- Triumph Motor Company
Infobox Defunct Company
company_name = Triumph Motor Company
fate = Merged, continuing as a division of
Leyland Motors Ltd
foundation = 1885
defunct = 1984
location = flagicon|UK
Coventry, England, UK
Siegfried Bettmann, Moritz (Maurice) Schulte (founders)
The Triumph Motor Company had its origins in 1885 when
Siegfried Bettmann(1863-1951) and Moritz (Maurice) Schulte from Germanyfounded Bettmann & Co and started selling Triumph bicycles, from premises in London and from 1889 started making his own machines in Coventry, England.
The Triumph Cycle Company
From bicycles, the
Triumph Cycle Co. Ltd., as the company was named in 1897 cite book |last=Robson |first=Graham |title=The Story of Triumph Sports Cars |year=1972 |publisher=MRP |location=Croydon |id=ISBN 0-900549-23-8] , branched out in 1902 into making Triumph motor cycles at their works in Much Park Street. At first these used bought-in engines but the business took off and they soon started making their own and in 1907 expanded into a new factory in Priory Street taking over the premises of a spinning mill. Major orders for the 550 cc Model H came from the British Army during World War 1 and by 1918 they were Britain's largest motor cycle maker.
In 1921, Bettmann was persuaded by his general manager
Claude Holbrook(1886-1979), who had joined the company in 1919, to acquire the assets and Clay Lane premises of the Dawson Car Companyand start producing a 1.4 litre model called the Triumph 10/20which was actually designed for them by Lea-Francisto whom they paid a royalty for every car sold.cite book |last=Georgano |first=N. |coauthors= |title=Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile |year=2000 |publisher=HMSO |location=London |id=ISBN 1-57958-293-1] Production of this car and its immediate successors was on a moderate scale but this changed with the introduction in 1927 of the Triumph Super 7which sold in large numbers through to 1934.
The Triumph Motor Company
In 1930 the company changed its name to the Triumph Motor Company. It was clear to Holbrook that there was no future in pursuing the mass manufacturers and so decided to take the company upmarket with the Southern Cross and Gloria ranges. At first these used engines made by Triumph but designed by
Coventry Climaxbut from 1937 they started to make them to their own designs by Donald Healeywho had become the company’s Experimental Manager in 1934.
The company hit financial problems however and in 1936 the Triumph bicycle and motorcycle businesses were sold, the latter to
Jack Sangsterof Ariel to become Triumph Engineering Co. Ltd. . Healey purchased an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 and developed an ambitious new car with an Alfa inspired Straight-8engine called the Triumph Dolomite.Cite web|url=http://www.rickcarey.com/Catalog%20Descriptions/RM_Amelia_02_%20Monza_2211125.htm|title=Alfa Romeo 8C 2300|accessdate=2007-08-16|work=rickcarey.com] However the eight-cylinder engine was not used in the production car with the same name.
In July 1939, the Triumph Motor Company went into receivership and the factory, equipment and goodwill were offered for sale.
T.W. Wardpurchased the company and placed Healey in charge as general manager, but the effects of World War IIagain stopped the production of cars and the Priory Street works was completely destroyed by bombing in 1940.
In November 1944 what was left of the Triumph Motor Company and the Triumph brand name was bought by the
Standard Motor Company[cite book
last = Robson
first = Graham
title = Triumph Spitfire and GT6
publisher = Osprey Publishing Ltd
date = 1982
location = London
pages = 8
isbn = 0-85045-452-2] and a subsidiary "Triumph Motor Company (1945) Limited" was formed with production transferred to Standard's factory at
Canley, on the outskirts of Coventry. The pre-war models were not revived and in 1946 a new range of Triumphs starting with the Triumph Roadsterwas announced. Because of steel shortages these were bodied in aluminium which was plentiful because of its use in aircraft production. The same engine was used in the 1800 Town and Country saloon, later named the Triumph Renown, which was notable for the razor-edge styling chosen by Standard-Triumph's managing director Sir John Black. A similar style was also used on the subsequent Triumph Mayflowerlight saloon. All three of these models prominently sported the "globe" badge that had been used on pre-war models. When Sir John was forced to retire from the company this range of cars was discontinued without being directly replaced.
In the early 1950s it was decided to use the Triumph name on sporting cars and the Standard name on saloons and in 1953 the
Triumph TR2was launched, the first of a series that would run through to 1981. Curiously the TR2 wore a Standard badge on its nose and the Triumph globe on its hubcaps.
