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Triumph Vitesse

Triumph Vitesse Published: 3rd Jan 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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A sort of BMW 3 Series in its day, slotting in the Triumph 2000 saloon engine turned the hum-drum Herald into a swift and smooth performer yet just as easy to maintain. Today, a Vitesse costs little more than a Herald to buy and, thanks to classic car insurance, is equally as inexpensive to own and keep but a much nicer car, especially when out and about touring.

Driving

All the good points about the Herald are maintained but there’s lot more performance on tap, so much so that early 2-litre versions were a particular handling handful; something that wasn’t in the main corrected until Mk2 Vitesse of 1968 tamed the waggly tail. Early 1600 versions have rarity and novelty on their side although are not much swifter than a good 13/60 Herald but are beautifully smooth performers – it’s finding one with that engine still fitted that is the challenge. Overdrive turns the Vitesse into a good, very economical tourer while, many have been upgraded with TR6 engines to turn this Triumph into a bit of a hot rod.

Values

You’ll probably pay bit more for an equivalent Vitesse over a Herald but the difference is only around a grand although condition is the main criteria with both models; sheer rarity of the early 1600 keeps values on par with the later, better 2-litre cars – if you can find one. Four thousand is ample to acquire a good, largely rot free 2-litre saloon or an average convertible, which are usually worth up to 50 per cent more due to their desirability. Officially, only a handful of Vitesse estates were ever made by the factory, so watch for fakes (owners’ clubs will verify originality); value one like a convertible as they are now quite sought after – even good DIY conversions left alone the real thing from the factory.

Timeline

1962 Initially a two-door saloon powered by a down-sized Triumph 2000 engine to 70bhp

1966 A convertible is added to the range while engine is now a stock 2-litre for 95bhp

1968 Major revise for ’69 models is similar to GT6 including 104bhp engine tune plus major revision to rear suspension to tame its hairy handling

1971 Final examples that May 1971 after almost 20,000 sales. Interestingly the 1600 outsold 2 litres and saloons were always the best sellers

Best models

2 litre (1968)


With its revised GT6-style rear suspension to help handling, TR5 cylinder head also boosted power for the best model of all; overdrive useful

1600


Smooth but sedate, being barely any quicker than 13/60 but has good classic interest due to model’s rarity. Hard to find original one

Estates


If done well, these make great usable sports hatches, rather like the Scimitar GTE, but smaller. Only handful made by factory

Top five faults

Originality

It’s not unknown to see a saloon converted into a convertible; okay but has to be done properly. Best estate are bodies grafted on Vitesse chassis, not Herald converts.

Corrosion

Chassis rots badly; rails, suspension pickup points (especially the rear) outriggers, floor etc although parts replacements are available as are complete new frames.

Engine

As with most Triumph engines excessive crankshaft end float is a worry. Check for movement at the crank pulley as an aid works the clutch pedal. Cylinder heads known to crack.

Running gear

At the front, trunnions can seize and even result in a wheel falling off! In the same area, check the wishbone bushes for play. Look for weak dampers and worn transverse springs at the stern.

Transmission

An all-round weak spot, especially if driven hard. On Mk2 cars ftted with rotoflex drive couplings, make sure they’re intact – 35,000 miles is as much as you can expect.



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