It is 60 years since Triumph released its new small car, the Herald, but don’t expect all of the hoopla and shouting that accompanied the Mini reaching the same milestone.
Rest assured the devotees of the Herald will be much more dignified, reflecting the upper market positioning of Triumph’s target buyers.
An unusual aspect of the Herald was that it sat on a full chassis.
Most small cars of the era were of unitary construction.
Triumph were forced into it because their body supplier had been taken over by an unco-operative British Motor Corporation, but a chassis and bolt on panels allowed them to manufacture the car themselves.
An upside of the chassis was that the panels were not load carrying parts of the car and could be simply bolted onto the frame.
This gave rise to one of the most striking features of the Herald.
Its entire front end panel assembly — bonnet, grille and fenders — opened up from the firewall forward to reveal the wheels, engine, suspension and steering.
The downside was that if it was hit or bumped there was a good chance the assembly would be out of alignment and not latch closed.
Other features of the new car were quite novel at the time for its price.
It boasted independent rear suspension, an incredibly tight turning circle, a collapsible and adjustable steering column, and a greatly reduced maintenance schedule through use of nylon and rubber bushes that virtually eliminated grease fittings on the chassis.
Model line up comprised a convertible, a coupe, two-door sedan and wagon — all released over a period of 18 months.
The styling was done by Michelotti in Italy and the result is one of those designs that you either like or dislike.
It is all sharp angles and straight lines.
Half a million Heralds were built.
Production stopped in 1971, which probably says more about the state of the British car industry that it could be sold for over a decade than the Herald itself.
In Australia, the car was assembled by Australian Motor Industries from parts shipped from the UK from 1959 to 1966.
You do not see many Heralds these days, though they have a devoted following.
I saw one recently advertised online for $5 — yep, $5.
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