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Bond Equipe

Bond Equipe Published: 29th May 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Bond Equipe
Bond Equipe
Bond Equipe
Bond Equipe
Bond Equipe
Bond Equipe
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Specialist reshell of popular Triumphs make great classic buys

WHAT’S BEST VITESSE OR BOND EQUIPE?

You’re right, they are the same car, with the latter being a specialist re-body of that popular Triumph either as a coupé or convertible. The Bond Equipe was far more exclusive when new yet prices are now broadly similar, meaning that if you can find one they make a good value and rare sporting classic.

HOW DID THE BONDS COME ABOUT?

The Equipe was born more than 50 years ago when three-wheeler car maker Lawrie Bond put an 1147cc Spitfire engine into a Herald chassis, then wrapped it all in his own bodywork to form the GT 2+2 (see pic). The GT4S was a revamp for 1967 when the car gained the Mk3 Spitfire engine while another difference with the GT4S was its better quad headlamp design. It stayed in production until 1970.

I’M THINKING OF THE LATER 2-LITRE…

Many do because it turned this stylish Bond into a speedy yet smooth operator. The six-cylinder Vitesse engine only made its appearance in the 2-litre Equipe GT when launched in August 1967, a year after this ‘big’ six first saw service in the Vitesse.

THEY DIDN’T LAST LONG DID THEY!

Sadly not. Whilst on the surface all seemed well, there were problems in the background that proved insurmountable for Bond as a going concern. Various deals were going on which meant that Lawrie Bond had to sell up, appropriately to fellow threewheeler Reliant. Also the newly formed BLMC combine deemed fit to put a stop to Triumph dealing with an outside competitor. Also from a practical point, as Jaguar, Rover and Triumph now had to share dealerships there was just no room for a Bond Equipe in the showrooms anymore while Reliant’s dealing with Ford for its engines and transmissions hardly helped politically. Without such dealer access anymore the Equipe was on death row and died in 1970 although some cars remained unregistered until well into 1971.

WHAT DRIVES BEST?

Equipes drive pretty much like the Herald and Vitesse they are based upon and they received similar updates, especially to the rear suspension layout. However, due to the car’s body (which some thought had too much overhang compared to the Triumph) 155 x13 section tyres were about the largest which could be used without fouling the Vitesse-style wheelarches, which limits the Bond’s mediocre roadholding.

Although the Bond relied upon part GRP in its construction, the weight advantage over the Triumphs were minimal (all around 920kg) so performance remained pretty much unchanged. Like the Triumphs, overdrive was period option and is well worth having to aid dispatching faster roads.

BEST BOND BUYS?

It depends if you like the lighter, zestier feel of a Spitfire engine up front or the lustier Vitesse lump doing its work. One magazine at the time suggested that the reason why Triumph was so keen to sell Bonds in its dealerships was because the latter’s models cheaply filled in the gaps the Canley crowd couldn’t afford to market!

When the GT was introduced in ’63, Bond hailed it ‘the most beautiful car in the world’ which was stretching the part somewhat while the square 2-litre variant looks a bit under-tyred for its body. Anyway, all look nicer in their convertible forms we reckon. Two estates were made by owners.

SO HOW CHEAP ARE THEY TO BUY?

As Bonds are based upon two of the least expensive Triumphs (in classic terms anyway), Equipes are equally good value, if anything being slightly cheaper than a corresponding Vitesse saloon or convertible, although the rarity of the Bonds should hold them in better stead for the future. Expect to pay £5-6000 for a premium Bond, especially the 2-litre with good ones around the £3000 mark. Just under 1450 2-litre versions were made against 2949 Spitfire-powered cars and some 130 remain thanks to its easy-to-fix Triumph make up.

SO THEY’RE EASY TO KEEP GOING?

Yes and that’s the real beauty of a Bond. Parts for the oily bits are readily available from an army of Triumph specialists, owners’ clubs and autojumbles and specialists plus you can repair or even renew the Triumph chassis frames if you wish – although may have issues with certain body parts (particularly those large bonnets) but the owners’ club can help. Guy Singleton via .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on 01672 514241 is worth knowing. He told us that brand loyalty is high and good cars don’t come on to the market that often, so if you see one for sale get in quick if it suits you.

SHARED PARTS?

Much of the car is Triumph-based, but some from other models, such as Herald estate petrol tanks, Triumph 2000 air intake ram, Spitfire exterior door handles, Triumph 1300 rear bumpers and modified GT6 seats. The doors on early cars were Bond’s own, fitted to Herald frames plus the 2-Litre also uses Vauxhall Cresta tail lights.

THE USUAL TRIUMPH TROUBLES I SUPPOSE?

Essentially yes. Chassis rot, along with past repairs, is the main concern but at least part repair sections and even new or restored frames can be sourced, which may be the best option if things are too far gone – certainly if major surgery is needed it’s best done with the body removed; the rear outriggers are boned to the boot floor on certain models. The glassfibre shell was of fair quality so should have survived well; as a result just look for the usual ‘cobweb’ damage.

AND THE ENGINES?

There’s no real worries here. Both engines are sturdy and their only common ailments are excessive (tappet and timing chain) noise and smoke when worn plus also excessive crankshaft end movement caused by failing thrust washers. You check this by having an aid depress the clutch while watching the crank pulley move. Anything in excess of 0.015 inch of play, or you hear a clonk, may require new or oversized washers and probably a complete strip to fit them.

AND THE REST?

Front suspension trunnion wear is well known – they need to be kept well lubricated. At the rear check the rear suspension and the drivetrain for wear and the rear spring for settling. It’s a good sign to see a suspension conversion already fitted to improve the iffy handling. Spares shouldn’t become a problem as they mirror their equivalent Triumphs.

GO ON THEN, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE?

Thanks for putting us on the spot! Obviously as we are dealing with old cars it’s hard to directly compare, but like-for-like, the Triumph feels the more solid although both invariably suffer from assorted creaks and groans that you’ll spend a month of Sundays trying to track down. Looks are subjective and you either like the looks of these Bonds better or not. Being much rarer, Equipes are more select yet prices don’t reflect this. Whether they will over time is debatable but we think they will. So overall, we’d buy premium Bonds and reckon we’re on to a winner!



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