Car of the Month : October 2014 – Alan Crome’s Triumph Dolomite

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Craig Cheetham

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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 car, why you own it, how you acquired it, what you’ve done to it, what you do with it and what it means to you… I’ve got another one lined up for November (I’ll aim to get them up mid-month), but this part of the site relies entirely on your contributions, so please feel encouraged to send in a few words and pictures on your car. Oh, and don’t worry if the words aren’t professional or the pictures need a polish – we can take care of that.

Don’t be put off, either, if your car isn’t the best of its breed. It’s the enthusiasm and passion for our cars that matters most among this community, so we’re just as happy to welcome anything made out Isopon P38 and chicken wire with its doors hanging off as we are a concours restoration (indeed, it makes me feel a bit better about my own less than perfect fleet). If you love it, so do we.

This month’s Car of the Month was democratically elected via the AROnline Facebook Group. If you haven’t joined it, look it up and apply to be part of the community – though in all honesty I try and keep away as much as I can on the simple basis that every time I do go on there, there’s something painfully tempting for sale.

Anyway, Alan’s picture – the header shot here – was voted as the best among many submitted by AROnline fans. The prize? A  moment’s stardom on the site. It doesn’t come much better than that, apart from maybe beer or chocolate. So crack open a cold one, unwrap a block of Fruit and Nut, and read on. Alan over to you…

Meantime, to be considered for a future Car of the Month appearance, please send images and words about your cherished British classic to craig@aronline.co.uk

Words: Alan Crome

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This is my 1975 Triumph Dolomite. I bought it locally on the Isle of Wight in 2001, after it had been off the road for around six years – if I didn’t make plans for its collection before the following weekend it was destined for the scrapyard.

‘Happy’ was originally registered in Buckinghamshire in May 1975, finished in Honeysuckle paint with a new Tan interior, and was registered to the CEO of an electrical company which still exists today.

Having somehow found its way to the Isle of Wight, it must have been parked very close to the sea, and it showed – the whole of the front end was completely and utterly rusted out (including the sump!). However, I could see that it still had some merit as both sills and chassis rails were solid. The engine was an unknown quantity, as it had stood for so long and a neighbour had robbed its alternator for their Ford Fiesta (I’m assuming the Ford used a similar Lucas unit). The car was towed the 15-or-so miles home from its resting place (a front garden) by the local Dolomite Club rep, on the back of a his Mk1 Triumph 2000.

The first job was to get the front end rebuilt. Panels were expensive, but I had a stroke of luck in finding a pair of decent second-hand wings at a local autojumble. Another whole donor car was purchased to cut off the front valance, and it also provided me with other much-needed parts (like a sump!). With the welding completed and all parts fitted, the car was in sufficiently solid condition to put through an MoT, which it passed, more or less two years after I’d bought it for £25…

No rot at all in the front valance of Alan's Dolomite - it wasn't always thus.
No rot at all in the front valance of Alan’s Dolomite – it wasn’t always thus

Then, around three years ago, my parents (after selling their bungalow and moving into sheltered accommodation) presented me with a sizeable cheque with Dad telling me “there, you finally get that bloody old car fixed up”.

Some of the money did go towards completing the body restoration. This consisted of replacement doors, a new boot lid, replacement bonnet, rear wheel arch repairs, repairs to the roof and a full respray, all carried out to a high standard by my trusted restorer. I have since replaced the seats and refurbished the interior. The engine and drivetrain have only ever required scheduled maintenance, though I have recently fitted reconditioned carburettors and an electronic ignition.

The car gets used whenever possible, regardless of the weather. To keep the rust at bay, I maintain a strict schedule of waxoyling and to date the car hasn’t ever required any structural welding –  fingers crossed it stays that way!

Think your car would look good here? Please send Car of the Month entries in to craig@aronline.co.uk
Think your car would look good here? Please send Car of the Month entries in to craig@aronline.co.uk

 

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

27 Comments

  1. Good to see this feature return to aronline… Alan’s Dolomite looks mighty neat. I always thought these cars had a more upmarket image than say, Escorts and Viva’s. Obviously the Dolomite Sprint was the star model, but the rest of the range had something to offer most drivers.

    One of my clients had one (or was it a Toledo?)in 1979, which had quite a plush interior (better than our company Cortina 1.6 base estates). Seeing this car reminds me of how much I miss the Triumph brand.

  2. A SERIOUS piece of restoration, Alan! Your ‘Dolly’ now looks spotless!

    I always think the Dolomite face (in higher, sportier spec, anyway) looks simply great!

  3. Alan, the second sentence in my above comment is, perhaps, a bit ambiguous – Therefore, the front of yours looks simply great !!

  4. Glad to see Car of the Month is back on AROnline and it’s welcomed back with (my) open arms.

    What a heartwarming tale this is about your Dolly Alan. What was due to be sent to the claws of the crusher. Which has been saved it, restored it and been given it a whole new lease of life for the car. It’s a real assett to you Alan and you should be proud of what you’ve done.

  5. *Anorak alert*
    Surely that’s not a 1500HL, but a Dolomite, pure and simple?
    It’s an N reg, so it’s a 1975 registered car, with the 1854cc slant four engine. (DVLA confirms)
    According to Wikipedia, the spoiler was standard on Dolomites from 1975.

    My father bought his 1500TC in March 1976, it was P registered, and was then the latest model available.
    This car has plated metal wheel centre caps and a black DOLOMITE badge on the front, later cars had black plastic centre caps with silver stick-on badges which fell off!
    Also, later models like the 1500HL had a silver TRIUMPH badge in the centre of the grille, replacing the black Toledo, 1500, Dolomite, or SPRINT badges. Sadly, such major (cough) rationalization failed to save the company.

  6. Always loved Dollie’s & great to see this one saved from oblivion by such enthusiasm. Great story & also nice to see the owners’ enthusiam even rubbed off on his parents; made me smile.

    As for a rusted sump? Wow, that would be a bridge too far for me & I take off my recently attached hat to you for perserverance.

    Btw, any pics from the time of its find? Especially on the back of the Mk1.

      • Alan, I’ve just taken a look at these pictures. I already realised that your restoration would have involved a huge amount of work. I’m even more impressed after viewing these pictures!

        I’ve just started a new job and now pass a yellow Dolomite daily. It’s an 1850, possibly a Sprint. I see it just outside Chester on the A540 headed towards Wirral.

  7. The Dolomite was an interesting car when it came out -luxury in a smaller car, but with a high (for its time) performance engine.

    i’m amazed no-one else followed the idea up. Oh…B…M…er.

  8. Very nice car, Alan. Although I am particulary fond of the Sprint model (room for one in my imaginary garage…) its nice to see one of the other varieties preserved. Its also a very nice colour (very much the right side of beige!) and those wheels are also very attractive.

    The Dolly is one of those designs that has aged very well indeed- it was a good job they didn’t have the money to restyle it, as they got the styling right from the beginning of that model, and it still looks both pretty and well proportioned.

  9. Lovely images, such a shame that this beautifully refurbished example, of one of the motoring world’s best ever small sporting saloons, has been destroyed since the hard work was completed. I have seen a car fire myself and it isn’t pretty. My condolences to the owner. 🙁

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