Triumph Automobiles Essay, Research Paper
Imagine for a moment; Driving down the road on a hot summers day with the top down, wind blowing, clear field of vision all the way around. The feeling is freedom. A Triumph is a great car to own because it is fun to drive, it looks great and it is the type of car that not many people have, so you can drive an individual car and drive it with style. They handle great, go reasonably fast and it is not extremely hard to modify one to make it even better. A Triumph is definitely one of my favorite cars. In 1952 Triumph began working on its new run of cars not knowing that this would be the company s all time high in car model production. At first the cars weren t the most popular, falling short of the MG TD and the Jaguar XK 120, but as time went by Triumph excelled with the TR car line. The cars that made up the TR car line were: The TR-2, TR-3, TR-4, TR-5/TR-250, TR-6, TR-7, and the TR8. These seven unique cars have gained in popularity across the world for their style, uniqueness, and finesse. Now groups dedicated to preserving and enjoying the cars are quite numerous. This paper is going to discuss the history, the highs and lows, of the TR car line from start to finish, and the influence of the US market on English sports car manufacturers. The TR line was started when the chairman of Triumph, Sir John Black, was impressed with the sales of the MG TD and Jaguars XK 120 in the USA. The TR series of sports cars grew from the modest origins of an essentially pre-war saloon car chassis with a beefy engine destined to power a tractor (Piggott 8). Determined to join in on this profitable market, Triumph designed the TRX. It was not a very graceful looking creation, and it was expensive to make, its most sporting feature was a soft top. At the end of 1950 Sir John Black was persuaded to not go on with it. As the TRX died Sir John considered another plan of attack. Triumph was already supplying engines to Morgan for use in their cars, why should they not buy the company and sell its products in the US market? Morgan declined their offer of a take over. It seemed that Triumph should have another go with developing their own sports car. The plan was simple, create a car that uses as many parts from cars that we currently have in production and integrate with a newly created body. The prototype car was known as the 20TS. Sir John Black wanted the performance and handling tested so he asked Ken Richardson, former Grand Prix car designer, to test Triumph s car. He expressed that he was disappointed with the cars handling; Sir John Black promptly offered him a job on the design team to make the necessary changes. The changes proposed were to make the chassis stiffer and to increase the power from the 75 horse power of the prototype s to 90 horse power. After the redesign of the prototype the car was called the TR2 (Piggott 12). The TR-2 was designed as a competitor for the Jaguar XK120 and MG s MG TD. It was a stylish two seater that was low in price and offered good performance and economy. The car was powered by a four cylinder two liter engine. Its maximum speed was 103mph with the optional overdrive. Press and public response were all positive, but production took time. Sales in the USA were not as great as Triumph had hoped for and sales pretty much collapsed in 1955. Alick Dick who replaced Sir John Black in 1954 was determined that the TR would do better. The TR-2 remained in production only two years before it was replaced. 8,628 were produced (Taylor 25). The car that replaced it was known as the TR-3. It wasn t radically different; the styling had been minutely changed and its power and performance had been improved on. They did something right because this model was hugely successful, 13,377 were produced (Taylor 33). This vehicle also remained in production for only two years, after that it was replaced with an updated model. Changes in the body made it easy to discern from the TR-2, the grill was now at the mouth of the air intake rather than being recessed, and chrome piping was fitted between the body and fenders. Many were also fitted with the rear seat option, which was little more than a joke, although it might have persuaded buyers with young children. Production of the next car began in 1957. This car was to be known as the TR-3A. The first deliveries were made to the US market, which shows how dependent Triumph had become on transatlantic sale. The TR3A had a wider grill than the previous, side marker lamps at each end of the grille, and also offered as a standard, locking door handles that were previously only offered on the TR-3 GT kit. This showed that the market was now interested in these type of refinements because mechanically, the car was unchanged. Sales boomed; in the three years of the cars production 58,236 were produced (Taylor 