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The Artful Bodger 8 - Triumphs Again

The DriveWrite Archives Topics:  Triumph Herald

The Artful Bodger 8 - Triumphs Again

Stan Potter
January 26, 2014

Triumph Herald Triumph Herald
Stan Potter remembers how easy it once was to effect automotive repairs:

Over the years I have owned several Triumph Heralds. Back in the 1960’s they were a popular family car. The Herald, Spitfire, Vitesse and GT6 were all based on the same basic chassis, and were one of the last small cars to have a separate chassis. At that time they were unusual in that they had all-round independent suspension. The independent rear suspension had a nasty trick up its sleeve; under hard cornering the inside wheel could tuck under causing a catastrophic loss of stability.

This was a problem also found in the VW Beetle which had a similar rear suspension. Also, an American author called Ralph Nader effectively killed a car called the Chevrolet Corvair by publishing a book called “Unsafe At Any Speed” which highlighted the Corvair's similar problems. This problem was finally eradicated with the GT6 when a double jointed suspension system was adopted. The Triumph range had a very small turning circle which could equal that of a London Taxi. This made parking very easy although if used too often could result in severe front tyre wear.

For the home mechanic these cars were ideal. The forward opening bonnet allowed engine maintenance to be carried out sitting on one of the front wheels. The vast majority of tasks could be easily done with very few tools. Indeed, on one trip to France I had to change a prop shaft universal with a ½” spanner, a screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a hammer. Over the years I had taken the car apart many times. After it failed the MOT, I removed the complete body and had the rotten parts replaced with new metal welded into position and then cold galvanised to protect it in future.

One modification I had made to the car was to fit a commercially made tow bar which resembled a smaller version of the Forth Bridge. This came in handy when I was rear-ended at a set of traffic lights. The Toyota Sunny that hit me smashed its grill, punctured its radiator, broke the bumper and had to be towed away. I had a black mark on the white rubber bumper!

The first Herald I owned was a 12/50 (1147cc). To keep it running I also purchased a 13/60 (1297cc). The majority of components, except the engine, were directly interchangeable. This enabled me to keep the earlier car running for several years. The components I did not use I put to one side with the intention of building a Midge - which was a kit car which used a cut down Herald chassis and a body made from an 8’x4’ sheet of plywood, motor cycle mudguards and a small sheet of aluminium.

As with most good intentions it never got built. The Herald is a good car to learn on and mine taught me a great deal. Eventually I needed to replace the engine. Good Herald engines were becoming rare so I found that if I got hold of a Triumph Toledo 1300cc engine, with some modification it would fit. I found that if I substituted the carburettor, inlet manifold, dynamo, sump, distributor and engine mountings for the Herald items it fitted straight in. The only problem was I had acquired such a collection of Triumph components it was getting out of bounds so as there was another car on the horizon, the collection had to go.

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