My World of Triumph
My first car was not a triumph, but a triumph in terms of achievement, it was a fabric bodied 1930 Morris Minor purchased in 1953 from a scrap yard. The body was very poor with the engine in a bread bin, I persuaded my step mother it was a good buy because she could have a very good bread bin. I rebodied the Morris with an estate type and rebuilt the engine.
One year later I visited a friend in Rusland Avenue, Orpington, opposite was a bedraggled looking sports car with a bad oil leak, it was to go for scrap on Monday the next day. This was a 1934 Triumph Gloria Speed Tourer with twin Zenith downdraught carburettors it looked far more attractive than my Morris so I purchased it for £15, it also had the attraction of 12” hydraulic brakes. The oil leak turned out to be the lack of a seal on the Tecalimite oil filter, this was quickly rectified. Messrs Glazebrook at South Croydon fitted a new hood, I made new side screens and generally checked over all the mechanics, the engine was dismantled and taken to ACIEM Engineering in Stanger Road, South Norwood. (This company were AC & IE Manton, Rootes dealers in Shirley, Croydon who also made trucks, The Manton, using the Rootes supercharged two stroke horizontally opposed diesel).
The Triumph was my daily transport. It did many holiday journeys carrying my parents to Norwich, Sutton Coldfield, and Bournemouth, all trouble free. I gave a lift to a person while the bus strike was on, this was encouraged by the government at the time. He was so taken by the Gloria and wanted to buy it, so a deal was struck, he and his wife continued to use the Triumph for many years. I am pleased to say, despite changing ownership a few times this car is still in use and in excellent condition. It will be noticed that this Gloria has full side screens and does not have the patent fold down panel on the door as can be seen on a later photograph.
Advertised in 1957 Exchange & Mart was a 1938 Continental stile Triumph Dolomite for £87-10s but with a broken propshaft. It was in fact a Dolomite Roadster14/65, it was the differential that was hit & miss. I drove it home the seven miles and each time I stopped the diff behaved and continued to drive. On the occasion that it ceased to drive, it was a simple matter of pushing the car a foot and the diff would reengage. The first job was to sort out the fault, all the nuts and bolts holding the crown wheel to the diff had come loose, and some nuts had fallen off and punched a hole through the rear diff cover. The cover was welded and the teeth on the crown wheel and pinion were carefully dressed with a stone, reassembled and no doubt still like it today. I repainted the car cream had all the chrome parts plated by Mercers at Forrest Hill, plus a new hood, I managed to recover the bench seat myself which looked respectable, but it was my first effort at anything like that. The engine ran well so apart from tuning etc it was left alone. This became my daily transport and replaced the Gloria. The Roadster was a very well made car, the wing piping was all chrome plated copper. The side step to the dickey and the trim round the spare wheel were solid brass. Tongue and grooved drawers under the front bench seat were neatly fitted out with tools. The hood stowed totally out of view. The driver’s window was operated by a half turn of the winder handle. The exposed windscreen dual wiper mechanism was all chrome plated and it also had full automatic chassis lubrication.
While the Dolly was being renovated I needed transport as the Gloria had now been sold. I was persuaded that American cars were good, despite their reputation for poor fuel economy and bad brakes, I was soon to find this to be unfounded, so I purchased a 1941 Studebaker Champion for £100 from Alliance Automatic in Croydon. This was a superb car, a business man’s coupe, a bench seat with two occasionals in the back and a huge boot, and it was very economical a very basic 3 litre side valve engine 3 speed gear box and column change.
Another Dolomite came my way; this belonged to the Alec Watts from Potters Bar the Publicity Officer of the Dolomite Association, predecessor to the Pre-40 Triumph Motor Club. This was a Dolomite Royal 14/60 it performed well as did most Dolomites and would quite quickly get up to 70 MPH. I soon found the body frame to be in a poor state despite its excellent outward appearance.
During 1959 I acquired a 1939 Triumph 2 litre 6 cylinder Dolomite Salmons Tickford registered ‘FLC 2’ from Reigate, truly a beautiful car, with its three position hood and three SU carburettors. I used it regularly, but the clutch started slipping, and I didn’t have the space to work on it while the roadster was being worked on so it was part exchanged at Croydon Car Mart for a 1938 Standard Flying 8. The Salmons Triumph was sold on but regrettably disappeared from the scene.
I was truly hooked on Triumphs and had a short spell with a 1937 Dolomite saloon 6 cylinders registered ‘DGX 63’, purchased from Alleyne Road Dulwich for the sum of £ 35. This early Dolomite had the earlier narrow grille. I have it fixed in my memory that this Triumph had the spare wheel carried in the front wing.
