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Triumph 2000/2500

Published: 24th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph 2000/2500
Triumph 2000/2500
Triumph 2000/2500
Triumph 2000/2500

Buyer Beware

  • Rot is endemic, with facelifted Mk2s (May 1974 on) the most rot-prone of all. The front wings are double-skinned around the wheelarches, creating a water trap.
  • The most common problem is rotten sills and footwells thanks to the drain holes either blocking up or being filled during repairs. The front outriggers under the footwells frequently rot or the windscreen leaking.
  • The rear suspension pick-up points also dissolve, so check although you can get an idea by removing the rear seat and looking at the state of the floorpan.
  • The top spring mountings on the rear suspension can rot and sag, so inspect them, along with the sill closing panel and the inner wheelarch. The engines will do 150,000 although the Mk1 2000s has a tendency to blow head gaskets as studs are too thin to be tightened sufficiently without stretching.
  • Check for end-float in the crankshaft thrust washers by pushing and pulling on the bottom pulley – there should be no more than 0.015” movement. Any detectable movement means the thrust washers have dropped out; the engine will have to be thrown away.
  • The TR4-based manual transmission rarely gives problems, although the gearchange won’t be hurried and the rear layshaft roller bearings can fail. If there’s difficulty selecting first and reverse on a 2500, suspect an aftermarket clutch cover which provides inadequate disengagement.
  • If the overdrive isn’t working properly, it’s usually down to electrical problems or the gearbox being low on oil. Suspect the wire running through the gearlever, along with relays, wiring and connectors.
  • Clonking from the rear suspension indicates wear in one of the six universal joints or (more likely) play in the driveshaft splines. Complete failure is rare, but the rear will get twitchy when accelerating out of corners.
  • New interior trim is extinct, but everything is available used. The door wood cappings suffer from the sunlight – the lacquer cracks and peels and the wood can split.

Fast Facts

  • Driving: 3/5

    Typically 60s saloon that’s best for genteel classic cruising

  • Usability: 3/5

    A good practical daily driver although juicy in town. Estates are great

  • Maintaining: 4/5

    Typically Triumph with good spares availability and fine club support

  • Owning: 4/5

    Easy on the wallet – most will be tax free too. PI woes are curable

  • Value: 4/5

    Cheap for what they offer and there are some real bargains around

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Was the swish and sporty Triumph 2000 and 2500 ranges the BMW 5 Series of their day? Undoubtedly reckons one time owner Robert Couldwell

After buying the bankrupt Triumph Motor Company in 1945, Standard decided in 1950 that Triumph was the more sporting brand and should concentrate on sports cars while Standard should major on staid saloons. In the late fifties Triumph developed the TR range and Standard the Eight, Ten. Pennant, Vanguard, Ensign and Sportsman. Despite this decision the prewar styled Triumph Mayflower small car and 1800/2000/Renown with the quaint razor-edge styling survived until 1955. Things changed again when the time came to replace the Standard Eight and Ten and in 1959 Standard-Triumph decided that Triumph’s more sporting image would help to launch the innovative Herald and the Standard name disappeared by 1963. Standard-Triumph, despite the success of the Herald, was struggling financially big time and was acquired by Leyland Trucks in 1961. Standard-Triumph started to develop a new large car in 1957 but nothing materialised despite a great deal of work on the Zebu concept and the Vanguard was constantly face-lifted finally being fitted with the 2-litre six that subsequently would power the Triumph 2000. The new Leyland management got behind Triumph and the new large saloon and after various false starts the Triumph 2000 was the result and, with the competing Rover 2000 effectively started the executive company car sector, offering Jaguar 2.4 performance, style and panache at rather prosaic Ford Zephyr money. The Triumph 2000 and its various derivatives were highly successful until their demise in the late 1970s (displaced by the expanded Rover SD1 range) and remarkably, considering the cars incredibly short development time (just two years) and manufacturing techniques of the day, many still survive and offer a great opportunity to the classic family daily driver after something with a bit of class.

Which model to buy?

