“As you may be aware I have just taken on the chalice of being the area liaison for the South West taking over from Charles, so I thought I would give you a potted history of myself and Triumphs by way of an introduction.
A long time ago as an excited 17 year old I was given some driving lessons and eagerly I presented myself to the local branch of BSM with my provisional licence and was escorted to a powder blue Triumph Toledo, yes folks the very first car (Legally) drove on the road was a Triumph. After spending most of the lesson being shown where the controls were etc. etc. we set off for a 20 minutes drive. So I fell in love with Triumph. Unfortunately the next and subsequent lessons were in a brand new Metro one of the first made, what a heap even though it was new! But being an entrepreneur even at that stage I had enough money to go out and get myself something similar, so I found a clapped out Wolseley 1300 to practice in. After many hours with my next door neighbour, a very patient man, and 20 minutes with my Dad I managed to pass my driving test, first time unbelievably.
Well a year or so past the Wolseley went to the scrap yard in the sky after a nasty head on with a Vauxhall Magnum, and the Ford Escort Mk1 which I inherited from my brother suffered a similar fate but not with me at the wheel. However, it was sometime during this period I spotted a Spitfire and knew I had to get one, but knew that as I did not have a pilots licence I would have to settle for the car.
But all had to be put on hold as University beckoned, actually a Polytechnic but its a uni now! so all thoughts of Spitfire ownership had to be put on hold. In fact a bit longer than I had hoped because the next car was a Dolomite….1976 1500 HL and it was this car that sealed my relationship with Triumph. Twin headlights, red and comfortable and quick for a 4 door saloon. A great car, and although not a Spitfire, it did fare considerably better than my previous two cars when it fought off the amorous attentions of a brewers dray behind and a mini in front. A quick trip to Fillit and Sprayit and it was good as new.
So the 3 years at Poly quickly flew bye and by a quirk of fate my brothers wife’s friend had a crash damaged Spit Mk3 for sale, free if collected. At last I owned a Spitfire, albeit one with no bonnet. But all quickly rectified and booked in for an MOT, unfortunately it never made it to the MOT station, this time it was a Vauxhall Cavalier that did the damage, the Spit hit up the rear and unrepairable. (I don’t like Vauxhalls by the way) But still I had my (t)rusty Doly for a bit.
But open top motoring had grabbed me and so did a Vitesse 2 litre convertible…1968 this time and I kissed goodbye to the Doly with a tear in my eye (it lasted 6 months before I spotted it smashed up in someone’s drive, a sad end). What a mistake that was, sawdust in the diff, tights in the gearbox , iron filings in the filler and a breeze block on a chain for brakes. I needed parts and fast, so I joined the TSSC and started up the Hastings Area from nothing. Meanwhile with wailing diff and crunchy gearbox I started dating my future wife. It didn’t start off well when the second date ended abruptly when she said ooh there is a wheel bouncing down the road, odd I thought and then it dawned on me why I had come to an abrupt halt without chucking the breeze block out of the window. It was my nearside front wheel that had become detached from the nearside front trunion which dug a groove into the road along Hastings sea front which was still there 20 years later. The motto learned was oil not grease.
So my affair with the Vitesse ended there and then, especially as a very low mileage Herald 13/60 with full webasto sunroof had come into my life. Picking that up was a joy, a locking petrol cap, no key and little fuel to find a locksmith. This car however was a keeper, original and unmolested so I persuaded my Dad to store it for me and using the proceeds from the Vitesse began searching for a Spit. Within a couple of weeks I had managed to find one, a white 1500 with overdrive and hardtop, private sale. Typical of BL at the time, and even though it was only four years old, it needed a new diff. The seller would not budge on the price and sold it to the local BL dealer, I was there within a nano second negotiated a price and insisted on a warrantee, drove it off the forecourt and back on again, I picked it up three days later with a new diff! Saving myself £300 in the process.
Enjoying the lovely summer of 1985 one thing lead to another and oops I was married, unfortunately the Herald had to go. In all honesty that car was great, it drove like new and you could understand why they were so popular in their day.
