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

The Triumph 2000 was a hit, giving the Rover 2000 a run for its money and demonstrating that there was a lucrative market for affordable premium sedans. The Mk 2 edition, introduced in the fall of 1969, seemed set to continue that success, but with Triumph now part of the British Leyland Motor Corporation, the 2000’s future would soon be in doubt. In part 2 of our story, we look at the later history of the big Triumph 2000, 2.5 PI, and 2500TC/2500S sedans.

Triumph 2000 Mk 2 badge © 2013 Richard Wiseby (used with permission)
(Triumph 2000 Mk2 Photo © 2013 Richard Wiseby; used with permission)


In our first installment, we talked about the protracted development of the car that became the Triumph 2000 and the success the Mk 1 car found in the British marketplace. To understand all of what came next, it’s important to have at least a general understanding of the corporate machinations taking place during the same period. (Regular readers will probably already be familiar with this part of the story, but it bears recapping for those just joining us.)

As previously discussed, back in 1960, Standard-Triumph International had been acquired by Leyland Motors, a successful British truck and bus manufacturer. The new Leyland management, including Donald Stokes, who became Standard-Triumph’s managing director in 1963, brought a needed infusion of cash and financial rigor that soon restored Standard-Triumph to prosperity. In early 1967, Leyland also acquired the Rover Company, with which Standard had flirted on and off for the better part of 15 years, giving Leyland a solid minority share of the British car market. In the bargain, Leyland also picked up Alvis, a smaller maker of prestigious cars and less prestigious but profitable military vehicles that had merged with Rover in 1965.

1967 Triumph 2000 nose lettering © 2013 Aaron Severson
Triumph began building cars in 1923, but went into receivership in 1939. The Standard Motor Company bought the Triumph name and remaining assets in late 1944. In 1960, Standard was reorganized as Standard-Triumph International, which merged with Leyland Motors in December 1960. In 1968, Triumph became part of the new British Leyland Motor Corporation. Triumph’s place in the BLMC divisional hierarchy changed repeatedly between 1968 and 1984, when the marque ceased production for good. However, after 1968, Rover and Triumph were closely linked; the two formally merged in 1972. (author photo)

If that had been the end of Leyland’s merger spree, the future of Triumph (and for that matter Rover) might have been very different. However, there was a further merger in the works: The British government was pushing for a union between Leyland and the massive but ailing British Motor Corporation (BMC) — or, more properly, British Motor Holdings, a holding company created in 1966 by the merger of BMC and Jaguar. BMC (the BMH designation was a legal one and little-used outside formal business documents) encompassed many of the U.K.’s major automotive brands, including Austin, Morris, MG, Riley, and Wolseley, although the latter two were on their way out, having long since succumbed to badge-engineering expedience.

Despite its sizable market share, BMC was beset by serious financial problems and ongoing labor disputes, compounded by an aging product line that was too often flawed, dull, unprofitable, or some combination of the three. The Labour government of Prime Minister Harold Wilson was fearful that BMC would end up in receivership and/or become a satellite of some foreign company. The Rootes Group (encompassing Hillman, Humber, Singer, and Sunbeam-Talbot) was already being absorbed by Chrysler and the Wilson government had no desire to see Britain’s largest automaker end up as another subsidiary of one of the American giants. The government’s solution was to broker a marriage between BMH and Leyland, putting Leyland management in charge in the hopes that they could repeat Standard-Triumph’s revitalization on a much larger scale.

1973 Triumph Stag front 3q © 2010 Aaron Severson
Conceived prior to the British Leyland merger but not introduced until 1970, the Stag was intended as Triumph’s image leader. It was not a sports car, but a luxurious GT intended to compete with the likes of the Mercedes 280SL. The Stag was based on the 2000 (Michelotti’s original prototype was a converted Mk 1 sedan), but the facelifted Mk 2 sedans, introduced in early 1969, were styled to resemble the Stag, which was originally supposed to debut about a year and a half earlier than it actually did. (author photo)

The upshot of all this was the formation in May 1968 of the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC), with Donald Stokes (shortly to become Lord Stokes, a life peer) as its chairman. One of Stokes’ early decisions was to send Triumph’s technical director, Harry Webster, to Austin Morris to replace Alec Issigonis (designer of the Mini) and sort out the mess of BMC’s product plans. To take Webster’s place at Triumph, Spencer King was transferred from Rover, where he’d been involved in the development of Rover’s P6, the Triumph 2000’s arch-rival in the prestige 2-liter market.

