Triumph Motor Company
Fate Taken over by Standard Motor Company later merged with and continuing as a division of Leyland Motors Ltd and its successors
Founded 1885
Defunct 1984
Headquarters Coventry, England
Key people Siegfried Bettmann, Moritz (Maurice) Schulte (founders)
Parent Standard Motors Ltd, Leyland Motors Ltd, British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd, BL plc

The Triumph Motor Company was a British car and motor manufacturing company. The Triumph marque (trade-name) is owned currently by BMW company. The marque had its origins during 1885 when Siegfried Bettmann (1863–1951) of Nuremberg initiated S. Bettmann & Co and started importing bicycles from Europe and selling them with his own trade-name in London. The trade-name became "Triumph" the year next, and during 1887 Bettmann was joined by a partner, Moritz (Maurice) Schulte, also from Germany. Beginning 1889 the businessmen started producing their own bicycles in Coventry, England.

Triumph 10-20

1923 Triumph 10/20


The Triumph Cycle CompanyEdit

The company was renamed the Triumph Cycle Co. Ltd. during 1897.[1] During 1902 it began producing Triumph motor cycles at their works in Coventry on Much Park Street. At first these used engines purchased from another company, but the business prospered and they soon started making their own engines. During 1907 they purchased the premises of a spinning mill on Priory Street to develop a new factory. Major orders for the 550 cc Model H were made by the British Army during World War 1 and by 1918 they were Britain's largest maker of motorcycles.


1931 Triumph Super 9, 4 Door Tourer

During 1921, Bettmann was persuaded by his general manager Claude Holbrook (1886–1979), who had joined the company during 1919, to acquire the assets and Clay Lane premises of the Dawson Car Company and start producing a car and 1.4 litre engine type named the Triumph 10/20 which was actually designed for them by Lea-Francis to whom they paid a royalty for every car sold.[2] Production of this car and its immediate successors was moderate, but this changed with the introduction during 1927 of the Triumph Super 7 which sold in large numbers through 1934.

The Triumph Motor CompanyEdit


1934 Triumph Gloria Six


1936 Triumph Gloria Southern Cross 10.8 HP (four, 1,232 cc)


1937 Triumph Dolomite Roadster

During 1930 the company's name was changed to Triumph Motor Company.[1] Holbrook realized he could not compete with the larger car companies for the mass market, so he decided to produce expensive cars, and introduced the models Southern Cross and Gloria. At first these used engines made by Triumph but designed by Coventry Climax, but from 1937 they started to produce them by their own designs by Donald Healey who had become the company’s Experimental Manager during 1934.

The company had financial problems however and during 1936 the Triumph bicycle and motorcycle businesses were sold, the latter to Jack Sangster of Ariel to become Triumph Engineering Co Ltd.[1] Healey purchased an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 and developed a new car model with an Alfa inspired straight-8 engine type named the Triumph Dolomite.[3] However the eight-cylinder engine was not used in the production car with the same name.

During July 1939, the Triumph Motor Company went into receivership and the factory, equipment and goodwill were offered for sale.[2] T.W. Ward who owned several other engineering businesses purchased the company and placed Healey in charge as general manager, but the effects of World War II again stopped the production of cars and the Priory Street works was completely destroyed by bombing during 1940.

Standard TriumphEdit

1946 Triumph Roadster

1946 Triumph 1800 Roadster

During November 1944 what was left of the Triumph Motor Company and the Triumph trade-name were bought by the Standard Motor Company[4] and a subsidiary "Triumph Motor Company (1945) Limited" was formed with production transferred to Standard's factory at Canley, on the outskirts of Coventry. Triumph's new owners had been supplying engines to Jaguar and its predecessor company since 1938. After a "considerable argument" between Standard-Triumph Managing Director, Sir John Black, and William Lyons, the creator and owner of Jaguar, Black's objective in acquiring the rights to the name and the remnants of the bankrupt Triumph business was to build a car to compete with the soon to be initiated post-war Jaguars.[5]

The pre-war Triumph models were not revived and during 1946 a new range of Triumphs starting with the Triumph Roadster was announced. Because of steel shortages these were bodied with aluminium which was plentiful because of its use for aircraft production. The same engine was used for the 1800 Town and Country saloon, later named the Triumph Renown, which was notable for the styling chosen by Standard-Triumph's managing director Sir John Black. A similar style was also used for the subsequent Triumph Mayflower light saloon. All three of these models prominently sported the "globe" badge that had been used on pre-war models. When Sir John was forced to retire from the company this range of cars was discontinued without being replaced directly, sheet aluminium having by now become a prohibitively expensive alternative to sheet steel for most auto-industry purposes.