The Spit continued to be my daily runner whilst I had moved away to Basingstoke. The trouble was that it developed a penchant for wearing out the nearside front tyre, two suspension rebuilds later and a nice mechanic eventually looked at me and asked wear I live, we worked out that I was going around 9 roundabouts on my way to work, 24 years old and in a sports car…. Nearside front tyre wear was just an occupational hazard.
My car history became a bit boring then, a Renault 5 to drive over the winter until it blew a spark plug out of the head, a Fiesta inherited form the wife when she got a company car but then an old 1500 came to my attention, blown engine quickly replaced and that was my winter car for 1987. It failed its MOT in March 1988, unfortunately terminally. The winter of 1988 saw the arrival of a splendid red Dolomite 1500, rescued off some ones drive with a stuck clutch. Lessen learnt, it is not the best way to free a clutch by accelerating down the A272 at 80mph in 3rd gear with a roundabout looming. It worked however, the things you did as a 25 year old! This car was eventually sold to a mate of mine and gave him good service till it blew up on the M1 3 years later.
1989 saw two more triumphs in my drive, a Herald 1200 estate and a herald based kit car. Both found with shot clutches. The kit car was re-clutched and with copious amounts of STP in the engine and gearbox was used for a couple of months and then sold. The Herald 1200 was a good workhorse, eventually being sold and restored by a colleagues brother.
With the proceeds of the above, the next was a Dolomite Sprint (well not quite, I was the owner of a 2000 estate for a very brief period but that was a disaster in more ways than one so best forgotten). White with overdrive and full length sun roof, low mileage and a joy to drive, quick and economical giving 35 mpg driven hard.
The wife by this stage had lost her company car, so I then bought…..sshhh don’t tell any one… an Acclaim. This we shared, she preferred the Acclaim as it was so easy to drive, but being reliable I used to use it on long journeys. It was sold when she got a new company car, a pity because even being a Honda it was without a doubt one of the best cars made by BL. Time flew by, the wife lost her job and car so another Acclaim was bought and a 1959 powder blue Herald 948 was offered to me which I could not resist.
By 1991 I qualified as an accountant and we moved house, just in time to see mortgage rates rise to 15% . The 948 Herald was stripped of its number plate and sold, I lost my job, the wife became my ex-wife and I moved to Shaftesbury. With Spit and Doly in tow. She took the Acclaim so all was not bad.
So there I was young free and single in Shaftesbury, when someone offered me a GT6 in a straight swap for the Doly I had to say yes. Two sporty cars at once one hard top and one soft perfect! But I made a mistake. The GT6 was not good, in fact awful, so it went as soon as I could possibly get rid of it, sold it to someone who’s spine was a lot tougher than mine.
We now jump forward 5 years in fact to 1997 (1992 got lost in a blur, my eyes had been jiggled about so much in the GT6 I could not focus). Various cars had come and gone but as I still retained the Spit and an interest in Triumphs an urge began to stir about buying a pre war model having seen a picture of the Dolomite straight 8 and a Dolomite DHC for sale at auction. It was then I found the club and a very helpful man called Ian Harper, who put me onto another very helpful man Rob Green.
A 1932 Gloria was seen , and test driven but rejected, that was followed by Rob Green’s green Vitesse which was sold before I could decide. It was then the 75th Anniversary of Triumph at Gayden. I attended wandered around and took a few pictures of cars I liked. Thinking nothing of it after returning Rob phoned me and says there is a Gloria for sale, we spoke about it and I thought, if I have taken a picture of it I will have to buy it. I had. (I had only taken 3 of pre war triumphs and one of those was of the Doly straight 8) I then became the proud owner of BYH 374 and a member of the club.
But that’s not the final episode in my Triumph ownership saga, last year my other half, Jooles had a birthday and a bright orange Herald convertible came on the market, its first registration date being her birthday and its number plate ending in 50J. It was too much of a coincidence so it became the latest triumph in the fleet! But the only thing wrong was that the number plate should have ended 21J, obviously.
So that’s it 17 Triumphs owned from the 1930’s, 50’s, 60’s 70’s and 80’s. So what’s next? Well obviously I need to get my hands on a 1920’s super 7 and a 1940 Dolomite Roadster so I can say I have owned a Triumph from every decade, so can any one help? Especially as the medical profession have given up!” Adrian Thompson