The Triumph Herald
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6 May 2015
The Triumph Herald was designed by the Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti after a frustrating series of false starts by the Standard-Triumph design team in England and became an instant success when launched in 1959. Like all British cars of the period it was basic family motoring but with the added Italian flair and style which makes it so appealing today. Due to the fact that steel was still in short supply after the war and most cars were for the export market, the retrograde step of using a separate chassis and bolting on the relevant body styles was not only a financial success but a tremendous advantage to restorers forty years later. The original engine was 948cc with a single Solex carb although twin-SU carb variants were available. The 948 was available as a saloon and convertible, and with an amazing turning circle and superb engine access, due to the forward-hinging front end, became a hit from the outset. From 1962 the engine was upgraded to 1200 (1147) cc and the range gained an Estate model, with the familiar wooden dashboard becoming standard. In 1967 Michelotti restyled the front end to a more sloping, modern look, with the dashboard gaining two dials and the engine being enlarged to 1297cc in what became known as the 13/60. The Herald range continued until 1970. If you're buying one, remember that with such a range of variants many will have been upgraded or retrofitted with whatever spare parts are available at the time: Spitfire, Dolomite or Toledo engines, variations of gearbox or differential, or wheels. Many Heralds benefit from bigger faster engines, as in the Spitfire 1500 engine which is a straight-fit replacement, but make sure the brakes are up to the job. The chassis differs between the early Mk1 cars up to around 1961 and the later Mk2 from 1962 onwards; early chassis are considered weaker than later versions so be aware of stress cracks. The body will lift off the chassis in two sections making repair simple, but also allows for modification of models so if buying a Herald, particularly the convertible, make sure it's a genuine version and not a replacement rear tub added to a saloon. Also remember: contrary to what is claimed by sellers on eBay you CANNOT simply unbolt a saloon roof to make a convertible. It's dangerous - proper convertibles had strengthened rear bodyshells to compensate for the lack of a roof as well as other built-in safety features. Sadly as with all cars, rust is a killer so check the floors - most if not all panels are readily available and as with the Mini the exposed seams make welding new panels a doddle. The twin-girder chassis is the backbone of the car and while the outriggers are replaceable the main rails are no longer available. Check around the dip under the differential where water collects inside the box section. All mechanical parts are simple to work on, and remember to fill the steering trunnions every year with EP90 gear oil - NOT GREASE! The Herald is a simple, cheap and amazingly fun car which can be a joy to own, and with a top speed of around 80mph it's practical for all but long-distance commuting. Overdrive is a bonus - effectively six gears - and with a long list of variations and upgrades readily available you can have a stylish, cheap and fun summer car for next to nothing - and they're all tax-exempt too!
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