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Triumph Mayflower

Published: 29th Feb 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph Mayflower

Fast Facts

  • Engine: 1247cc/4-cyl
  • Power (bhp/rpm): (bhp/rpm) 38/4200
  • Torque (lb ft@rpm): (lb ft@rpm) 58/2000
  • Top speed: 65mph
  • 0-60mph: 23.9sec
  • Fuel consumption: 35mpg
  • Transmission: 3-speed manual
  • Length: 12ft 10in (3.91m)
  • Width (inc mirrors): 5ft 2in (1.57m)
  • Weight: 2016lb (916kg)
  • Books: Triumph: Sport and elegance
    by Bill Piggott. ISBN 1-85960-969-4
  • Clubs: http://tinyurl.com/77t2ev6
  • Websites: The Triumph Mayflower Club.
    http://www.triumphmayflowerclub.com
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When Sir John Black unveiled the Triumph Mayflower in October 1949, he had great ambitions for the car. He reckoned luxurious no longer had to mean large, so this premium small car should prove popular among American buyers as well as British. But by the time the Mayflower arrived, US car makers were churning out much bigger cars at affordable prices which is why just 510 examples were sold in North America, although Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other Commonwealth countries were more enthusiastic. Just 16,395 Mayflowers found owners in the UK though, and most of those have since disappeared. Now, survivors are rare; 34,000 were built but the Triumph Mayflower Club boasts just 140 members worldwide. So be prepared to wait…

Evolution

Between its introduction in October 1949 and its demise in the summer of 1953, there was pretty much no development of the Mayflower, so all examples are basically the same. In October 1951 press-button door handles were introduced and a 3.5Kw heater replaced the previous 2Kw version, but that was it.

Late in 1950 there were 10 dropheads handbuilt by Mulliners, with a view to introducing a convertible Mayflower, but costs proved too high and none of the cars survive. There was also a utility version produced for the Australian market, assembled in Australia. A number of these survive over there but none are in the UK.

What to look for

The Mayflower’s thick panels are durable, but the separate chassis was welded to the bodyshell to create a semi-monocoque, so check the underside carefully. Focus on the sills, wheelarches, door bottoms and wing seams, plus the boot floor, front inner wings and the bottom edge of the boot lid. If there’s any corrosion in the metal around the beading below the rear window, there’ll be much worse rust hidden from view, and it’s a real pain to fix. A variety of repair sections are available, but no complete panels.

Tired engines are common, so look for signs of oil being burned, denoting worn piston rings and/or cylinder bores. Internal corrosion of the alloy cylinder head can be an issue too; be especially wary of cars that have been standing for ages. A clattery top end is also likely, as setting up the tappets properly is a pig of a job. Steering boxes are weak and rebuilds are costly, so make sure there isn’t lots of play; the box wears along with the idler arms, but reconditioned items are available through the club. The TR2-sourced front suspension kingpins wear, so check for play; replacements are readily available.

Some interior and exterior fittings are now very scarce; what’s fitted tends to last well, but the need for some re-chroming is inevitable unless the car has already been restored. Perished window seals can be a problem, but most bits are available quite cheaply.

Values

Because all Mayflowers were built to the same specification, you’re buying according to condition. Few really good cars come up for sale – most of those that change hands are in need of at least some recommissioning, if not a full-scale restoration. Cars that need a lot of work are occasionally given away, but expect to pay up to £250 for something worthwhile. Cars clinging to an MoT can be bought for around £1000, while good examples cost from £1500. Really nice examples fetch anywhere between £2000 and £4000 – but such really good cars come up rarely. That said, given restoration costs it’s wor th paying even slightly over the odds for a really good example.

Driving one

While the cabin isn’t as well appointed as you might think – there’s no wood for example – it’s a pleasant place to be. Space is tight in the back for three, but as a four-seater there’s ample room, although if you load it up too much, that side-valve four is going to have to work very hard.

The Mayflower was built for comfort rather than speed, so while you won’t be blown away by the 65mph top speed and extremely leisurely acceleration, you’ll love the restful ride and refinement while staying legal. The long-stroke engine offers a surprising amount of torque, to the point where you don’t have to change down for hills even if the speed does drop off noticeably. With well-weighted steering and better handling than most contemporaries, thanks to a TR2-like front suspension, the Mayflower is better dynamically than its reputation and appearance would have you believe.



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