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A real Triumph Of Styling

Chris Haining June 16, 2016 All Things Hoon 6 Comments

The Hofmeister kink. The Hofmeister bloody kink. It appears in lists of ‘favourite car styling cues’ with monotonous regularity. That and the shark-nose grille. It seems either that BMW have been credited with more than their fair share of design hits. And, I admit, rightly so.

But could mankind’s adoration of the design output of Bavaria not be drip-fed by constant exposure, just like a piece of music will be embedded in your psyche after you’ve heard it a hundred times on the radio, on TV spots and as you walk past storefronts? It took a good thirty years for BMW’s design language to markedly change, but which time it had become part of the landscape. No wonder the best of classic BMW styling is universally hallowed.

Sometimes its easy to forget about the fallen. Those cars which have been lost in the fickle mists of time. When I recently saw this track-prepared Triumph 2500 I remembered just how strong a visual statement it made.

(The irony of a ‘tow’ label on a Leyland car is not lost on me)

A product of Michelotti’s drawing board, the MK1 Triumph 2000 was a thoroughly contemporary looking car when it was launched in 1963, where a good number of its rivals still looked like they were firmly rooted to the 1950s. However it wasn’t until the design was revised – following the release of the Triumph Stag – that it gained the striking front end treatment that this example wears.

We speak of corporate identity like it’s a recent thing. Audi take it to extremes where it takes a tape measure and a lot of patience to actually tell each of their current models apart; Lexus have taken it way beyond breaking point by making their grille so repulsively individual that nobody could have the slightest interest in copying it.

Triumph established a corporate look in the 1970s for its upmarket models, the Stag and the 2000/2500 range that really succeeded in setting it apart from the rest of the BMC range. Even the handsome Rover P6 somehow looked more contrived and, with its deliberate design homage to the Citroen DS, in some ways it was actually less original.

We often speak of cars which, aesthetically, were ahead of their time and I think this, especially shorn of its old-fashioned chrome bumpers, is a prime example. Just like the NSU Ro80 I reckon it would respond well to a modern reinterpretation, probably not taking a whole lot of reworking to look like something that could be sold today.

What do you reckon? What car for the past could, in an alternative reality, so easily be a car of today?

(All images copyright Chris Haining, Redusernab 2016)

 

  • Simon BiTurbo

    Stop it. I’ve been trying not to blow all my money on Triumphs for ages now and you go and post something as drop-dead gorgeous as that.

    I must have one.

    There’s an estate running around with a 3.0l Stag V8 which would be absolutely lovely, or even a beefy iteration of a Rover V8 (I’ve got the 2.5l PI engine going into my Spitfire so I’d like a bit of a change with the saloon).

    It’s a shame that Triumph didn’t do the same thing that BMW did with the E12/E24 with the 2000/2500. With the E28, they basically did an extremely thorough revamp of the front and rear of their existing car and called it a new one.

    As the 2000/2500 was ahead of its time in all but engine (unibody, semi-trailing arm IRS, progressive styling) I think they could have comfortably done that with at least another generation, given some updated powertrains.

    • Rover 1

      Technically, in so many ways the SD1 Rover was much less sophisticated than both the cars it replaced. And despite this was no more reliable.

      AS a former P6 owner I feel obliged to point out that my friend’s 2500PI, once jacked up to change a tyre couldn’t open (or if left open, close) it’s doors due to the shell racking which explains some of the weight saving over the Rover.

      But, six cylinders and overdrive controlled by a switch on the gear knob were some compensation.

      And Triumph were looking at AWD as well. Someone has one of the prototypes, a Stag V8 powered AWD Estate.

      That would be nice.

      • Simon BiTurbo

        Yeah the SD1 was a step backwards in technological ambitiousness, although that didn’t seem to hurt its reputation at all (the build quality did that all by itself).

        Yeah I’ve seem sill strengtheners marketed for the Triumph big saloons. Not surprised that they needed them as the Rover engineering department seemed to be well ahead of the game at the time with their built-in crumple zones and unstressed panels.

        I’m actually swapping the 2.5PI inline 6 and gearbox into my Spitfire actually so I’ll have the delights of both!

        • Rover 1

          Some of the guys in the local Triumph cameraderie have gone bigger than 2.5 to 2.7 litres and updated the PI with Bosch stuff to make it more reliable. I’ve given up talking to one of them who mantains Spitfires handle better than Miatas.. That is a good conversion you’ve embarked on, deservedly popular.

          • Simon BiTurbo

            Yeah there’s a chap on my forum that has a 2.7l EFi engine in his GT6. Goes very nicely 🙂 doesn’t make any more power than the Lucas injection, but much better part-throttle fuel economy.

            I’ve looked into the Bosch fuel pump conversion and there are issues keeping it cool (which is exactly the problem on the Lucas pumps). The general opinion is that it’s a bit of a false economy moving to the Bosch pump as you might as well run a heavier gauge wire to the Lucas pump, sort something to cool it and you should be just as reliable. The Bosch one is usefully lighter though.

            I could see that on a flat track in a later Spitfire 1500 with the swing spring and longer driveshafts, and an aftermarket camber compensator you could out-handle a Miata. You’d take a significant penalty in ride comfort, but I think the potential’s there given the 200kg weight saving over a Miata.

            Personally I’m going down another route. CV axles and a custom fabricated (by me!) lower a-arm that mounts below the chassis rails to give it proper camber control. Should work quite nicely!

            • Rover 1

              And then you start modifying the Miata.

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