Triumph Mayflower

1950 Triumph Mayflower

Triumph TR2 1991cc November 1955

1955 Triumph TR2

During the early 1950s it was decided to use the Triumph name for sporting cars and the Standard name for saloons and during 1953 the Triumph TR2 was initiated, the first of a series that would be produced until 1981. Curiously the TR2 had a Standard badge on its front and the Triumph globe on its hubcaps.

Standard had been making a range of small saloons named the Standard Eight and Ten and had been working on a replacement for these. The success of the TR range meant that Triumph was considered as a more marketable name than Standard and the new car was initiated during 1959 as the Triumph Herald; the last Standard car to be made in the UK, the Vanguard was replaced during 1963 by the Triumph 2000 .

Leyland and beyondEdit

Green co

1960 Triumph Herald 948cc Coupe

Triumph TR3x

1955-57 Triumph TR3


1970 Triumph Vitesse Mk.2 Convertible

During December 1960 the company was bought by Leyland Motors Ltd with Donald Stokes becoming chairman of the Standard Triumph division during 1963. Further mergers resulted in the formation of British Leyland Motor Corporation during 1968.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Triumph sold a succession of Michelotti-styled saloons and sports cars, including the advanced Dolomite Sprint, which, during 1973, already had a 16-valve four cylinder engine. It is alleged that many Triumphs of this era were unreliable, especially the 2.5 PI (petrol injection) with its fuel injection problems. In Australia, the summer heat caused petrol in the electric fuel pump to vapourise, resulting in frequent malfunctions of the 2.5 PI and TR6 models. While the injection system had proved itself in international competition, it did lack altitude compensation for the adjustment of mixture at altitudes greater than 3000 feet (1000 meters) above sea level. The main reason for the Lucas system's unpopularity was that Lucas did not want to develop it more, and the unwillingness of Standard-Triumph dealers to attend factory and field-based training courses dedicated to this propulsion method.

For most of its time owned by Leyland or BL, the Triumph marque belonged in the Specialist Division of the company which went by the names of Rover Triumph and later Jaguar Rover Triumph other than a brief period during the mid 1970s when all BL's car marques or brands were grouped together by the name of Leyland Cars.

Triumph Spitfire Mk4 1973 1

1973 Triumph Spitfire

The only all-new Triumph model initiated as Rover Triumph was the TR7, which had the misfortune to be in production successively at three factories that were closed - Speke, the strike-prone Leyland-era Standard-Triumph works in Liverpool, the original Standard works at Canley, Coventry and finally the Rover works in Solihull. Plans for an extended range based on the TR7, including a fastback variant codenamed "Lynx", were ended when the Speke factory closed. The four-cylinder TR7 and its short-lived eight-cylindered derivative the TR8 were terminated when the road car section of the Solihull plant was closed (the plant continues to build Land Rovers.)

The end of Triumph carsEdit

The last Triumph model was the Acclaim which was initiated during 1981 and was essentially a rebadged Honda Ballade built by licence from Japanese company Honda at the former Morris Motor Company works in Cowley, Oxford. The Triumph name became disused during 1984, when the Acclaim was replaced by the Rover 200, which was a rebadged version of Honda's next generation Civic/Ballade model. The BL car division was by then named Austin Rover Group which also ended the Morris marque as well as Triumph.

Current ownershipEdit


1974 Triumph GT6 Coupé

'76 Triumph TR6 (Hudson)

1976 Triumph TR6

The trademark is owned currently by BMW, which acquired Triumph when it bought the Rover Group during 1994. When it sold Rover, it kept the Triumph marque. The Phoenix Consortium, which bought Rover, tried to buy the Triumph brand, but BMW refused, saying that if Phoenix insisted, it would end the deal. The Standard marque was transferred to British Motor Heritage Limited, along with Austin, Morris, and Wolseley marques. The Austin, Morris and Wolseley marques were later sold to MG Rover Group Ltd, on the 10th December 2003. The Standard marque is still retained by British Motor Heritage who also have the licence to use the Triumph marque in relation to the sale of spares and service of the existing 'park' of Triumph cars.