Even before the formation of BLMC, Leyland had envisioned a unified, multi-brand lineup with Triumph, Rover, and Alvis. Now, future Triumph and Rover models would have to be weighed against (and compete for corporate attention and funds with) not only one another, but also Jaguar and some of the very same middle-class brands whose lunch money the P6 and Triumph 2000 had been stealing — an awkward situation, to say the least.


Months earlier, before the merger, Triumph management had decided that the 2000 was in need of a stylistic freshening up. At that time, Triumph was still busily developing the Stag, a new drophead grand tourer based on the 2000 and also designed by Italian freelance stylist Giovanni Michelotti. Although the structural relationship between the 2000 and the Stag was becoming ever more slender as development proceeded, Triumph decided the 2000 should at least look like the Stag, whose new SOHC V-8 the sedan was intended to one day share. Around mid-1967, Triumph commissioned Michelotti to handle the facelift of the sedan, which was codenamed Innsbruck. Michelotti’s proposal was approved by the board that fall.

1964 Triumph 2000 and 1972 Triumph 2.5 PI front/front 3q © 2012 Graham Robertson (CC BY 2.0 Generic - modified 2013 by Aaron Severson)
Triumph’s big sedans in Mk 1 and Mk 2 form: a 1964 Triumph 2000 (right) with a 1972 Triumph 2.5 PI sedan (left). The Mk 2’s central body structure was largely carryover, but new front and rear clips, a wider rear track, and a heavily revised interior made the Mk 2 look different both inside and out. Both versions were designed by Michelotti, who styled many of Triumph’s sixties cars. (Photo: “Triumph 2000 Mk1 and 2500 Mk2” © 2012 Graham Robertson; resized and modified (cropped, obscured numberplates, removed or blurred background details) 2013 by Aaron Severson and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, with this modified version offered under the same license)

Innsbruck’s key feature was a new front end treatment with a broad, horizontally slatted grille and indicator lights similar to those of the Stag. The rear clip was new, too, with a semi-recessed cove for the taillights that also recalled the Stag, albeit not quite as loudly as did the nose. The tail was extended and the rear track widened to the same 52-inch (1,320mm) width as the front, eliminating the Mk 1 car’s “crab-toed” stance. The longer tail allowed the trunk to be enlarged, answering persistent complaints about the sedan’s limited luggage space.

While the body shells for the Mk 1 sedans had been produced by Pressed Steel Ltd. in Swindon, the tooling for Innsbruck was entrusted to the West German company Karmann, which had already impressed Triumph management by turning the TR5 into the new-looking but structurally carryover TR6. The main reason for going to Karmann was time: Triumph wanted Innsbruck done as soon as possible, presumably so that its launch could be as close as possible to the debut of the Stag, which was originally supposed to bow in 1968. Pressed Steel couldn’t accommodate that schedule, but Karmann could. The Stag’s debut ended up being delayed until June 1970, but the Mk 2 sedans bowed at the Geneva Auto Show in March 1969.

1971 Triumph 2000 Mk2 sedan front © 2007 Paul Brown (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)
1973 Triumph Stag front 3q © 2010 Aaron Severson
The early Mk 2 cars’ front-end treatment, seen here on a 1971 2000 sedan (top), was similar but not identical to that of the Stag (bottom). In mid-1974, the sedan and estate got a new grille that looked even more like the Stag’s; this was used through the end of production. (Top: “Triumph 2000 my own car” © 2007 Paul Brown; used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license; bottom: author photo)

As we mentioned in our previous installment, despite the Mk 2’s cosmetic resemblance to the Stag, the chances of the sedan receiving the Stag’s V-8 engine were already disappearing. Spen King ordered the V-8 enlarged from about 2.5 liters (153 cu. in. or near enough) to 2,997 cc (183 cu. in.) in search of more torque, which required upgrading the Stag’s body structure, running gear, brakes, wheels, and tires accordingly. Using the enlarged V-8 in the sedan would mean making similar changes, which threatened to make the project prohibitively expensive.

