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Triumph Company History

Published: 14th Dec 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Triumph was always in some degree of trouble through its life. Loved for its upmarket saloons and sports cars, yet even before the WW2v it was struggling to survive. Founded in 1923 as a car maker, but Triumph was more famous for its motorcycles, the two outfits splitting in 1936 before the car manufacturer went into receivership in 1939.

After the war Triumph had to choice but to accept the paltry £75,000 buy out from The Standard Motor Company but even this proved to be a false dawn. After commercial vehicle maker Leyland took over Standard- Triumph in 1961 it had to put the workers on short time and slash production until the books balanced.

Leyland turned Triumph around and by the mid 1960s it was the British BMW of its day and the darling of the growing car giant (to the detriment of MG) but the good times were to be short lived. By 1967 Leyland had gobbled up both Jaguar and Rover and it was obvious that these once three rivals couldn’t compete against each other anymore. In many ways, the fate of Triumph was effectively sealed in 1968 when it was decided to ditch its most advanced car – the impressive 1300 – and turn a ship into a raft. Compact, luxurious and front-wheel drive, the 1300 was launched in 1965 to initially replace the Herald although it was too expensive to do that. But the 1300 had all the ingredients to form the basis of the modern car… except Leyland wanted to make Triumph a sports car maker so that resolutely meant rear wheel drive.

So come 1970 and there was an absurd mish-mash of models; rwd Toledo yet a larger fwd 1500, followed by the Dolomite of 1972 – the last real Triumph saloon. By this time front-wheel drive was the thing to have just as Triumph got shot of it! The once excellent sports car range also floundered around this time. The Stag was soon nick-name ‘Snag’ due to its dire unreliability and was soon dropped from the vital US market, while US legislation wrong-footed Triumph into producing the meek and mild TR7 coupe. Come the late ‘70s Triumph’s ranges looked outdated and outmoded – and with bankrupt British Leyland under Government control, savage cuts and sacrifices were made. When Maggie Thatcher swept to power she installed tough no nonsense Michael Edwardes to sort out the mess and Triumph was given one last chance with the rebadged, British-made Honda Ballade in 1981. Called the Triumph Acclaim it was a compact, well made, entirely decent 1.3-litre front-wheel drive saloon… Just the sort of car the company made two decades before!

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