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Triumph 2000/2500

Published: 22nd Sep 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph 2000/2500
Triumph 2000/2500
Triumph 2000/2500
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If you wanted a quality name with six pot power, then only Triumph’s 2000 could oblige

Even the new Rover SD1 used a Triumph-derived straight six

Today, a car’s badge says everything about you, with marketing men doing as much as possible to sell you a ‘lifestyle’ rather than a car. However, back in the 1960s,a simple number was all that was needed to excite motorists, especially the magic number 2000. Two-litre power, not GTi, was the thing to have back then, and even the likes of Ford and Vauxhall got in on the act with the Corsair 2000E and the stylish Victor 2000 respectively. However the king of them all was arguably the Triumph 2000.

Why? Because it boasted a beefy 90bhp six pack, against its rival’s quartet of respirators, giving a level of smoothness if not speed no competitor matched. Not bad for a luxury saloon that was developed in record time, to save Triumph from oblivion.Project ‘Barb’ went from drawing board to showroom in two years, to quickly build on the back of the success the Herald had enjoyed, plus to provide the blueprint for the company’s smaller upper-crust saloons; 1300/1500 and Dolomite. Standard may have bought the ailing Triumph company after WW2, but by the 1960s the stuffy Standard name was now a liability and a new car to replace the stodgy, if sound, Standard Vanguard was desperately needed to serve the vibrant new executive market.

At the time, Triumph and Rover were fi erce prestige rivals and, while the P6 from Solihull took all the plaudits for its sophistication back in 1963, the Canley product offered things the Rover never did like overdrive, six pot power and an estate version. Also, that old Standard Vanguard straight six gave the Triumph a smoothness and fl exibility the Rover only gained went it went for a full-fat V8. Not that the Triumph 2000 was antiquated. Michelotti’s tidy styling hid a sophisticated independent rear that worked far better here than it did on the TR4A, and Barb was one of the few mid-sized cars to offer such luxuries as power steering. And, what about those dainty parking lights affi xed to the centre door pillars?

In 1969 Triumph’s favourite designer had a second go at the now aging design, giving it a squarer look and adding a whopping nine inches to the length, for added boot space but on the saloon only. This meant that the Triumph was the only car where the estate was smaller than the saloon it was derived from! After Triumph ditched the PI system in the mid 70s, for faithful twin Stromberg carbs, to become the 2500TC, revisions to the ranges were scant. By now British Leyland wanted to combine Rover and Triumph and saw the 2300/2600 SD1 as the logical replacement, which to be fair it was. This fi nal version slipped below the V8 model and used a new ohc straight six that was closely linked to the faithful old Triumph engine, except that it wasn’t half as reliable as that old sturdy Vanguard lump!

The 2000/2500 was phased out after 15 years of, as Motor put it, “on the whole sound, comfortable and agreeable transport”. The Triumph name was in decline again and the Dolomite and Spitfi re ranges were dropped by 1981, leaving only the unloved TR7 to keep the fl ag fl ying, before the Acclaim saloon came along.

A hit for six

With well over a quarter of a million made, the 2000 made a good, popular second-hand buy, offering Cortina GT pace with the luxury of a Jag, yet costing about the same to buy and run as the Ford. And that’s what made the Triumph so liked during the 1970s and 80s. Here was a prestige car that provided that bit extra over a Ford or Vauxhall but still returned over 25mpg and didn’t have the insurance hassle of a Vitesse or GT6 either. Unlike the rival Rover, the simplicity of the 2000’s make up ensured there were few nasty surprises for the DIY chap, unlike the P6’sohc tappet shims and those inboard rear brakes for example. So long as you stayed away from the quick but quirky 2.5PI that is. The estates were in a class of their own, quite literally, as there were few competitors who believed in a need for a prestige holdall. Indeed, it was BMW that came the nearest, decades later, with the 5 Series Touring.

It’s only lately that the 2000 (and the 2.5 PI) actually started to be appreciated for their many qualities by classic car fans, although by then most had been scrapped. It’s still one of the few ‘60s cars that can genuinely cut it as a daily driver and it’s a car that’s certainly more dependable and likable than the six pot Rover SD1s that replaced it in the late 70s. Comparisons with the P6, also launched in 1963, were inevitable, and they sold similar numbers, but appealed to a different buying base. The Rover was more the younger enthusiasts’ car, whereas the Triumph was much roomier (especially the boot), smoother and more usable – ideal company manager transportation, with a reputation to uphold.

Apart from the untrustworthy PI, the 2000 was never quick but could always be relied on to cruise in the 85-90 region easily, and economically, if overdrive was fi tted. And, unlike the Rover 2000, automatic transmission alternatives weren’t half so sluggish as to be considered ‘dangerous‘, by one major motoring weekly. The Triumph name lived on with the Acclaim, a straight-laced entirely decent rebadged Honda saloon that did its intended job (saving BL!), but if you wanted a true replacement for the real Triumph you had to look to the German brands which took the concept of the 2000 and, over the decades, developed the compact executive car to the excellence it is today.

When The Car Was The Star

One of the best 2000 scenes on the screen is also one of the saddest; the CID Mk1 saloon wrecked in the chase sequence in the Sweeney episode Poppy. 2500 Mk2 police cars made regular appearances in early editions of The Professionals. On the other side of the law Joss Ackland’s duo-toned ’64 model is used in the pivotal heist scene in the great 1971 crime fi lm Villain and the fi endish Nigel Patrick uses a Mk2 2000 Estate in Tales From the Crypt. But the prize in the ‘Best Triumph in Dire British B-Film’ category has to go to the 2.5 PI Mk.2 which out-acts Richard Burton in The Medusa Touch.

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