Beyond that, the rationale for a V-8 sedan was no longer obvious, since its main effect would have been to cut into sales of the Rover 3500 and Jaguar XJ6. That had of course been precisely the idea, but in the wake of the BLMC merger, it represented a level of cannibalization British Leyland couldn’t afford. In the end, the only sedans to receive the V-8 were a half dozen or so development mules and a single finished car used for a time by sales director Linden Mills. Considering the V-8’s subsequent reliability problems, it was probably just as well.


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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.


    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 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.

  25. I run a ’69 2.5PI in France – with the assistance of Chris Witor in the UK for parts. It’s rust-free and now has a ‘TR5+’ drive line.
    It’s a great thing to drive; quick enough and comfortable on a run. Simple engineering and good parts availability means it could be a daily runner if necessary – I do carry a few tools in the back, just in case. Less now than previous as confidence grows!

  26. Hello,I have accidently discovered this passionate and lengthy conversation and want to say something about these cars too.I bought my 77 2.5 TC auto from its first owner in Perth Western Australia. I bought it as a piece of retail therapy one day 9 yrs ago for very little money. The owner cared for it with unrelenting fervour but alas selected the wrong mechanics who systematicly ruined the usabilty of the car by their incompetency and disregard for quality workmanship. I began to tinker out all the faults 1 by 1 each time revealing a car that was surprisingly nice to drive. (It is still the only one I have driven) After 2 yrs of continuous ellimination of mechanic created bugs,the car was running superbly well and in daily use as it has been since new. I have driven this car constantly now for about nine yrs. In that time I have grown extraordinarily familiar with all its moving parts and confident to drive it at ever increasing speeds thru the twisty roads of New Zealand where I now live. This car is part of a 6 car classic fleet of mine and is by far the most enjoyable to drive of all of them. As a completely unmodified unrestored 40 yr old car I chuckle to myself at the beutiful way it handles at high speed on the well kept twisty mountainous rds of NZs sth island without any performance mods of any kind. It is the most delightfully fast predictable and trustworthy car in these conditions. I have recently been considering how I might go about upgrading its overall performance when I ran into this digital conversation. I would like to increase the horsepower and improve the handling using factory spec Triumph parts. I have given up trying to improve the looks of the car but actually Michelotti cant be outsmarted. The body design is flawed by the styling of the glass but there is a uniqueness to it now that deserves its own merit just the way it is. I suspect this car will stay with me for quite some time yet and no doubt will become more of a treasure than it already is.
    Mark Jarvis Nelson New Zealand.

  27. Well Trevor here in Australia I used to put a bag of ice over the fuel pump…that was good for the days driving. I feel that Bruce A. was way off in his ideas.My Triumph now is a 77 2500s taken out to 2.7 with oil cooler, bigger alternator, TR6 head and cam, gas flowed inlet manifold, ceramic coated extractors, gas shocks/struts, halogen lights, c.v rear susp, aluminium rad, a/c, 15 inch Superlites. I find myself constantly talking to strangers in petrol stations about the car!! My new Mitsubishi is nice but….

    1. I guess my car is a bit like Grandad’s axe, best axe ever… on its third head and fifth shaft!! Still the original design was advanced for the time and has allowed sympathetic improvements over the years!!

  28. I’m not going to tell Bruce Armstrong his opinions are wrong, because his opinions are his own, and with classic cars like any art how you appreciate them is up to you. I just don’t know why anyone would read a whole article on a classic car site, just so he can make the first comment in the comments thread telling everyone how the car is actually complete rubbish. The cool kids would call this “trolling” and they are not wrong!

    I am a 1980 model living in New Zealand. Since learning to drive in my father’s 1970 2000 Mk2 automatic in the 1990s, I have driven every model of Mk 2 2000/2500 except the 2500S. So I have these cars in my blood and I’ve had 20 years of driving them that has helped me to get to terms with some of the good, bad and ugly features of them.

