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Triumph Car Club 25th Anniversary

Broadcast date : 16th July 2006


The imposing Voortrekker Monument played host to the Pretoria Triumph Sports Car Club a few weeks ago to celebrate its 25th birthday. Over 100 cars turned up, and pretty much represented the entire range of Triumph products seen in this country.

Early Roadsters, TR4s, TR6s, Spitfires, TR2s and TR3s, were all on show. Most of the cars came from the Pretoria and Gauteng areas, but a few came from much further afield.

The Triumph name really came to prominence in the 1940’s, after the Standard company purchased the British marque in 1944 to take on Jaguar.

And in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, Triumphs were regarded with much respect, and more than a little awe by enthusiasts.
Triumph was the natural British rival to MG, and its range was similar. The most cherished models are probably the TR2s and TR3s, which were considered extremely modern and powerful for their time.
The TR2 was launched in 1953 and came with 90 horsepower’s worth of four-cylinder power. The TR3 had a similar box-shaped grille while the later, more powerful TR3A had a wider grille that encircled the indicator lights.

Another distinguishing mark of the TR3A is the exterior door handles, while wire wheels were optional. The final TR3A models could top 170 km/h and had amazing torque.
By the 1960’s a more modern shape was required to compete with MG’s and Austin Healey and this resulted in the TR4 of 1962.

It still used the similar four-cylinder twin S.U. engine, enlarged to 2,2 litres in the final TR3A, and had bodywork styled by Michelotti of Italy.

In an ever-demanding market this model soon evolved to the TR5, with a 2,5 litre six-cylinder engine. 

A few years later the TR6 was introduced with revised bodywork by Karmann of Germany.

The TR5s and TR6s were good for over 190 km/h with the optional overdrive four-speed gearbox. 

Again wheels ranged from steel disc wheels to wire optionals.

Just as MG had its Midget and Austin Healey its Sprite, Triumph came out with a smaller sports car called the Spitfire. This started life with a small 1,2 litre engine, but later engine size grew to 1500 cc’s.

Still later, in the late 1960’s, the fastback GT6 was produced, using a six-cylinder engine from the TR5 and TR6. This car could really fly, but its handling was a little tricky.

Even more potent was the rare TR8, which used a Rover V8 engine. There are only three TR8’s known to be in South Africa. They are very similar in style to the late-1970’s TR7, and badges apart, you need to be an expert to spot them.

The V8 was good for some 200 horsepower and plenty quick enough.
Triumph also built saloons, and one of the more memorable was the humble Herald, which used a 1200 cc engine. 
The similar-bodied Vitesse used a six-cylinder engine, first in 1600 cc form, and later enlarged to a two-litre.

This beautiful convertible was driven to the birthday bash by Bloemfontein’s Piet Smit.

If the Vitesse were to break down, Piet was well prepared with a fully-stocked picnic basket for the long haul back to Bloem.
One of the oldest Triumphs at the rally was the 1947 Razor Edge saloon owned by Chris Lewis. 

A Roadster version of this car also became famous immediately after the war, and both used a rather modest 1,8 litre four-cylinder engine.

Triumphs are not particularly noted for their speed, but they certainly have that indefinable "something" called character. Here’s looking to the next 25 years for the Pretoria Triumph Club.

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