Project ‘barb’ the Triumph 2000 was launched in 1963 and almost immediately went head-to-head with the new Rover 2000 and also one of the first chapters of the amazing BMW recovery story, the 1800 and 2000. These cars were the equivalent of the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series of today and sat above the Austin A60s, Morris Oxfords, Hillman Minxes, Vauxhall Victors and Ford Consuls and just below the MK2 Jaguars. The Rover in its first iteration although highly sophisticated and innovative was rather staid with its new fangled ohc four cylinder engine struggling to give any performance despite excellent roadholding and handling. The Triumph had a much sweeter, albeit older, engine with its extra two cylinders but a less sophisticated chassis. Designed by Italian design house, Michelotti, the Triumph 2000 was launched with a modified 90bhp Standard Vanguard six-cylinder engine with twin Stromberg carburettors and the choice of four-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission. Power steering and overdrive were available as very useful options neither of which were offered on the rival Rover. The first offshoot was the Estate in 1965 which stole a march over the Rover 2000 which never had an official estate version and it’s true to say that with this derivative Triumph very much had the market to itself as swish estates were decades away. In 1968 a detuned version of the fuel injected 2498cc, six from the TR6 was listed and while the power was down from 150 to 132bhp, it was still 46 per cent up on the 2000 with a 31 percent increase in torque. Make no mistake, for its day the 2.5PI was a very fast car
indeed with a maximum speed of 110 mph and 0-60 comfortably under the critical 10 second mark. This was very early days for fuel injection, the 2.5 PI the first saloon car to have it… but it wasn’t terribly reliable. The fuel injection problems were sorted under warranty but the damage was done which was the reason twin carburettors were later fitted to create the 2500 TC and the sportier 2500S. The Mk2 2000/2500 were introduced in late 1969 with new Michelotti-designed front and rear ends which echoed the upmarket Stag that was to soon follow. A new wooden dashboard with full instrumentation was fitted and the car generally modernised; no less than nine inches were added to the car’s length to improve boot space and the rear track was widened to aid the handling.

The 2000 range ran from 1963 to 1977 which is a long run by any standard and in that time there were eight different versions of both saloon and estate 2000, 2.5 PI, 2000 Mk2, 2.5 Mk2, 2000TC, 2500TC, 2500TC Mk2 and 2500S. This suggests that there will be an example to suit all tastes but the classic is surely the 2.5 PI Estate manual/overdrive with that wonderful Michelotti styling, almost Art Deco interior and great practicality. By now the fuel injection should be well and truly sorted and will give this car performance which would give a few modern hot hatches a fright. The 2.5 PI has lower suspension than the others and brakes uprated for the extra performance. One of these in good useable condition should be available for under £4000 making one something of a bargain. Don’t worry if you can’t find one because all the 2000 range will offer a rewarding ownership experience the least powerful giving 100 mph and 0-60 in a sedate but hardly tardy 13.5 seconds which was pretty good for its day. Decent useable versions of the 2000 are still available for under £2000 and of course can always be uprated if you want more performance.

Behind the wheel?

It’s a fine choice for the family driver wanting a bit of class

Back in 1963, this car like its arch-rival the Rover 2000 was a very advanced design – rack and opinion steering, independent suspension with Macpherson struts and coil springs at the front and a semi trailing rear and (which was also grafted on to the TR4A), front disc brakes. It was more softly sprung than the Rover 2000 and BMW which gave a better ride but more roll in corners.Initial understeer was followed by progressive oversteer and the Triumph responded better to a slow in-fast out approach to cornering but could be hustled along quite quickly, certainly quicker than any of its predecessors and its competitors from Ford, Vauxhall, Rootes and Austin-Morris. It is a relaxed car at speed particularly with overdrive and wind noise is low for a car of this period. Steering, unless the power option is specified, is heavy at low speeds although no heavier than similar cars of the day. One tweak that’s recommended is fitting the later 2500S front anti-roll bar as it stops the dreaded 2000 ‘lean’ into corners – made much worse on the longer Mk2 cars – and makes handling more predictable. “One wonders why it as not done before, and why it has been left off the other two cars in the range”, opinioned Autocar in its July 1975 road test on the 2500S. The 2.5 PI as well as all that power had a higher back axle ratio giving an even more relaxed cruising gait plus its lowered suspension did improve cornering to a limited extent.