    My first car was a 1977 2500TC automatic, which was destroyed in a motorway crash and replaced with a 1971 2.5PI manual overdrive. This PI is now off the road as a long-term restoration project that will eventually be my “forever” car (once mortgages and children permit!) I also spent time with a 1973 2.5PI manual overdrive with power steering and front anti-roll bar, this car died from uneconomical body rust during my ownership but a lot of parts will live on in the restoration of the 1971 PI.
    Lastly, I did a short stint in my father’s spare 1978 2000TC manual when my PI was in the shop.

    To me they are all flawed but ultimately glorious cars. My experience of them is as follows:

    Suspension and handling:

    All models are very softly-sprung, prone to body roll, and you need to line up your entry to a corner carefully because they are not the sort of car that you can just change line halfway through and get it a bit sideways to lose some speed while keeping it all under control.

    Both 2.5PIs I’ve owned have had suspension mods by past owners. The 1971 had much harder rear springs and shock absorbers on the original wheels and tyres. The seller told me the springs came from a 2500 estate and the shock absorbers are custom Konis to suit.
    This car still feels like an old car and you have to drive carefully and deliberately. But it feels like a very good old car, and it is much better than the 2000 for fast driving because the PI has enough power to push itself out of a corner strongly, and the firmed up rear end means you can pour on the power without fear of it wallowing and floating. The hard rear end also seems to keep the spline lock-up “Triumph twitch” to a minimum. I don’t find that the hard rear springs hurts the ride comfort at all, it is still a very smooth comfortable car to cruise along in on good roads, but it has now gained the ability to get around the corner at the end of the straight bit.

    This car’s first owner in 1971 was a serious car enthusiast and he said sorting out the rear end transformed the PI into a car that felt in the same league as his father’s BMW 3.0CS and Porsche 911S of the same era.
    If this is true, then it suggests that Triumph 2000s have very good bones, and the soft ride and body roll are problems that it should be possible to tune out of them, especially with today’s aftermarket springs, shocks and plethora of mag wheels and performance tyres.

    The 1973 PI had a standard rear end, but it had 14″ alloys and 185/70SR14 tyres and a front anti roll bar. It also had power steering and a small-diameter 2500S steering wheel. This combo makes it feel almost like a modern car.The power steering rack is much quicker than the manual steering, and this really DOESN’T suit the handling of a standard 2500 with soft suspension and 185/80R13 tyres. But with the anti roll bar the front end can cope with quicker steering inputs, and with lower profile tyres there is all the grip in the world for normal driving. So the car is transformed into a car that you can dig into any corner like it is a modern car, and use the grip to get you through while the anti-roll bar does exactly what it says on the label. The power steering is very light in your hands, but once you learn it, it is actually more communicative than most modern FWD cars which offer a lot of artificial dead weight in the steering wheel “feel” but no more real sense of what the wheels are really doing on the road.

    When I get my 1971 PI back on the road, it will have the wheels, power steering and anti roll bar from the 1973 car, as well as its own firmed-up rear end, and (Hopefully!) the best of all worlds. The front anti-roll bar is a simple bolt-on upgrade as long as you can obtain all of the bits.

    My Father’s unmodified 2000 Mk2 was exactly as everyone says. Smooth ride, lots of body roll, not a lot of grip, not a lot of power, definitely a car you should relax and take your time in!
    For comparison my dad also owns a 1964 BMC 1100 and that car handled like a wide bodied Mini even before it had modern radial tyres. (Those are VERY under-rated cars but that is a whole article in itself!) Dad said that when the Triumph 2000 was new it felt “almost” as sure-footed as the 1100, but age has wearied the Triumph quite a bit. (That may also have been a bit of new car buyer’s rose tinted glasses, as Triumphs give a communicative “feel” to the driver but no-one would never say they handle like a Mini!)


    None of the cars I drove has had modified engines. The engines are simultaneously the best and the worst parts of these cars.

