The best left?

Jul 1, 2015

Last year this pristine 1968 Triumph Herald surfaced with the speedo showing less than 100 miles from new. It was for sale for £16000. I hope it found a good home.

Triumph Herald as new

Pristine Herald 1200



Corny rubbish title I know, but it’s a title that’s been used quite often for articles in car and “classic” car magazines over the years !!! On Boxing Day, I found I had an hour to spare before lunch. I decided to have a look at my 1967 Triumph Herald 13/60, owned since 1980, which, according to the tax disc was last on the road in 1993 and which has resided in a neighbour’s garage since 1999. My last visit must have been five years ago! A sudden compulsion to exhume the vehicle came over me. Pump up two tyres. A fresh battery. No go. It’s a tight fit (and gloomy) inside the garage so I decided to push the car into the daylight. Of course the brakes (and clutch) were seized solid. But with the car in first gear using the starter motor I managed to wind the car out in a series of hops and skips. Whilst I was “moving” I thought the best thing to do was to keep going!! It took 15 minutes to hop/travel the distance of 8 houses before the car was safely on my own drive. I must have looked a comical sight. It would have made a great piece for UToob. Curtains twitched but no-one came out to give me a push!! Lifting the bonnet, the starter motor and earth strap from the battery to the bodywork were too hot to touch. I took a spark plug out. It was completely dry. So I need to find out what’s stopping the fuel flowing. I know they say modern fuel goes off rather quickly and can gum up pipes and carbs. But this car’s petrol tank contains good old 4* from 1993 which I expected would still work. Perhaps I’ll have to drain the tank. My Triumph Herald isn’t quite as bad as this example found on the Interweb but, seeing it in daylight now it needs loads of work on every single aspect. When it was re-sprayed in 1982 it looked ok. It had just been completely dismantled and “rebuilt” by myself. It is a true Frankenstein’s vehicle. The rear body tub is from a 1964 Vitesse 1600cc. The roof is from a 12/50. Driver’s door is from a Convertible. Passenger’s door is from a Bond GT4S. That was a big mistake. In 1982 the car was a rolling restoration and consequently was driven for a few weeks complete with Bond and Convertible door glasses!! As they are different shapes to the saloon glass I couldn’t fully wind up the windows until I’d got round to changing them. It’s more time-consuming than you realise. Glassfibre sills and valances came from an ad in “Exchange and Mart”. Even the bootlid was sourced from another car. The bonnet obviously is from a Bond. Once it even sported a Tristan Convertible conversion kit instead of the metal roof !! Now I guess a proper restoration would be relatively “easy” (if I threw enough money at it that is). Something must be done or it just becomes a 14 foot long metallic garden ornament!!! herald2

The older you get, the more thoughts of the past there are to think about….I think. I had a strangely un-nerving experience of deja-vu the other day. Walking down a corridor I suddenly had a flash-back to the 1970s where in a different corridor in a different city I was having a “flash-forward” to 2011. It’s difficult to put into words…. And then yesterday whilst driving along a road I now rarely visit I suddenly developed total recall of the sights, smells and sounds of driving around that same bend many years ago in a 1960s car, whole vehicle creaking like an C18th galleon, looking out through the letterbox-windscreen, watching the speedo needle bouncing up and down, hearing the rattling tappetts and the buzzing noise from the gearlever, the wind whistling around the flapping hood, the increasingly loud rattle of the bonnet as the side catches loosened and not forgetting the constant whineing of the rear differential. Just for a few moments and then it passed.

I regularly drove across these roads late at night in the 1970s piloting a variety of Triumph cars. Assorted Heralds/Vitesses/Spitfires and GT6s. My Herald Convertible was basic in the extreme compared to my current vehicle. Marginal motoring meant the “spare wheel” was usually on the car rather than in the boot. No RAC membership then, but I usually made it home. There was no point locking the doors at night when the plastic rear window on the hood was held on by staples and sellotape. Security was achieved by removing the rotor arm from the distributor when the vehicle was left in a pub car park. Tools were always at the ready. Once a bottle opener in the glove compartment came in useful to force open the clutch fluid cylinder when low fluid level had created a vacuum that made the screw top impossible to turn. I recall running out of petrol on one of these slip roads in the rain and the dark. The good old Standard-Triumph engineers had fitted the petrol tanks inside the boots of Triumph Heralds and kindly provided a “reserve” lever. Turning that lowered the petrol pipe slightly into the dregs of fuel and gave you a further half a gallon to continue your journey.