If you don’t want PI problems (and many were so converted) then go for a 2500TC. While power is quoted considerably down at 99bhp for the 2500TC and 106bhp for the new 2500S, these were the new (DIN) ratings. Besides many feel that the 132bhp quoted for the PI was generous; many Triumph specialists also believe that the original TR5s and early TR6s didn’t kick out a true 150bhp either. In fact, by 1973 Triumph was quoting 120bhp for the PI and only 125bhp for the TR6! In the real world a well-tuned TC engine will match or beat an average PI we reckon. The 2000 (latterly 2000TC) was originally earmarked at 90bhp although a new style GT6/Vitesse cylinder head was developed in 1968 – certainly power crept up during 1974 right across the ranges care of revised breathing. What about Stag power? Well, a handful of cars were so made but nothing came of it. Instead an enterprising Ian Lines (who used to prepare Triumph’s works rally cars) made a batch of them and cracking cars they were too, especially in estate guise. However, far from applauding Mr Lines and his efforts, BL threatened legal action if he persisted!

Ease of Ownership?

A well tuned TC will match or even beat an average PI

Thanks to the fact that these cars share so much with Triumph TR5s and 6s, Vitesses and GT6s there is a plentiful supply of advice and parts at reasonable prices. They are easy to work on with plenty of room around the engine. As in any car of this age, servicing takes a good deal longer than modern cars and it is always worth changing the oil every 2-3000 miles using the correct period oil which tends to have the higher viscosity necessary to compensate for the rather slack tolerances of British engines of this era. The first 2000s were fitted with cross ply tyres and if you require total originality these are still available from specialists like Vintage Tyres and Longstone although you may not like the grip levels! All other variants were shod with radials, 175x13, 185x13 or 174x14 and are all are freely available in today in the high street. There is no difficulty in maintaining these cars in top order although as an investment these Triumphs have some way to go.

The Daily Option?

This is very definitely a daily driver and with some aftermarket seat belts fitted all-round makes a wonderful family classic with the early ones being eligible display at the Goodwood Revival. There is of course the usual proviso; to be used daily throughout the year it is vital that the monocoque underpinnings are fully and properly rust-proofed as these cars come from the era of maximum rot and hassle. Finding any car with overdrive will improve the fuel consumption and provided carburettors or fuel injection are correctly tuned, 25-30mpg is possible on a run with low twenties around town. The early Mk2s will be road tax-free and all will be cheap to insure on classic policies which helps to compensate for economy not up to modern standards. There is a very active owners club the Triumph 2000/25000/2.5 Register ( and when buying one of these cars it is essential to join the club as there is so much expertise and advice among the members. The other great benefit of this type of car is that if there is a breakdown there is a chance that you or a breakdown service can actually repair it at the side of the road rather than rely on relay.



Barb is launched, initially as the 2000 saloon using old Standard engine with twin carbs for 90bhp with optional overdrive or automatic gearbox.


Excellent estate model launched with uprated rear suspension that October plus minor interior revamp the following month.


That July sees the 2.5PI introduced with detuned TR5PI engine (132bhp), sportier suspension and added luxury: £1450 new.


Mk2 range announcedwith longer, restyled body and improved interior. Power steering becomes a 2000 option, alternator now fitted.

May 1974

Simpler 2500TC model (99bhp) joins the range; similar to PI but uses twin SU carbs. Slight styling and interior revise with Stag-like radiator grille.

May 1975

Engine upgrades all round. 2500S new flagship with 106bhp engine and thicker front anti-roll bar plus Stag wheels. Range dropped in 1977.

We Reckon...

Among the TRs and Stags, the 2000/2500 ranges are usually forgotten and yet, as when new, they have a lot to offer, not least six pot smoothness, good cruising ability with family-sized roominess and practicality. And, like all Triumphs, they are a doddle to own and maintain. Their lowly prices are simply icing on the cake.Was this Triumph the BMW 5 Series of its day? Absolutely!

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