Triumph Herald – Buyer’s Guide

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Triumph Herald 1200 SportsThe Triumph Herald is fun, stylish and easy to work on Above all, Triumph Heralds are cheap to buy and live with. If you’re prepared to put up with the tatty bodywork, £1,800 will buy you a convertible or coupe, and a saloon or estate will cost half that. Running coasts are minimal, with over 30mpg achievable. The convertible is one of the few four-seater open-tops in the budget price range, and the hood is snug enough to make the car bearable all year round. When the weather is warm get the top down and savour your transformation into the most envied car owner in town. The downside is the risk of vandalism and theft, as well as the inevitable draughts and wind noise of a soft top. A glass fibre hardtop is one way round the problem; or compromise further with the cheaper, roomier saloons – many have a full-length sunroof. A saloon feels more airy inside than a convertible with its hood up, thanks to large windows and tiny screen pillars. You could opt for the rarer coupe. These are two-seaters which Herald enthusiasts swoon at the sight of. Triumph Herald AdvertFinally, there is the estate and the courier van. Not as pretty as the rest, certainly not as common in good condition, but oh, so practical… Whichever type you choose, it will have a separate chassis, which was old-fashioned even in 1959, when the Herald was introduced. It was chosen simply because Standard Triumph was unable to find a body pressing plant able to produce a shell in one piece. The rear body and floor were produced as a single section, the front bulkhead and floor as another, with inner and outer front wings combined with the bonnet to make a forward-tilting one-piece front. The result: unrivalled access to the engine and front suspension, and present day ease of restoration that refurbishes of more conventionally built cars can only dream of. Where Heralds, particularly early models, fall down is in performance. None are dangerously slow but if you do a lot of motorway driving you should avoid the 98s, especially the single-carburettor versions. For everybody 13/60s (with the more sloping bonnet front) are best, though 1200s don’t lag far behind. Opt for one with disc brakes, not drums, if possible. Triumph Herald 13-60Around town a Herald is in its element. The light, accurate steering with a 25 foot turning circle, precise gearchange and excellent all-round vision (except a hood-up convertible) makes for a car that’s great for dealing with the traffic. Pushed hard, the handling goes from roll-free and enjoyable to mildly frightening. The problem lies with the independent rear suspension, which generates a change in wheel camber if you brake or lift off the accelerator halfway into a faster corner. Suddenly you’re in a big slide. You would have to be pretty unlucky to experience this behaviour unwittingly but if you want to drive any of these Triumphs hard it would be advisable to fit either a lowered rear spring (from Triumphtune, part of the Moss organisation) or a ‘swing swing’ conversion kit. Rust afflicts Heralds as badly as it does any British car of the period. Pay close attention to the chassis around the differential, outriggers, and, on convertibles, rear bodywork. Bonnets are tricky to build (and hugely expensive to replace) but most panels are available; even front valances. Avoid cars with wildly varying panel gaps resulting from amateur body-off restorations. Basic specification: 1958-71: Four-cylinder, overhead-value, 948cc, 1,147cc or 1,296cc; 34.5bhp-61bhp; 48lb ft-73lb ft. Four-speed gearbox, no synchromesh on first. Coil-over-shock twin-wishbone front suspension, transverse-leaf rear. Separate chassis; rear body and front bulkhead bolt on. Performance: 0-60mph 30.4-17.7sec; max 70-85mph Prices: Under £500: Saloon needing extensive body work. Near-dead convertible/coupe £500 - £1,000: Usable saloon/estate with MoT or running, rusty convertible/coupe £1,000 - £1,500: Very good saloon/estate; tatty, reliable MoT’d convertible/coupe £1.500 - £2,000: Perfect, low- mileage saloon. Estate; tidy, reliable convertible/coupe £2,000 - £2,500: Excellent coupe or 1200 convertible, very good 13/60 convertible Above £2,500: Superb, totally original or professionally rebuilt 13/60 convertible Triumph Herald Model Evolution: April 1959: Saloon and coupe introduced with 948cc engine and fibreboard dash. March 1960: Convertible added to range. February 1961: Budget Herald S model introduced; 1200 range (1,147cc) launched. White rubber bumpers fitted. March 1961: Estate version joins 1200 range. Single-carburettor 948s dropped. June 1961: Twin-carb 948s dropped; 1200s only. February 1962: Courier van introduced March 1963: New ‘luxury’ 12/50 saloon: sunroof, heater and disc brakes standard. January 1964: Herald S discounted. October 1964: 1200 coupe and Courier discounted. August 1967: Herald 12/50 discounted. New 1,296cc 13/60 range launched. September 1967: 1200 convertible and estate dropped. May 1970: Last 1200 saloon produced. December 1970: 13/60 saloon discontinued. May 1971: 13/60 convertible and estate dropped. Clubs: Triumph Sports Six Club: Club Triumph: Triumph Sporting Owners Club: Club Triumph Eastern: Mechanics: Triumph Herald 1200Engine: Based on Standard 8/10 unit. Three options: 948cc, 1,147cc and 1,296cc. Some spares for 948cc can be tricky to find. Oil light may not extinguish immediately (sometimes Accompanied by rumble from main bearings, particularly with 13/60s) on start-up – this is acceptable unless it continues longer than a few seconds. Watch the end of the crankshaft while someone pushes the clutch, to spot movement caused by worn thrust bearings. Worn bearings mean an engine stripdown will be needed. Gearbox: No synchromesh on first, although all-syncho conversions available. Gearlever often vibrates with a ‘zinging’ noise, which is easily and cheaply cured by fitting new linkage bushes. Aftermarket overdrive conversion based on Spitfire ‘box very worthwhile (difficult to fit to pre-July 1962 cars with Mk1 classic). Running gear: Weakest link is in front suspension swivels, known as trunnions. These should be lubricated (with EP90 oil, not grease) regularly or they may seize and snap. Rack-and-pinion steering should be free of play but steering column bushes often wear (check for up-and-down movement at wheel). Different noise (low hum above 25mph) is common, as are clonks from driveshaft universal joints. Vibration from around 55mph means the propshaft needs balancing. Rear wheel bearings need special tool to replace. Electrics: No fuses except on headlight flasher of 13/60 but electrics rarely give trouble. Positive earth on 948s and 1200s until March 1968. Interior: Vinyl seat coverings are extremely tough and only look untidy in high-mileage or roughly treated cars. Carpets are not as durable and replacements are often of poor quality. Early dashboards are made of compressed fibreboard; later (wood) facia veneer sometimes flakes or fades. Sunroofs are expensive to refurbish. Parts: Most parts are available but a few remanufactured panels are of poor quality.Tags:,