Magazine Cover - Classic Cars For Sale - 1000s of Classic Car Reviews, How To Service & Maintenance Guides

Triumph 1300/1500

Triumph 1300/1500 Published: 20th Apr 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph 1300/1500
For their time, the Triumph’s interiors were a real cut above the rest and are still fairly civilised and even feature an adjust For their time, the Triumph’s interiors were a real cut above the rest and are still fairly civilised and even feature an adjust
Engines are all derived from Herald. Crank end float is a common problem Engines are all derived from Herald. Crank end float is a common problem
Frontal treatments differ with single have the nicest interiors in terms headlamps for 1300/Toledo ranges Frontal treatments differ with single have the nicest interiors in terms headlamps for 1300/Toledo ranges
Inner and outer sill rust can be bad and door bottoms crumble away Inner and outer sill rust can be bad and door bottoms crumble away
Front wings rot here and at the front. More worrying is inner wing tin worm Front wings rot here and at the front. More worrying is inner wing tin worm
The latest issue of Classic Cars For Sale is on sale now - Pick up your copy from all good newsagents including WHSmith or click here to subscribe now

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 20%

Subscribe NOW

Available at all good newsagents including WHSmith

What is a Triumph 1300/1500 or Toledo?

A good question, but a complex one to answer. These attractive but sober looking little cars were posh alternatives to Austin 1300s and Ford Escorts, and were sold in a confusing variety of body styles and mechanical configurations, although they all shared a certain endearing, and rather British charm, if not the dash or cachet of their biggerengined Dolomite stablemates.

History

The original 1300, dating from 1965 was a handsome little four-door, styled by Italian design studio Michelotti. Looking like a downsized 2000, it featured an in-line, front-drive power train, a near flat floorpan and a plushly appointed The original 1300, dating from 1965
was a handsome little four-door, styled by Italian design studio Michelotti. Looking like a downsized 2000, it featured an in-line, front-drive power train, a near flat floorpan and a plushly appointed.

When the 1970s dawned Triumph dropped the 1300 badge and gave the car’s hull a major restyle, and began to employ it in a bewildering array of guises.

The Herald-replacing Toledo was the first of this new family. With a spartan interior and drum brakes, this was sold both in four and for the first time two-door guises. Its nose and stubby tail were re-modelled, and confusingly, this car was now rear-wheel driven. Slotting in above that was the 1300’s actual replacement badged the 1500, with another new nose featuring quad headlamps, longer boot, revised rear lamp clusters, bumpers, etc, and an all new very tasteful interior and dash layout.

There were mechanical upgrades, a power hike to 61bhp, and still front drive, even though a derivative of the less space efficient rear drive floor pan was employed for this car, presumably for cost reasons? To complete the model range mish mash, from 1971, this long tailed body was also used in the more powerful, 1850 and Sprint Dolomites, but these were all rear driven.

As the 1970s progressed the Toledo gained front disc brakes, and petered out in about 1976. Its replacement, once again known as the 1300, kept the Toledo’s single square headlamps, but switched to the long-tailed body with rearwheel drive. Meanwhile in 1974 the 1500 ditched its out-on-a-limb front-drive power train, going for the simpler, in line, rear drive set up plus a Spitfire-sourced engine. This was known as the 1500TC. Options now included overdrive. As the 1970s drew to a close, these by now venerable cars were re-christened Dolomite 1300 and 1500, and survived as products of the turbulent British Leyland combine until 1979 – with a few registered the following year.

Driving

All the small engined Triumphs have one thing in common, charm. They’re genteel, civilised and nice to use, with comfortable seats, commanding, upright driving positions, slim pillars for a clear view of the road. The front drive cars have precise, slightly dead steering and moderately floppy gear selectors, worked by a cranked lever.

The rear drive cars effectively make use of the Herald/Spitfire engine and transmission combo, and that makes them very easy and forgiving to drive, with tidy handling. WIth the choice of rear and front drives why not AWD? Well, Triumph toyed with this in 1969 in a special rallycross 1300 and very quick it was too.