44). Enormous sales non-withstanding, Triumph was in deep financial trouble by the end of 1961. Production of the car was temporarily put on hold; the company needed help fast. They found the help they needed in the form of Leyland Motors. The TR-4 was the turning point in TR history. It made a break with traditional body style of the previous TR-2s and 3s. The restyled body was longer, wider, and heavier than the TR-3s. All of this was the work of Giovani Michelotti, an Italian design consultant. It was notable for its blended fenders rather than the clearly defined fenders of it s predecessors, it had roll up windows rather than detachable side screens, and a much more spacious interior. It even had a new style of hard top known as a surrey top (A surrey top consisted of a wrap around rear window and a detachable roof). The basic chassis remained the same as the one on the earlier cars, but the mechanical specification and running gear changed significantly. The cam and lever type steering of the previous cars was replaced by a much better rack and pinion system, and it got a new and better syncromesh transmission. The 2.2 liter engine put out 100hp but still had a 102mph top speed, around that of its predecessors due to the cars weight. Between 1961 and 1964, 40,253 TR-4s were produced (Taylor 61). At the beginning of 1965 the TR-4A was introduced. The plan behind the TR-4A was to beat the competition with technology. The TR s two main competitors the MGB and the Sunbeam Alpine did not use independent rear suspension, Triumph had been using this feature in its cars since 1959 in the Herald. Triumph figured if they added this feature to the flagship of their sports car line they couldn t be beat in the market place. The entire chassis was redesigned for 1965 to include semi trailing arm independent rear suspension with coil springs and lever arm shock absorbers. There was however a monetary penalty for this addition. In the US triumph dealers were unwilling to pass this on to their customers so a special US-only TR-4A was designed. This one was leaf sprung without dampers, it was a part of the new chassis though. The all independent was available, but for an extra cost. Other mechanical changes were few, a new twin pipe exhaust which helped to get more power out of the old 2.2 litre engine, and a new camshaft. To distinguish the new model from the old model a new grill was added along with IRS badging (independent rear suspension) and new turn signal flashers on the front fenders. Interior changes were also few; the back seat was removed, the dash was finished in wood rather than painted sheet metal, and the handbrake was relocated from the side to the top of the transmission tunnel. 28,465 of the TR-4A were manufactured (Taylor 72). The TR-4A still wasn t as popular as the TR-4, which wasn t as popular as the TR-3A. It was quite clear that triumph would have to something more radical to catch the customers attention.
The TR-4 s body had been updated, and the TR-4A s suspension was updated, and in 1968 it was performance s turn. The TR-5 had a six cylinder 2.5litre engine with Lucas mechanical fuel injection. This produced an astounding 150hp and a top speed of 120mph. Unfortunately for the US market, the TR-5 didn t meet with the new US emissions laws, so the US got a carbureted version of the TR-5. The subtraction of the Lucas fuel injection completely nullified the increase of engine size. Triumph thought it was so radically different they gave it a new model name, the TR-250. Because of new US safety regulations for 1968, changes were made to both car models instead of the US only model. Most of these changes affected only the interiors of the cars. They received padded steering wheels, padding around the corners of dashboards, switches, door handles, and window winders all got softer or were padded. All these safety measures increased the price and that was passed on to the customer. Triumph made some changes to the TR-4a body which the TR-5 and TR-250 were built on. Triumphs management decided a restyle was in order. The cars were given racing stripes across the hood of the car, a heater was standard equipment at last, and gaudy rostyle wheel covers were standard. Production halted, the car was in production for only 15 months, from 1967-1968. The US market s importance to Triumph can be seen by all the changes they made for the US and that more than three times as many TR-250s were sent to the US as to how many TR-5s were prepared for the UK. There were 2,947 TR-5s made. 8,484 TR-250s were manufactured for the US (Taylor 87) . The TR-6 was the last real Triumph sports car for its successors all had uni-body (body and chassis are welded together). Production started in 1969 and lasted until 1976, during which 94,619 TR-6s were built. Staggeringly, 91 percent of the TR-6 production was