3 September 2021

More than an old car #177: Triumph Herald

Currently I have some time to spare and I felt it would be good to catch up on the backlog. These few days, I aim to look through the archives from years back and see if I can dig out interesting pictures to write on. This picture was taken more than 5 years ago (how time flies!) and this very carpark has been closed recently for redevelopment. However, finding this 1967 Triumph Herald 1200 there was pretty much a stroke of luck!

Towards the end of the 1950s, the Standard-Triumph (ST) company were offering a range of 2-seater Triumph sports cars along with Standard-brand saloons. However, the cars were due for an update and ST began work on what would be the Herald. Initially, the Herald was supposed to be sold under the Standard brand as it fit the model naming scheme (Ensign, Pennant and Standard itself), but this was changed as the Triumph name had more brand equity. 

Giovanni Michelotti was commissioned to style the car, and he quickly developed designs for a 2-door saloon that gave 93% all-round visibility and razor-edge looks which were getting popular. The car featured a separate chassis from the body, and each panel could be unbolted so that different body styles could be used. The instruments only featured a single large speedometer with a fuel gauge on the dashboard, although slightly more perks were available in the saloon. Initially, coupes and saloons fitted with a 948 cc engine were the only versions available, and a convertible was introduced in 1960. 

ST ran into financial difficulties in 1960 and was taken over by Leyland Motors in 1961. This released more resources for the Herald's development and led to the introduction of the 1200, featuring a larger engine, rubber-covered bumpers and a wooden laminated dashboard among other changes. A 3-door estate and a van version known as the Courier were also introduced. The 948 cc cars were phased out by 1964, and around this time an upmarket version known as the Herald 12/50 also made an appearance. It was only available in 2-door saloon form and was distinguished by a vinyl-fabric sunroof (as a standard option) and a fine-barred aluminum grille. 

October 1967 saw the entry of the Herald 13/60 with a restyled front end, and the sunroof was available as an option instead. Engine size increased to 1296 cc and the Herald continued to persist until its style and performance became severely outdated. The Herald was popular enough to outlive the Triumph 1300, which was intended to be the Herald's successor. Interestingly, Heralds remained popular enough for their chassis to be used as kit cars due to the separation between body and chassis mentioned previously.

This particular unit had the 1147 cc OHV i4 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 74 mph (119 km/h) with an acceleration of 28.6 seconds [0-60 mph]. It was 3886 mm long and weighed 800 kg, with a fuel consumption of 34 mpg (7 litres / 100 km).

Production of the Herald ended in 1971 with more than 500,000 made, of which 43,299 were the 1200 convertibles. This unit is an original Singapore-registered car and it has gone through a handful of changes: a white stripe was added and the grille design was changed to the standard version (featuring the 2 individual grilles). It was by accident that I saw this car: apparently it was part of a wedding convoy which had stopped at the carpark. There are currently about 4 Heralds here (2 convertibles and 2 saloons), making them relatively scarce in this region. They continue to be unique cars to own, in part of their background and the position it occupies among cars of the 1960s. 

One can only imagine the myriad experiences this unit has experienced over the years. For a car that is almost as old as the country, it still looks almost new and I am inclined to think that it runs well too. While it remains to be seen if it ever makes a reappearance again, this should not be stopping you to hopefully be able to identify it if you are lucky enough!

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