Standard had been making a range of small saloons called the
Standard Eightand Ten and had been working on a replacement for these. The success of the TR range meant that Triumph was seen as a more marketable name than Standard and the new car was launched in 1959 as the Triumph Herald; the last Standard car to be made in the UK was replaced in 1963 by the Triumph 2000.
Leyland and beyond
In December 1960 the company was bought by
Leyland Motors Ltdwith Donald Stokesbecoming chairman of the Standard Triumph division in 1963. Further mergers led to the formation of British Leyland Motor Corporationin 1968.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Triumph sold a succession of
Michelotti-styled saloons and sports cars, including the advanced Dolomite Sprint, which, in 1973, already had a 16-valve four cylinder engine. It is alleged that many Triumphs of this era were unreliable, especially the 2.5 PI with its fuel injection problems. In Australia, the summer heat caused petrol in the electric fuel pump to vapourise, resulting in frequent breakdowns of the 2.5 PI and TR6 models. While the injection system had proved itself in international competition, it did lack altitude compensation for the adjustment of mixture at altitudes greater than 3000 ft (1000 m) above sea level. The key reason for the Lucas system's unpopularity, was that Lucas was not inclined to further develop it on the one hand allied to the unwillingness of Standard-Triumph dealers to attend factory and field-based training courses dedicated to this propulsion method.
For most of its time under Leyland or BL ownership the Triumph marque belonged in the Specialist Division of the company which went under the names of "Rover Triumph" and later "Jaguar Rover Triumph" apart from a brief period in the mid 1970s when all BL's car marques or brands were grouped together under the name of "Leyland Cars".
The only all-new Triumph model launched under "Rover Triumph" was the TR7, which had the misfortune to be in production successively at three factories that were closed -
Speke, the Leyland-era Standard-Triumph works in Liverpool, the original Standard works at Canley, Coventryand finally the Rover works in Solihull. The four-cylinder TR7, its eight-cylindered derivative the TR8, and its still-born fastback variant the Lynx, were dropped when the Solihull plant ceased making road-going cars (the plant continues to build Land Rovers.)
The last Triumph model was the Acclaim which was launched in 1981 and was essentially a rebadged Honda Ballade built under licence from
Japanese company Hondaat the former Morrisworks in Cowley, Oxford. The Triumph name disappeared in 1984, when the Acclaim was replaced by the Rover 200, which was a rebadged version of Honda's next generation Civic/Ballade model. The BL car division was by then called Austin Rover Groupwhich also sounded the death knell for the Morris marque as well as Triumph.
trademarkis currently owned by BMW, acquired when it bought the Rover Groupin 1994. When it sold Rover, it kept the Triumph marque. The Phoenix Consortium, which bought Rover, tried to buy the Triumph brand, but BMW refused, saying that if Phoenix insisted, it would break the deal. The Standard marque was transferred to British Motor Heritage Limited, along with Austin, Morris, and Wolseley marques. The Austin, Morris and Wolseley marques were later sold to MG Rover Group Ltd, on the 10th December 2003. The Standard marque is still retained by British Motor Heritage who also have the licence to use the Triumph marque in relation to the sale of spares and support of the existing 'park' of Triumph cars.
The MG marque was sold to Phoenix along with the sale of the Rover brand images and a licence to use the Rover name. The Rover name was later sold to Ford, with Nanjing Automotive gaining the rights to the brand image. The Triumph name has been retained by BMW along with Riley, Rolls-Royce and
Mini. In late 2007, Auto Express, on the back of continued rumours that Triumph might return under BMW ownership, ran a story showing an image of what a new version of the TR4 might look like. BMW has not commented officially on this.
Triumph car models
* [http://www.pre-1940triumphownersclub.net/ The Pre-1940 Triumph Owners Club] For all pre-1940 cars
* [http://www.thewedgeshop.com/ The Wedgeshop] Triumph TR7/8 Specialist
* [http://www.TRregistry.com/ International Triumph TR Registry] free database with Commission numbers and photographs of TR2-TR6s
* [http://www.heritage-motor-centre.co.uk/picturelibrary/ Heritage Motor Centre] - British Motor Industry Heritage Trust
* [http://www.bmh-ltd.com/company.htm British Motor Heritage Ltd] - British Motor Heritage Ltd
* [http://club.triumph.org.uk/ Club Triumph] - The original British Triumph club
* [http://www.triumphmuseum.org/ Triumph Museum] - Museum of interesting Triumph prototypes and race cars
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