Wednesday 8 October 2014
The Triumph Herald is a small two-door car introduced in 1959 by the Standard-Triumph Company of Coventry. Body design was by the Italian stylist Giovanni Michelotti, and the car was offered in saloon, convertible, coupé, van and estate models.
Total Herald sales numbered well over 500,000, and Heralds are still seen on British roads in the early 21st century. The Vitesse, Spitfire and GT6 are all based on modified Herald chassis and running gear with bolt-together bodies.
Towards the end of the 1950s Standard-Triumph offered a range of two-seater Triumph sports cars alongside its Standard saloons, the Standard 8 and 10, powered by a small (803 cc or 948 cc) 4-cylinder engine, which by the late 1950s were due for an update. Standard-Triumph therefore started work on the Herald. The choice of the Herald name suggests that the car was originally intended to be marketed as a Standard, as it fits the model-naming scheme of the time (Ensign, Pennant and Standard itself). But by 1959 it was felt that the Triumph name had more brand equity, and the Standard name was phased out in Britain after 1963.
Giovanni Michelotti was commissioned to style the car by the Standard-Triumph board, encouraged by chief engineer Harry Webster, and quickly produced designs for a two-door saloon with a large glass area that gave 93 per cent all-round visibility in the saloon variant and the "razor-edge" looks to which many makers were turning. As Fisher & Ludlow, Standard-Triumph's body suppliers became part of an uncooperative BMC, it was decided that the car should have a separate chassis rather than adopting the newer monocoque construction. The main body tub was bolted to the chassis and the whole front end hinged forward to allow access to the engine. Every panel – including the sills and roof – could be unbolted from the car so that different body styles could be easily built on the same chassis. Accordingly, in addition to the original coupé and saloon models, van, convertible and estate versions were on offer within two years.
The Standard Pennant's 4-cylinder 948 cc OHV engine and 4 speed manual gearbox was used with synchromesh on the top three gears and remote gear shift and driving the rear wheels. The rack and pinion steering afforded the Herald a tight 25-foot (7.6 m) turning circle. Coil and double-wishbone front suspension was fitted, while the rear suspension, a new departure for Triumph, offered independent springing via a single transverse leaf-spring bolted to the top of the final drive unit and swing axles.
Instruments were confined to a single large speedometer with fuel gauge in the saloon (a temperature gauge was available as an option) on a dashboard of grey pressed fibreboard. The coupé dashboard was equipped with speedometer, fuel and temperature gauges, together with a lockable glovebox. The car had loop-pile carpeting and heater as standard. A number of extras were available including twin carburettors, leather seats, a wood-veneered dashboard, Telaflo shock absorbers and paint options.
In late 1958, prototype cars embarked on a test run from Cape Town to Tangiers. An account of the journey was embellished by PR at the time. However only minor changes were deemed necessary between the prototype and production cars. The new car was launched at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 22 April 1959 but was not an immediate sales success, partly owing to its relatively high cost, approaching £700 (including 45 per cent Purchase Tax). In standard single-carburettor form the 34.5 bhp (26 kW) car was no better than average in terms of performance. A saloon tested by The Motor magazine in 1959 was found to have a top speed of 70.9 mph (114.1 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 31.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 34.5 miles per imperial gallon (8.2 L/100 km; 28.7 mpg-US) was recorded.
The rear suspension was criticised as yielding poor handling at the extremes of performance though the model was considered easy to drive with its good vision, light steering (smallest turning circle of any production car) and controls, and ease of repair.
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 1147 cc
- horsepower: 39 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 130 km/h