The MG marque was sold to Phoenix along with the sale of the Rover brand images and a licence to use the Rover name. The Rover name was later sold to Ford, with the Nanjing Automotive Company gaining the rights to the brand image. The Triumph name has been retained by BMW along with Riley, Rolls-Royce and Mini. During late 2007, the magazine Auto Express, after continued rumours that Triumph be revived with BMW ownership, featured a story showing an image of what a new version of the TR4 might look like. BMW has not commented officially on this.


Triumph Dolomite Sprint

Triumph TR7 cabriolet 1998cc Aug 1982

1982 Triumph TR7 cabriolet

Triumph Acclaim August 1983 1335cc

1983 Triumph Acclaim


The ill fated Triumph Lynx

Triumph car modelsEdit


Model Name Engine Year
Triumph 10/20 1393 cc inline 4 (1923–1925)
Triumph 13/35 or 12.8 1872 cc inline 4 (1927–1927)
Triumph 15/50 or Fifteen 2169 cc inline 4 (1926–1930)
Triumph Super 7 747 cc inline 4 (1928)
Triumph Super 8 832 cc inline 4 (1930)
Triumph Super 9 1018 cc inline 4 (1931)
Triumph Gloria 10 1087 cc inline 4 (1933)
Triumph 12-6 Scorpion 1203 cc inline 6 (1931–1933)
Triumph Southern Cross 1087/1232 cc inline 4 (1932)
Triumph Gloria ('12' / '12') Four 1232/1496 cc inline 4 (1934–1937)
Triumph Gloria ('6' / '6/16') Six 1476/1991 cc inline 6 (1934–1935)
Triumph Gloria 14 1496/1767 cc inline 4 (1937–1938)
Triumph Dolomite 8 1990 cc inline 8 (DOHC) (1934)
Triumph Dolomite Vitesse 14 1767/1991 cc inline 4/6 (1937–1938)
Triumph Dolomite 14/60 1767/1991 cc inline 4/6 (1937–1939)
Triumph Dolomite Roadster 1767/1991 cc inline 4/6 (1937–1939)
Triumph 12 1496 cc inline 4 (1939–1940)

Post warEdit

Model name Engine Year Number built
Triumph 1800 Saloon 1776 cc inline 4 1946–1949
Triumph 1800 Roadster 1776 cc inline 4 1946–1948
Triumph 2000 Saloon 2088 cc inline 4 1949
Triumph 2000 Roadster 2088 cc inline 4 1948–1949
Triumph Renown 2088 cc inline 4 1949–1954
Triumph Mayflower 1247 cc inline 4 1949–1953
Triumph TR1 / 20TS 2208 cc inline 4 1950
Triumph TR2 1991 cc inline 4 1953–1955 8,636[6]
Triumph TR3 1991 cc inline 4 1956–1958
Triumph TR3A 1991 cc inline 4 1958–1962
Triumph TR3B 2138 cc inline 4 1962
Triumph Italia 1991 cc inline 4 1959–1962
Triumph TR4 2138 cc inline 4 1961–1965
Triumph TR4A 2138 cc inline 4 1965–1967
Triumph TR5 2498 cc inline 6 1967–1969
Triumph TR250 2498 cc inline 6 1967–1969
Triumph GT6 1998 cc inline 6 1966–1971
Triumph Dove GTR4 2138 cc inline 4 1961–1964
Triumph TR6 2498 cc inline 6 1969–1976
Triumph TR7 1998 cc inline 4 1974–1981
Triumph TR8 3528 cc V8 1979–1981
Triumph Spitfire 4 (Spitfire Mk I) 1147 cc inline 4 1962–1965 45,763[7]
Triumph Spitfire Mk II 1147 cc inline 4 1965–1967 37,409[7]
Triumph Spitfire Mk III 1296 cc inline 4 1967–1970 65,320[7]
Triumph Spitfire Mk IV 1296 cc inline 4 1970–1974 70,021[7]
Triumph Spitfire 1500 1493 cc inline 4 1974–1980 95,829[7]
Triumph GT6 1998 cc inline 6 1966–1973
Triumph Herald 948 cc inline 4 1959–1964
Triumph Herald 1200 1147 cc inline 4 1961–1970
Triumph Herald 12/50 1147 cc inline 4 1963–1967
Triumph Herald 13/60 1296 cc inline 4 1967–1971
Triumph Vitesse 6 1596 cc inline 6 1962–1966
Triumph Vitesse Sports 6 (US version of Vitesse 6) 1596 cc inline 6 1962–1964
Triumph Vitesse 2-litre and Vitesse Mark 2 1998 cc inline 6 1966–1971
Triumph 1300 1296 cc inline 4 1965–1970
Triumph 1300 TC 1296 cc inline 4 1967–1970
Triumph 1500 1493 cc inline 4 1970–1973
Triumph 1500 TC 1493 cc inline 4 1973–1976
Triumph Stag 2997 cc V8 1971–1977
Triumph Toledo 1296 cc inline 4 1970–1978
Triumph Dolomite 1300 1296 cc inline 4 1976–1981
Triumph Dolomite 1500 1493 cc inline 4 1976–1981
Triumph Dolomite 1500 HL 1493 cc inline 4 1976–1981
Triumph Dolomite 1850 1850 cc inline 4 1972–1976
Triumph Dolomite 1850 HL 1850 cc inline 4 1976–1981
Triumph Dolomite Sprint 1998 cc inline 4 1973–1981
Triumph 2000 Mk1, Mk2, TC 1998 cc inline 6 1963–1977
Triumph 2.5 PI Mk1, Mk2 2498 cc inline 6 1968–1975
Triumph 2500 TC & S 2498 cc inline 6 1974–1977
Triumph Acclaim 1335 cc inline 4 1981–1984 133,625[8]