My Dolomite Roadster was now back on the road, so the saloon was sold. The Dolomite suited me up to about 1960 when forthcoming marriage prompted me that a four sweater was preferable. While at work, a colleague came to me saying, that somebody is outside wanting to buy your car. The person was a BOC lorry driver, He bought the car for £265, he owned the car for a while, and had a few owners after that it also suffered a few mishaps. The Roadster eventually finished up with a person thinking there was money in spare parts, so the one time beautiful Dolomite finished up as a pile of parts. Some of which are still in use today.
I have always had a liking for something a bit out of the ordinary which is why I went for Triumphs and not a MG which was the norm. So the four seater was to be a 1953 Jowett Javelin. This was a very practical car in every respect. Unfortunately one day my foot slipped off of the clutch pedal while in 1st gear which caused it to loose a tooth. It was winter and no garage, so the car was put aside to be repaired at a later date. Having fond memories of my robust Studebaker, I looked for another and found a Champion saloon at Kingston Bridge Car Sales for £90. I went on to have another two American cars the last was a 1955 Plymouth Belvedere, it was now 1970, and the Plymouth was my daily transport. I needed a car to tinker with so bought a rare 1940 Standard Flying 8 DHC, GGO 836 from Reigate, in need of restoration. Not a Triumph but had strong links later. This is pictured in Bart Vanderveens book, British Cars of the Early Forties. I can only say this was a very pretty car. With wind up windows and wood trim, it went well despite its 3 speed gearbox. My Plymouth was still in regular use, but a Triumph Club member was selling her 1934 Gloria Speed Tourer which was identical to the one I owned in 1954.This was a case of, ‘must have’. I drove the Triumph back from Epsom to discover that the oil pressure was virtually nil. The engine was dismantled to find that every internal component was impeccably clean, most unusual on an old car. Eventually it was all put back together, it was only when I restarted the engine I found why it was so clean, both the Zenith downdraught carburettors were flooding, filling the sump with petrol. The problem was due to a mechanic fitting the incorrect SU petrol pump. This car was generally in very good sound condition. However the floor boards were poor and the dash board had many immigrant wood worms. So the whole car was dismantled and rebuilt. A change of job gave me a company car so the Plymouth was sold. Coincidently I bought the Plymouth from a French lady and it was purchased from me by a Frenchman and so returned to Lille, France, hopefully still there today.
The Triumph remained my hobby, right up to the 1990’s. For some reason I decided I didn’t want the work entailed with an old car so I sold the Gloria via Brooks Auction, it since changed hands twice. It has now been with the current owner for many years and still in excellent condition.
Winter 2003, I was wanting for some more constructive amusement, apart from looking after my daily Volvo. The Triumph car club had been informed of two Triumph Super Nine’s for sale in need of restoration, both north west of London. One a 1931 model was in a garage, with no rear wheels, broken springs, cracked brake drums, no headlamps and no engine or gearbox, although they were available. The interior was in a mess. The other car was 1933 and abandoned to the elements and had virtually sunk into the ground. Both cars were rescued by a team of willing volunteers from the Pre-1940 Triumph Motor Club. I purchased the 1931 car in April 2004 while the other was a source of spares for the club, and giving me headlamps, parts for the rear axle and later a spare engine.
The 1931 Super Nine was delivered to my rented garage at Coulsdon in April 2004. After two years of intensive hard work, it was MOT’d in April 2006. This car had been purchased new by the previous owner and laid up in 1947. It was seen parked to one side in the Triumph works, in what appeared to be an unfinished car. The question was asked by the would-be purchaser if it was for sale, the reply was yes, and that it was a prototype. While rebuilding this car, I found, written on each door panel and rear side panels a messages, stating; 6 Light saloon revised edition No 1 and its position in the car. The wood trim on the ‘B’ post also had written on the inside; Do not fit wait further instructions.
The Super Nine was the first Triumph to be fitted with a Coventry Climax engine and to adopt 12 volts. It is possible that this Triumph is that one as there is a brass plate on the Lucas dynamo stating; Lucas Works Sample. See picture.
There are many variations with this Super Nine compared with production models. The body is the same profile, but the windscreen is nearer to the bonnet; the body has a fabric covered steel roof and a separate rear panel of steel, bodies were usually all aluminium. The upholstery is trimmed in Bedford Cord and the bright furnishings are of different pattern, the dash board has oblong glove boxes without lids, while the instrument panel is chrome plated. There is a smoker’s vent in the roof, and the doors finish high above the running board these appear on adverts but not found in any other Super Nine’s.