The front-wheel drive Triumph 1300 was an exciting little car that had been designed to replace the Herald – and ended up evolving in several different directions during its life. This small, well-appointed saloon was something of a radical departure for Triumph – and a technical direction that the company subsequently retreated from, sadly.
Engine is the same as the Herald 13/60’s, but it was placed on top the gearbox and drive was sent to the front wheels. At the time, the 1300 probably had no direct rivals, and consequently, Triumph enjoyed modest TC – that car received an extra 14bhp, plus a brake servo to help improve stopping performance. Both were replaced by the front-wheel drive 1500 in 1970, an elegant restyle that saw the car grow seven inches in length and acquire twin headlamps.
The Toledo was launched in 1970 as a 1300cc rear-wheel-drive entry-level Triumph. What made it interesting was that it used the front-wheel-drive 1500 (nee 1300)’s body with a shorter nose and tail, but was launched at the same time. These rear-drive underpinnings were used in the 1500’s replacement, the 1500TC, in 1973 – and that car received the 1500’s full-length body to unify the styling of these smaller Triumphs.
In 1972, Triumph revived the pre-war Dolomite name to create one of the most underrated saloons Britain produced during the 1970s. But then, it would be somewhat eclipsed by the Sprint. The Dolomite 1850 was essentially a rear-wheel drive 1500TC fitted with an 1854cc version of the overhead-cam slant-four Triumph had been building for Saab. The underpinnings remained the same – so wishbone front suspension and live rear axle – but the settings were stiffened-up for the 1850. And it was a sweet driving saloon that stood up to anything the opposition could throw at it.
The ultimate Dolomite was launched just a year later. The Sprint featured a 16-valve head and 127bhp, and performance was stunning in its day. But it wasn’t just quick, it was also well-equipped as standard, with plenty of wood trim and tinted glass plus that most 1970s of items, a vinyl roof. Overdrive too, from May 1975.
All models were renamed Dolomite in 1976, and unified into a single range. This made things much less confusing for customers – you could now buy your Dolomite in 1300, 1500, 1500HL, 1850HL and Sprint forms. Today the Dolomite and its predecessors are brilliant starter classics.
Reviews, blogs and news stories
Small but perfectly formed THE Dolomite development story is one of the most interesting and unusual ones that you will come across on this website – benefitting from several twists and turns along the way. Although development started normally enough, things moved in the most interesting way once the car was long into its production […]
Craig Cheetham It’s back! After a four-year absence and largely down to popular demand, AROnline is pleased to announce the return of the Car of the Month feature – starting this month with Alan Crome’s gorgeous Triumph Dolomite, rescued from being scrapped back in 2001. Here’s your opportunity to tell us a little bit about your […]
Autocar 18 February 1966 Triumph 1300 Harry Webster Talks To Ronald Barker About Its Background And Evolution Ronald Barker – My first question, Mr Webster, is when did you initiate the 1300 project? Harry Webster – About three years ago, I suppose – anyhow, some time after the Leyland takeover. Ronald Barker – So this […]
Bob Jankel of Panther had the great idea of building a luxury car based on the Triumph Dolomite… Panther Westwinds had been set-up by fashion designer Bob Jankel to produce expensive and bespoke cars for the customer that wanted something entirely different. His previous products included the (Jaguar-esque) J72 and (Ferrari-esque) FF, which were both […]
The Triumph 1300 was built in Israel by Autocars in a small-scale CKD operation. No doubt, the sophisticated little Triumph was seen as an effective upward expansion of the range… The Michelotti-deisgned, front-wheel-drive Triumph 1300/1500 was assembled in Israel by Autocars between 1967 and 1973, from original British parts. At that time, the Israeli market […]
The bloodline of Triumph’s popular small saloon, the Dolomite, can be traced back to the front-wheel-drive Triumph 1300 of the mid-Sixties. This timeline charts the key points in the development of the range, right up to the point where it gave way to the Honda Ballade-based Triumph Acclaim. Year Event Picture 1965 Michelotti-styled Triumph 1300 […]
The 1300 was a vitally important car for Triumph. It is clear from the number of attempts to get the styling right that the company wasn’t taking any chances – and Michelotti obliged by producing a fantastic looking product. Michelotti styling sketches Nearing completion Thanks to Ian Nicholls and Graham Arnold for the pictures
The 1960s were an exciting time for Triumph, which saw great expansion at the Canley factory. Below are some photographs taken at the 180,000 cars-per-year facility, as well as some at the sister plant in Speke. Triumph TR6 Toledo These early two-door Toledos were built at the Speke factory. Dolomite 2000/2500 Stag Pictures kindly supplied […]
Triumph: the winner that never was THE Triumph car company, like Rover, was a genuine British success story of the 1960s. From the low-point of being declared bankrupt in 1939 – and being picked up by Standard in 1945, the Triumph name had forged ahead. So much so, that from 1959 onwards all new Standards […]
There’s a lot of talk about premium small cars these days – here are two that were playing the game 35 years ago… First published in Classic Car Weekly in November 2005, RICHARD GUNN pitted the Austin 1300GT against its upmarket in-house rival, the Triumph 1300TC… Brotherly rivals Introduction Ah, ‘GT’ and ‘TC’, two magical […]