Triumph-based modelsEdit

Vale Special (1932–1936) very low built two-seater based on Super 8 and Gloria
Swallow Doretti (1954–1955)
Amphicar (1961–1968) used a Triumph Herald engine
Bond Equipe GT (1964–1967)
Fairthorpe Cars
Saab 99 used Triumph engines when the supply of German Ford V-4s ended.
Lotus Seven (1960–1968) the Series 2 had many Standard Triumph parts.
Daimler SP250 used many Standard Triumph running gear and suspension parts[citation needed]
Jensen-Healey Mk. I used TR-6 front brakes.
MG Midget 1500 (1975–1979) Rubber-bumpered Midgets used the 1493cc L-4 and gearbox borrowed from the Triumph Spitfire.

Badging Edit

The Globe

Pre-war Triumphs carried a stylised Globe badge, usually on the radiator grille, and this was also used on the first three models produced under Standard's control.

The Griffin

Standard had introduced a new badge in 1947 for their own models, first seen on the Vanguard, a highly-stylised motif based on the wings of a Griffin.[9] With the introduction of the TR2, a version of this badge appeared for the first time on the bonnet of a production Triumph, while the Globe continued to appear on the hubcaps. This same double-badging also appeared on the TR3 and TR4, the 2000 and the 1300.

However, the original Herald, Spitfire, Vitesse and GT6 models all carried only the Griffin badge on their bonnets/radiator grilles, with unadorned hubcaps.

The TR4A appeared with a Globe badge on the bonnet, apparently signifying a return to the original Triumph badging. This was short-lived, as a policy of Leylandisation mean that neither Globe nor Griffin appeared on subsequent models from the TR5 onwards, or on later versions of the Spitfire, GT6 and 2000.


Leyland's corporate badge, a design based on the spokes of a wheel, appeared on the hubcaps of the 1500FWD, and next to the Triumph name on the metal identification labels fitted to the bootlids of various models. It was also used for the oil filler cap on the Dolomite Sprint engine. However it was never used as a bonnet badge, with models of that era such as the TR6 and the second generation 2000 carrying a badge simply stating the name "Triumph".

The Stag

The Stag model carried a unique grille badge showing a highly-stylised stag.

The Laurel Wreath

The last versions of the TR7 and Dolomite ranges received an all-new badge with the word Triumph surrounded by laurel wreaths, and this was also used for the Acclaim. It was carried on the bonnet and the steering wheel boss.

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Robson, Graham (1972). The Story of Triumph Sports Cars. Croydon: MRP. ISBN 0-900549-23-8. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Georgano, N. (2000). Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile. London: HMSO. ISBN 1-57958-293-1. 
  3. "Alfa Romeo 8C 2300". Retrieved on 2007-08-16.
  4. Robson, Graham (1982). Triumph Spitfire and GT6. London: Osprey Publishing Ltd, 8. ISBN 0-85045-452-2. 
  5. "Goodbye Standard long live Triumph", Motor: pp. 39–40. 15 May 1976. 
  6. Original Triumph TR, Bill Piggott, ISBN 1-870979-24-9
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Robson, Graham (1982). Triumph Spitfire and GT6. London: Osprey Publishing Ltd, 187. ISBN 0-85045-452-2. 
  8. "The Unofficial Austin-Rover Web Resource".
  9. The Standard Car Review January 1947

External linksEdit

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