Hot car? Luke warm would be a better description.

         Here is a Triumph Herald 13/60 in Greece that hasn’t moved for a few days and may have trouble passing its next MOT.

They don’t make many films like this any more. “Soft top, hard shoulder” was a budget british “road” movie/comedy from 1992. From what I can recall, the plot revolved around a Scottish guy living in London who finds that he will inherit some money if (and only if) he can be in Glasgow within the next day or so. His only means of transport is a delapidated Triumph Herald. The majority of the film covers the trials and tribulations of his journey. Of course he soon finds he has aquired a hitch-hiker and inevitably meets a number of assorted odd characters along the way. I’ve almost talked myself into excavating my VHS video recorder to watch this again.

I bought the tape as I owned (still did last time I looked…..) a similar delapidated Triumph Herald to the one(s) featured in the film. Although mine wouldn’t make it to Glasgow now, it probably would have back in 1992. The cover of the Video tape provided much hilarity. Instead of finding an appropriate still from the film someone drew a picture of the star of the film (the car) with an open bonnet. Things like this always make me roll my eyes in amazement. The artist had evidentally never seen the film and possibly never even seen a Triumph Herald for that matter. He drew the car with a conventional bonnet and fixed front wings rather than the correct whole-front-end-tilts-forward thing. Didn’t anyone look at the artwork, laugh, screw it up and tell him to go draw the car properly? No, they went ahead and sent it off to the printers !!

PS: I have seen a made-in-India version of a Triumph Herald (known as a Standard Gazel there I believe), the 1970s version (called a Mk 3 ?) of which was produced with four doors instead of the more usual two. The rear doors must have been rather tiny. I believe they also changed the front of the car to a traditional bonnet/fixed front wing arrangement so in the artist’s defence perhaps he was of Indian descent?

PPS: And just to contradict myself once more…..Quiller Triumph are currently selling their much-modified Triumph Herald. It has a TR6 engine, an auto box, a pickup rear body and a “conventional” bonnet. Actually the bonnet conversion must have been more time-consuming to achieve than the pickup rear end !!!

This is how a Triumph Herald/Vitesse bonnet should open.

Bond Equipe GT4S

Jun 13, 2009

Bond Equipe GT4S

My first car was a Triumph Herald 13/60. This was shortly followed by a Bond Equipe GT4S. Although I have fond memories of this vehicle it really was in diabolical condition for a 10 year old car. Bond Cars of Preston built a few thousand of these hybrid coupes between 1964 and 1970. This particular model featured a glassfibre body upon a Triumph Herald chassis with a Triumph Spitfire Mk 2 1200cc twin carb engine (Mk 3 1296cc for the years 1967 – 1970). Unfortunately they also used the metal Triumph Herald bulkhead, floorpan and doors. With zero rustproofing in those days and only a cursory coat of paint they rusted away from the underneath faster than an early 1960s Vauxhall Victor.

Bond Equipe GT4S2

British cars were evidentally easier to sell in the 1960s. Amazingly 2505 Bond Equipe GT4S cars were produced.There were also 444 of the earlier GT model and 1431 of the later (bodily revised) Equipe 2 litre in Mk 1, Mk2 and convertible form. I still own a 1967 Equipe 2 litre Mk 1 in white and rust (which is a story for another day).

PS: If you’re looking for more stuff about Bond cars (in their three and four wheel versions) go here.

PPS: Of course when I was younger/stronger/stupider it seemed to be a good idea to fix the rust by seperating body and chassis for easy access. A junior hacksaw blade “soon” cut through the mounting bolts and then it was the “simple” task of a person grasping each rear wheelarch and lifting. Nothing happened. I then remembered the handbrake cable was still connected. Once that was disconnected the car was in two halfs !!!


PPPS: Yes I know the rear outriggers under the boot floor are “wrong”. As far as I’m aware even when the cars were new these parts were unavailable. You just had to buy the Triumph Herald/Vitesse items and shorten them to suit. Also note the toe-in of the rear wheels without the weight of a body. Braking and/or taking your foot off the accelerator at speed on a tight bend in many of the early models of Equipe/Herald/Vitesse/Spitfire or GT6 could re-create this effect with dire consequences. To prevent the hassle of being upside down in a ditch or embedded in someone’s front garden wall the solution was to hang on tight and accelerate around bends !!!  Often the vehicles handled better with the weight of four occupants or (my own favourite solution) two or three paving slabs installed in the boot !!