    The 2000 is a beautifully smooth quiet engine, but there is no bottom end torque and it would need to be able to rev out at least another 1000rpm or so to make any decent top end horsepower.
    Mating it to 3 speed auto absolutely hobbles the 2000 engine, but even with the 4-speed manual you do a lot of rowing to get any acceleration happening.
    (Honda fans can buy a high performance big end bolt kit to add a thousand RPM to the redline of their engines, it is a pity no enterprising individual has developed something like this for Triumph 2000s!)

    The 2500TC is a significant step up in performance, even with the 3-speed Auto these have enough grunt that you can just step on the gas and push your way into any gap in motorway traffic. All 2.5 litre engines are noisy and a bit rough at all speeds, this was probably seen as a flaw in a new car but in a classic toy car it is fine. 2500TCs are not really interested in revving to the red line though and seem to run out of puff about a thousand RPM short.

    The 2.5PI engine is just glorious when it’s running right. The throttle response with the 6 individual throttles is like a hair trigger, the best of any car, old or new, that I’ve ever driven. There is more noise and vibration than the 2500TC, but unlike the TC the PI engine really wants to rev and rewards keeping it in the power band. It is only 132 HP but with the peak torque delivery from 2000rpm it feels much stronger than the figures suggest.


    Contrary to all of the literature I believe there is something very different about the PI gearbox. In manual 2000TCs and 2500TCs the lever goes into gear with a rubbery feel that slows down what is already a slow and clunky gearbox that does not really feel strong enough for the power of the engine.

    In PIs the gear lever is a little bit shorter, but the feel is completely different – lighter, and it slots into each gear with a metal-on-metal feel like you can feel the working parts meshing together. It’s still a slow delicate feeling gearbox that you tip-toe around a bit, but it is much more conducive to making lots of gear changes and keeping the engine on the boil, compared to the gearboxes in the twin carburetor cars.


    The brakes in these cars aren’t really strong enough for the performance of the engines, especially in the PI which is a moderately fast-ish car that also delivers very little manifold vacuum to drive the brake booster. The facelift cars with tandem master cylinders feel much better than the early cars with a single master cylinder.

    Fit and finish:

    You only have to sit in a Rover P6 or an MGB to see how Triumphs were CLEARLY built down to a price, and there must have been several rounds of value engineering before they started selling them. None of the chrome is as shiny as it could be, and none of the plastic bits are as solid as they could be. The seats are plastic made to look like leather and the carpet is a bit disappointing.
    The beauty of a Triumph 2000 is in its style. It is a long, low car with clean lines, having just enough curves defined by just enough sharp edges. It has an understated satin finish wood dashboard like a violin, almost every other average Brit car of the era has a deep gloss varnish dashboard for people who want to kid themselves they’re driving a Bentley or something.
    The PI must be the only car in history where the designers decided to differentiate the go-faster model by toning down the exterior of the base model: the huge chrome 2000 grille is painted over in satin black, there is a black plastic thing between the tail lights to dull down the back end a bit, and there are only a couple of very subtle extra badges that don’t really scream “get out of my way I’m really fast!”
    Overall all models of Triumph 2000 look like exactly what they are, a car designed by an italian stylist who was used to designing one-off coachbuilt bodies for Maseratis. It has taste, even if it doesn’t have all the flashiness of more expensive cars.

    I see the big glassy cockpit with a high roof and low waist line as a feature, not a bug. If you are driving fast you want the best view possible of the road ahead, not obstructed by some sort of power bulge in your own bonnet, or the frame of your windscreen, or a high dashboard you have to peer over. If you are reversing into a parallel park in town you want a big rear window with thin pillars, so that you can see the rear corners of your car!


    I am a structural engineer by profession so the way the static body shells of these cars are put together fascinates and disappoints me. Almost every other British car of the 1960s reveals a row of bolts when you open the bonnet, so that with a socket set it would take ten minutes to remove the outer guard to rust-kill and re-paint it inside and out.
    Triumph 2000s alone are completely welded solid, with no removable panels anywhere, and lots of double skin areas where a perished window seal will allow rainwater to fall into a deep dark well from which there is no drainage, and no escape, except to rust through to the inside and outside of the body at the same time. So ANY body work at all requires paying a body shop, or advanced skills.

