The Autocar 26 February 1960, reprinted in ibid: 12–15; “The Jaguar 3.4-litre Mark 2,” The Motor 16 Aug. 1961, reprinted in ibid: 40–43; and “Z cars Mk IV,” Motor 23 April 1966: 47–54.

Some historical exchange rate data for the dollar and the British pound came from Lawrence H. Officer, “Exchange Rates Between the United States Dollar and Forty-one Currencies” (2011, MeasuringWorth, http://www.measuringworth.org/exchangeglobal/, used with permission). Exchange rate values cited in the text represent the approximate equivalency of British and U.S. currency at the time, not contemporary U.S. suggested retail prices. Please note that all equivalencies cited herein are approximate, provided for the reader’s general reference; this is an automotive history, not a treatise on currency trading or the value of money, and nothing in this article should be taken as financial advice of any kind!


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9 Comments

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  1. That rev limiter on the injected engine can be negated without much trouble and without that a Rover V8 can be easily outrun

  2. Wow, I can detect traces of each and every one of the many styling themes one got on an American Ford of the era crammed onto that tiny little car. There’s the proto Galaxie (the show car Galaxie, that is) roof. The surprised double headlights. The horizontal fin. The stars in the grill. Hysterical.

    1. What works on 18 feet land yachts never quite translates to smaller platforms- eg the Vauxhall Victor.

      Another fine, enlightening article too. Thank you for your efforts.

    2. The Zebu wasn’t quite that OTT, but it had its own oddities, like a split scoop at the leading edge of the bonnet. Take a mid-50s Mercury, add a sloping hood between the headlight pods, graft on the roofline from a ’63 or ’64 Breezeway four-door hardtop, reduce it to about three-fifths scale and you get a rough approximation. I think if Standard-Triumph had produced it that way, by 1964 it would have looked painfully old-fashioned, especially next to the Rover 2000.

  3. Thanks for yet another fascinating article.
    I know this is nitpicking, but “occasional tendency of the sliding driveshaft splines to bind under power” Don’t you mean halfshafts? TR4A, 5, 250 & 6 had a reputation for halfshafts binding under hard cornering and considering that the 2000 uses a similar IRS setup, would probably exhibit like behavior. It seems to me there’s a good reason other makers used rotoflex or CV joints back there instead of U-joints & splines. Also, since the diff is mounted to the body / chassis structure in an IRS, the driveshaft splines shouldn’t see much movement anyway.

    1. Oops, that should have been halfshafts; I fixed it in the text. Yes, the IRS TRs and 2000 had basically the same rear suspension (the big difference being that the TRs had lever-action shocks in back because there wasn’t room for tubular shock absorbers) and the same issue with the driveshaft splines and their tendency to bind, which on the sedans tended to happen if you jumped on and off the throttle suddenly (e.g., to make a quick shift).

      The reason the sliding splines were used was that the rear suspension geometry would allow the track width to change as the wheels went from full jounce to full rebound; the splines accommodated those track changes. I assume STI decided CV joints were too expensive. Interestingly, when Ford went to semi-trailing arm independent suspension on the Mk IV Zephyr in 1966, they were determined not to use splines and so concocted an odd little arrangement wherein the inner bearing closest to the differential would actually move on a little swing shackle instead.

  4. We are dealing with vocabulary differences here. in the UK, what they call the propeller shaft, or ‘propshaft’ is what we Americans call the driveshaft. What we Americans call a halfshaft is what the Brits call a driveshaft.

  5. The availability (or not)of the various driveshaft / halfshaft techniques and their manufacturing technologies has been a strong influence on car design, a study of it’s own even.
    I expect Triumph would have used C.V. joints if they had been available in the right size at the right price. From about the same date, the first Porsche 911s used what now seems an odd arrangement of Hooke joint + double Hooke joint as another solution to the same problem. Then there were Rotoflex and other fabric/rubber joints. None of these techniques are in common car use today.

  6. Good, interesting article.

    One little point; the engine was tilted at 7 degrees to avoid the dynamo touching the battery.

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