The original 1300s probably have the nicest interiors in terms of quality, but all of them are comfortable and reasonably roomy. None are balls of fire performance wise, although the TC 1300s and later 1500s are probably the most user friendly, whilst overdrive equipped examples of the more common rear drive models are the ones to go for today if you want to keep pace with traffic in peace.

Prices

Go back a decade and these cars were still common sites on the road. No longer. A mix of old age, lack of wider classic cachet, and in the case of the rear drive versions, lots of parts that could be appropriated for the more collectable Dolomite Sprints, Spitfires and Heralds (viz, overdrive units) has seen a steep decline in numbers, but without a corresponding increase in values.

Ironically the most collectable versions were the most basic when new. Toledos are now thin on the ground, and good ones can fetch £1200 plus. Scruffy 1300s and 1500 are worth a couple of hundred quid, decent ones go for about £500/£600, whilst even immaculate ones struggle to make four figures. These cars were much favoured by older, retired drivers, and it’s still possible to find cherished, low mileage cars for well under a grand if you look hard enough.

What To Look For

  • Front drive versions are prone to inner wing rot, according to Club Triumph’s Yogi Gay and the unique front suspension turret box sections are also rust traps (look for a nose-down stance signifying that the chassis may have settled). Rear drivers have different suspension turrets and plastic inner wing guards.
  • Universal foibles include sill, wing (lower regions), and boot floor rot. Petrol tanks can suffer too. Look for A pillar rot, as rather scandalously, these bodies weren’t dipped in corrosion inhibitors, so hollow sections like these can rust from the inside out. Expect to find past evidence of repairs.
  • Mechanically, the front drive versions are robust, but the original 1300’s gearboxes are weaker. Drive shaft splines can strip and if the Rotaflex rubber driveshaft couplings fail at the transmission ends they are “a pain to fix,” and will involve completely stripping out the drive shaft, mucking about with the hub assemblies and working in a confined space. So listen for clicking when full steering lock is applied like old Minis.
  • Front driven 1500s have many upgraded parts, but mechanical interchangability between this car and the 1300 is surprisingly limited. Viz, the earlier car had neat, aluminium trailing arms for the independent rear suspension, and an exhaust that ran up the centre of its sub structure. The 1500 features trailing arms, a beam axle and a re-sited exhaust for example.
  • Other rear drive trouble spots include uncertain road manners on examples with tired rear suspension bushes. Jacking a car up and having a good poke about is highly recommended.
  • Engine-wise all 1300/1500s are tough, although crank end float can be a problem (as on most Triumphs), and these engines can leak oil. Have an aid depress the clutch while you watch the crank’s pulley move. A repair means a full engine strip down.
  • On front drive 1300s the starter motor ring gear can fling this around and make quite a mess in the engine bay. Fixing the problem involves yanking off the starter ring to get to the offending oil seal. Not a fun job at all we’re told.
  • According to Canley Classics the biggest problem is finding good cars as many 1500s have been sacrificed to make good old Dolomite and Sprints. Due to their lack of popularity they don’t enjoy the same spares back up as other Triumphs either and are highly unlikely to boast anything other than novelty value

Verdict

If you’re looking for an affordable fun starter classic, or an entertaining older daily driver, these cars make a lot of sense, although the later, rear driven versions are probably the most use- friendly thanks to greater parts availability and ease of repair. It’s unlikely these cars will ever reach the collectable status of the Herald or Dolomite Sprint, but that doesn’t stop the forgotten plain 1300/1500s being fun, different and rather nice.



User Comments

This review has 0 comments - Be the first!

Leave a comment

Keep it polite and on topic. Your email address will not be published. Please do not advertise products, all posts of this nature will be removed. We do not stock or supply any of these products, we independently review these products.

Latest Issue Cover - Click here to subscribe

Subscribe to Classic Motoring Magazine and save over 25%

Subscribe