    Comparisons with Rover P6:

    No, just no. Every period motoring mag directly compares the Rover 2000 and the Triumph 2000, it’s like they were blinded by the marketing of these two new cars that must have seemed like rocket ships from the future when you look at what came before them. Here in New Zealand Rovers were fusty cars for social climbers who couldn’t afford a Jaguar. Triumphs were actually called “the cheap man’s Jag” but people said that with a smile on their face because Triumphs were relatable cars that had conventional good looks.
    If you park a Triumph next to a Rover P6 at a car show the Rover looks “flasher” for sure… but it is also a big, ugly, lumpy mess with bits of lego sticking out all over it, bizarrely culminating in traditional gothic arch tail lights like a 1960s car. Obviously designed by a committee!

    I also don’t believe the 4 cylinder OR the V8 P6 Rovers are anything like as fast as people claim. They are big solid cars and no doubt they trundle along nicely on English motorways. But even the V8 is only about 145hp which is not a million miles away from what a 2.5PI produces. In my experience of classic car club runs even an auto 2500TC will hang in behind a P6 V8 on any road that features undulations or curves. And a PI is a low-slung, angry sports car by comparison, urging you to overtake!

    1. A comprehensive assessment! Thank you. Regarding the P6 Rover 3500, my impression is that the transmissions mute the performance quite a bit in the real world. Based on contemporary test figures, the automatic isn’t really any quicker than a 2.5PI and the transmission is rather slushy. (A better automatic, like a Chrysler A904 TorqueFlite with appropriate torque converter and shift point selection, would probably be transformative in both regards.) The four-speed cars are quicker, but a sensible modern owner recognizes that the engine is flirting with the ragged edges of the gearbox’s torque capacity and probably takes it easy on that account unless they’ve substituted a later Rover five-speed gearbox.

      1. I must admit I’ve made those comments never having driven any Rover other than a 1980s SD1 V8, which was obviously streets ahead of the Triumphs and had bigger and better everything.

        In the Triumphs I’ve known the Borg Warner auto seems to be much better built than the rest of the car and probably capable of handling a much more powerful engine. If people do have auto troubles they seem to have no trouble finding donor gearboxes to swap in because usually the car dies with a perfectly good auto trans still inside it. The only problem is that 3 speeds just aren’t enough for these engines.

      2. There are aftermarket halfshafts with CV joints rather than splines, which cure the “Triumph twitch.”

        There’s a very interesting page on AR-Online by a man in New Zealand who replaced the Borg-Warner transmission in his Rover P6 3500 with a ZF unit. A big project, as you’d expect, and he had to have a custom crossmember fabricated, but he’s very happy with the results.

        1. Something that I think got lost on older European cars with automatic (a lot of which used the B-W 35 because it was locally available) was the importance of matching the transmission’s torque converter and shift characteristics to specific engines. Doing so isn’t necessarily mechanically difficult, at least at the manufacturing level, since it’s largely a matter of selecting the proper springs and weights for the valve body and governor, but it can be a bit of a black art. The effect can be fairly dramatic, the difference between an infuriating slushbox and a transmission that’s a good match for a four-speed manual gearbox. I assume because the market for automatics was small until relatively recently, there was a tendency to treat the automatic transmission as an off-the-shelf item, with a consequent sacrifice in performance.

          1. A problem nearly all European cars had was engines below around 2 liters didn’t produce enough torque to make the extra losses through an automatic transmission insignificant.
            The brilliantly designed but poorly executed AP ‘box found in fwd BMC small cars is an honorable exception.
            The triumph engine with its good low speed urge was much better suited to automatic than the P6 Rover engine. Of course the V8 3500 engine produced bags of torque and power, as did just about any 3 liter and up engine. I’m referring to European engines of course!.
            Most smaller models had significantly worse performance and economy compared to manual versions.
            Chrysler UK markets a 4 speed Borg Warner automatic in the Avenger model in 1974, but by then Ford and GM (Vauxhall/Opel) were introducing scaled down automatics, and it didn’t sell in any other car I know of.


