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Triumph Vitesse

Triumph Vitesse Published: 30th Aug 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph Vitesse
Triumph Vitesse
Triumph Vitesse
Triumph Vitesse
Triumph Vitesse
Triumph Vitesse
Triumph Vitesse
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Robert Couldwell starts to sort out his highly usable and versatile Vitesse CAR: Triumph Vitesse YEAR: 1969 OWNER: Robert Couldwell

After the first trip out when she ‘who must be obeyed’ complained of the car’s general noise level, I purchased Silent Coat sound deadening sheets, which are self-adhesive and made from 2mm butyl rubber visco elastic polymer backed with aluminium foil. These are 187mm x 265mm and I found them very easy to apply to the front floors, bulkheads and transmission tunnel. I also refitted the transmission tunnel with a new gasket. What a difference it all made, the car is so much quieter now – honest.

VYO 150G spent most of the winter in Dangerous Dave’s garage awaiting his attentions on the rust residing either side of the boot opening and the fitting of a brake servo and alternator. Needless to say, the rust was worse than expected but Dave eventually cut it all out and fashioned new pieces of steel to weld in with great skill.

Servo no go

Finally, it was finished and Dave had made a remarkable job. The alternator was also fitted but the servo seemed to faze Dave as he couldn’t work out where to put it. In my naivety I had assumed it was a straightforward job as the Vitesse I owned in the early 1970s had one fitted. At least I now had possession of the car again and initially considered leaving the brakes as they were but with so many modern cars now fitted with ABS etc, it seemed important to have the best stopping power available (see our Kerbside feature in last month’s issue-ed).

After some lengthy research, I discovered a Triumph specialist, Southern Triumph Services in Southbourne, which is near Bournemouth. Sure enough, Mark Swingler, one of the proprietors, had fitted loads of servos to Vitesses and he explained the complications. I could then understand why Dangerous was baffled as the servo fitment is not at all straightforward, requiring re-routing the heater pipes as well as modifications to the brake and clutch cylinders and pipework.

A couple of days before I was due to take the car to Bournemouth I discovered the wipers weren’t working and I could find no obvious reason. A quick order was placed at Amazon for some Rain X just in case it was raining on my way to sunny Bournemouth. Sure enough it did rain and the Rain X worked a treat. So the wipers were another job for Mark.

I dropped the car off at Southern Triumph and returned on the train having asked Mark to fit a combined water temperature and oil pressure gauge which I had acquired. The original water temperature gauge didn’t work and there was no oil pressure gauge. These are two must-have gauges on any old car, I feel.

When it rains, it pours!

Needless to say, there were other problems and Mark called to say a spigot on the heater matrix had been bodged at some time in the past and he needed to remove it to solder an extension to refit the water pipe.

The wipers also proved problematic as the passenger side wheel box was shot and new ones are not available. Fortunately, Mark had a used one in his store.

Accessing the box required removing the dashboard. To replace the clutch pipe, Mark had also to remove the transmission tunnel and while it was off, he noticed the gear lever bushes were badly worn and replaced them, too – the list goes on.

Mark also noticed a front shock absorber leak and we decided to replace the pair but during their replacement, it was apparent the spring top plates were worn, one very badly, so they also had to be replaced at the same time.

Eagle-eyed Mark also noticed the full flow oil filter conversion was fitted upside down(!) and resolved that; it is something that I should have noticed to be fair!
One mystery was that when the car was on jacked up, once on the workshop ramp, with the wheels hanging down as they are intended to, the nearside Rotoflex joint was fouling the wishbone meaning Mark had to grind some steel off to sort it. Finally, he noticed the off side rear wire wheel spline was worn so yet another replacement… So much for a simple wiper fix and servo sort out, but that’s life with old cars, isn’t it?

I finally took the train to collect my car and thanks to the closure of the A31 owing to an accident, I had a lovely journey home through the New Forest, hood down in brilliant sunshine, which made me feel much better. The car ran like a bird, cruising happily at the legal limit on the M27! Also, the brakes were much better all round and fully justified the cost of fitting the servo unit.

At least there was some good news; Mark reckoned the car was a good example and worth something over £11,000 so despite the expenditure, I stand to make a reasonable profit if I sell it. I have, actually, grown very fond of the old thing which goes well, easily keeping up with the traffic, has lovely light, direct steering, a very compliant ride and excellent road holding, and now you can add good brakes. It is also cheap to insure and run, has a good owners’ club, pretty good parts back-up and attracts a lot of positive attention. I might just keep it – I don’t need the money just yet which was some of the profit on the sale of my Jaguar XK, and all I would get from a bank or building society is about one measly percent. I might as well keep the Triumph which will probably appreciate by ten percent per year.


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