exported from Britain (Kimberly 1). The US got the same engine as was in the TR-250, everybody else got a fuel injected version. The restyle would have gone again to Michelotti, but (he was a regular style consultant) and was busy on other projects. Instead the restyle went to Karmann of Osnabruck, best known for its work with Volkswagen, Porsche, and BMW. Karmann was consulted for a quick rejuvenating process, and the result is a kind of smoothed-out TR with fashionable and effective use of matte black for the radiator grille and undercut tail panel (Robson 110). The restyle wasn t all Karmann s work though. Triumph incorporated a squared off Kamm rear end from an unrelated Michelotti design. The TR-6 never really had any great changes made to it. In 1968 the cheesy rostyle wheel was dropped in favor of the dished perforated steel wheels, and the windshield frame was painted black to make the windshield appear larger.The next change came in mid-1971 when the transmission was replaced with the better Stag(the Stag was a beefy engined Triumph Coupe)gearbox. In 1974 a new camshaft was added to help stop the problem of lumpy idle. My favorite revision came in 1973 when the rear fender TR-6 decal was replaced with the Union Jack TR-6 decal. In 1973 the chrome bumpers were broken with rubber overriders on both front and rear bumpers. In 1975 Triumph started producing the TR-7. This car upset a lot of people. It had a lot of little things that people didn t agree with like: uni-body construction, it had reverted to the four cylinder engine, and it didn t have the traditional rounded lines of the previous cars. The real crime to most consumers was that it had broken the series of a long line of convertibles by not offering this car as a convertible. The TR-7 had been designed as a coupe because Triumph foresaw possible US regulations banning convertibles. Yet as it turned out the law was never passed. The TR-7 was built at Triumphs new factory in Speke, England, a plant that was plagued with labor problems from the beginning. The quality of many of the earlier cars was not very good, and it did nothing for the TR-7s reputation. The TR-7 was by no means a bad car, and today it still has a strong following. It even outsold the TR-6 by 18,000! But just as public opinion of the TR-7 turned positive, with the introduction of the TR-7 convertible, British Leyland stopped the production of the TR-7 in 1981. The TR-8 was supposed to be a companion model to the TR-7. The vehicle was designed to have a 3.5 liter V-8 Rover engine. With 155hp on call, this car would be the real successor to the 150hp PI (Petrol Injection, the English term for fuel injection) TR-6. It should have become available to the US market in 1978 but a strike at the Speke plant, of bad labor fame, halted the production. It did enter production in 1980 with the convertible model and ready for the US emissions protocols, but in 1981 after just 2,715 had been turned out British Leyland Stopped production of the car (Taylor 128). The TR-8 is one of the most highly prized Triumphs on the road now. It offers great performance along with the style of theTR-7. The TR-8 remains the rarest of the TR family. In 1952 Triumph began working on its new run of cars not knowing that this would be the company s all time high in car model production. At first the cars weren t the most popular, falling short of the MG TD and the Jaguar XK 120, but as time went by Triumph excelled with the TR car line. The cars that made up the TR car line were: The TR-2, TR-3, TR-4, TR-5/TR-250, TR-6, TR-7, and the TR8. These seven unique cars have gained in popularity across the world for their style, uniqueness, and finesse. Now groups dedicated to preserving and enjoying the cars are quite numerous. Between 1952 and 1981 triumph had a line of cars known as the TR, seven cars made up this group. During the production of these cars Triumph went through a lot of high points and low points, just like any other manufacturer. Triumph was also heavily influenced by the American market, every car they made had been specifically designed for the American market. These seven Triumphs have influenced the growth of the sports car and its popularity, they were popular then and they continue to grow in popularity. Triumph outdid itself with the TR. If it hadn t been for America s insatiable lust for sports cars, the English sports car would never have been what it is. To this day the Triumph still has a formidable following, in practically every state there is some sort of Triumph club. Triumph TR sports cars continue to generate enormous enthusiasm on the classic sports car scene (James Taylor, back cover). Many people know triumph for their even less virtuous value They are known for their UN-reliability (Gregg Meboe Interview). The Triumph is one that will continue on through the ages.