          2. That’s certainly true, but there are of course questions of degree. An automatic that’s appropriately tuned to the engine may still sacrifice quite a bit in terms of objective performance, but won’t feel quite so strained. It’s the difference between having a leisurely stroll and feeling like you’re too winded to walk at all.

  29. I have indeed very much enjoyed reading all the above comments. I owe a 2500 PI which was bought by my late father in 1971. I love this car not just because it brings fantastic memories of my childhood, in fact I find it a beautiful car with a fantastic engine sound. I am in the process of restoring I am enjoying all the steps. the Lucas fuel pump has been reconditioned and the one in the rear boot has been replaced by a Bosch device.

    Regards to all Triumph Lovers, Nuno

  30. Nothing like resuscitating an old thread.

    Very interesting reading, with a good article and enlightening comments.

    I too believe that the Rover and Triumphs were very different vehicles, though servicing the same potential market. Having looked at both when I was young, the Triumphs appeared more a driver’s vehicle than the Rover. Hence I have never owned a Rover, or an automatic transmission either.
    Mk II
    I have now had six Triumphs, from an Australian 12/50, Mk 1 2000 and a Mk II 2.5PI, all manuals, in the 1970’s. I currently have three, two 1970 Mk II sedans, one 2.5PI (number 195), one a 2000 auto modified with the engine, drive train and suspension of a 2500S, and a 1977 2500S. None of my first three had overdrive, but all my current ones do.

    My conviction is that the cars with overdrive are fun to drive in the right situation. They are pleasant touring cars, and great fun on gravel and dirt roads – just miss the aircon in modern cars, and I might not be enthusiastic about commuting in them in heavy traffic.

    Yes, I did have trouble with the 2.5PI. I drove west across the Nullabor when there was a lot of unsealed road in the early 70’s in my 2000, and back east in the 2.5Pi. The unsealed section had not been graded for a while, but both cars handled the ruts and bulldust with aplomb. Except the Lucas fuel pump let me down. However, I did manage to get it going again with only an 8-hour delay – not bad for a novice.

    I later overcame the fuel pump problems by winding copper tubing around the pump and running the fuel through it. Never had a fuel pump problem again.

    I believe that our fuel in Australia was not great, particularly in rural areas. At times, my car developed a miss after refueling in the country a few times. I would remove the injectors one by one until I found the one not spraying properly. Gentle taps would quickly allow flowing fuel to wash away the gum causing the issue, and all would be fine again.

    There was, however, one other design fault in the fuel injection system. The fuel injector was located in a body with the single o-ring seal. The movement caused by pulsing would tend to work harden the rubber. (Twin o-rings could have alleviated this slight rocking motion from the pulsing). This could be diagnosed by drips coming from the side of the injector as well as the spray. I changed them periodically, and always carried a set of 6 with me whenever I went anywhere.

    My assessment, and experience, was that I could fix the fuel and ignition on this car on the side of the road. I now have a lot more experience and training, but seriously doubt that I could fix a modern car so easily.

    Yes, my Commodore (13th last one sold new of my model in Australia) is bigger, more powerful and more comfortable. However, I have driven long distances to club events in Australia and thoroughly enjoyed myself, even covering around 1,600 miles in three days without undue strain a couple of times recently. The overdrive makes a much bigger difference than I expected, and mid 30’s MPG is regularly achieved.

    So, while nostalgia is part of the reason for buying these cars, I do get great pleasure out of driving them. The only modification on all three cars is that I have fitted each of them with the Datsun half shafts, which use ball races rather than splines. I did not do that because I wanted to rid of the twitch. I had one diff fatigue failure from the side loads applied by the twitch. Since that was something that I could not fix on the side of the road, I decided to take mitigating action. Everything else I enjoy, even playing and fixing the Lucas electrics.

    My recommendation is that if you have ever desired one of these fine cars, buy one and get into the classic car world. Lot more fun that playing bowls or golf in retirement, and the Triumph crowd involved have all turned out to be great people. Cheers to all.

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