Why we love the… Triumph Herald
“Heraldry, what it means to me”, by Dale Turley
What does the Triumph Herald mean to me?
When I was a small child, my parents always changed their car more often than I changed my underwear. My earliest motoring memories were my mothers company provided and signwritten ‘Singer Sewing Machines’ Morris Mini van, and my fathers Sunbeam Rapier H120. I never liked the van (I spent every journey trying to stay in one place in the back!), and the Sunbeam was ‘well flash’. But I used to see these funny looking cars twirling around.
They were out of production by the time I appeared in 1971, and during the early years of Milton Keynes, before the roundabouts, shopping centres and dual carriageways, all the council estates that were popping up were littered with these rusting Triumph Heralds. But people still loved them. Even our window cleaner had a Herald Courier van!
They were always tatty, and they always rattled and creaked over every bump, but they just looked so ‘right’. Their sharpness of line only matched by the sharpness of their rusty edges.
And then they seemed to virtually disappear overnight!
As I grew older, I developed a passion for all things automotive that was never to diminish. When I was ten, all my friends bought ‘Look-In’ (remember that?) – I bought ‘Street Machine’ and ‘Custom Car’. And every now and then, I’d see another Herald and gaze at it for hours on end.
And then I started driving. I had numerous Beetles, Campers, Minis, etc, but still hankered after a Herald. I studied them as hard as I could, until I knew exactly what I wanted.
And one day, I decided I was going to get one. I looked at a few over a four year period, ranging from genuine scrap, through bodged scrap to bodged ‘minters’.
Then I happened across my latest toy – a 1971 Triumph Herald 13/60 convertible in Wedgwood Blue.
|you’d have to be doing something pretty silly to
get it really out of shape…
Humphrey, as my wife has christened him, falls into the category of ‘well used but pretty honest’, and is apparently the latest registered Herald known to the Triumph Sports Six Club (UK registered in 1974 as an ‘M’ reg).
But is it just the styling that floats my boat? No.
The styling is the main thing, but here’s a car (a whole range of cars, if you count the Vitesse, Spitfire, GT6 and Bond Equipe) that’s built as strong as on ox in the chassis department. Here’s a car that anyone can maintain for peanuts. Here’s a car with a turning circle as tight as a tight thing. Here’s a car with unrivalled access to all the mechanical components (at the front end, at least). Here’s a car that’s so clever that with the same basic design they managed to churn out so many different versions and body styles. And there’s that long lived and generally reliable four cylinder Triumph engine.
Outdated at launch, with its separate chassis and ‘component’ body style, but for the same reason, ahead of its time due to its inherent ‘adaptability’.
Although universally slated, then and now, for its handling characteristics generated by its transverse leaf spring independent rear suspension, you’d have to be doing something pretty silly to get it really out of shape.
And that styling… Michelotti got it so right all those years ago, and I’m looking forward to restoring this example to its former glory after we’ve used it for a couple of years as a ‘beater’.
That’s what Heraldry means to me.