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Tri­als Tri­umphs

Yet the Tri­umph 2000’s record sheet in tri­als was per­haps even more im­pres­sive. Kerry Lay’s 2000 won the 1968 Cas­trol Gold Star trial in the North Is­land, fin­ish­ing sec­ond only to Blair Rob­son’s 3.0-litre Ze­phyr for the sea­son, while the 2000 of Ron Per­illo fin­ished eighth. Per­illo won the 1970 Levin Gold Star trial and the Tisco Gold Star event the same year. Another Tri­umph 2000 in the hands of Ross Hal­dane won the Tisco event in 1971, while Noel Curtis joined the tri­als com­pe­ti­tion in his Tri­umph 2000. Curtis won the Otago Gold Star trial and Can­ter­bury Gold Star, emerg­ing win­ner of the 1971 Gold Star tri­als and ral­lies cham­pi­onship for the sea­son af­ter Per­illo’s Tri­umph dropped a valve with just 80km to run in the 644km (400-mile) fi­nal round. Hal­dane took third over­all, mak­ing it a onetwo-three for the Tri­umph 2000.

Hal­dane con­tin­ued to cam­paign his 1965 model 2000, win­ning the 1972 Tisco rally and North­ern Sports Car Club Cas­trol Gold Star, de­spite brake fail­ure. Neil Johns took his 2.5 PI to tenth in the 1972 Heat­way Rally, but by

Tri­umph Tale

En­thu­si­asm for the Tri­umph be­gan right from the un­veil­ing of the Gio­vanni Mich­e­lot­tistyled 2000 — a real ad­vance on the old Stan­dard Vanguard. Rover may have stolen some of Tri­umph’s thun­der by an­nounc­ing its rad­i­cal 2000 sedan in Eng­land in Oc­to­ber 1963, one week be­fore the Tri­umph broke cover, but the lat­ter boasted the ad­van­tage of six-cylin­der power, and it would be five years be­fore Rover in­tro­duced its V8-pow­ered ver­sion of the P6.

UK pro­duc­tion of the Tri­umph did not com­mence un­til early 1964, with the first ex­am­ples ar­riv­ing in New Zealand later the same year.

Typ­i­cal of lo­cal buy­ers was my fa­ther, who wanted to trade out of his Ford Zo­diac MKIII and looked at both the then new Tri­umph and Rover. The Rover 2000 was more dif­fi­cult to ac­quire, since it re­mained a fully im­ported model un­til 1968, when a lo­cal CKD pro­gramme was im­ple­mented. At £1900 ($3800) the Rover also cost more than the £1485 ($2970) Tri­umph. How­ever, it was the at­trac­tion of the six-cylin­der en­gine that fi­nally en­ticed my fa­ther, and a lo­cally as­sem­bled Tri­umph 2000 MKI won the day. His pas­sion for the model re­sulted in the later pur­chase of a new MKII.

In 1964 a new Ze­phyr 6 re­tailed for £1228 ($2456) so the Tri­umph was never con­sid­ered cheap — but this didn’t de­ter buy­ers.

Tri­umph Tattle

Aus­tralia and South Africa ran a lo­calassem­bly pro­gramme for the 2000, but New Zealand was ar­guably the most suc­cess­ful ex­port ter­ri­tory. A lim­ited num­ber were as­sem­bled at the Stan­dard–tri­umph plant in Christchurch be­fore Mo­tor As­sem­blies Ltd, the man­u­fac­tur­ing di­vi­sion of Ley­land Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion of New Zealand, bought the un­com­pleted build­ing at the Nel­son cot­ton mill site in 1964, and be­gan assem­bly of the 2000 MKI in Oc­to­ber 1965. Some 7070 MKI sa­loons were built at Nel­son un­til De­cem­ber 1969, with assem­bly of the MKII com­menc­ing the fol­low­ing month. Be­tween Oc­to­ber 1965 and March 1979, the Nel­son plant as­sem­bled 29,903 ex­am­ples (of which 22,833 were MKIIS), the most pop­u­lar ver­sion, the 2500TC MKII, ac­count­ing for 10,776 units.

half of all 2000 sedans built in Nel­son were man­u­als, with an ad­di­tional 15 per cent fit­ted with a man­ual gear­box and over­drive, leav­ing just 35 per cent as au­to­mat­ics.

In 1971 the 2500 PI was just on $5000, with the 2500TC about $700 cheaper. The fuel-in­jected model was phased out early in 1976, and the last of the 2500s in 1979 were $11,972 or $12,674 for the auto. The 2500S model in­tro­duced in 1978 came with a heated rear win­dow, tachome­ter, power steer­ing and sports wheels.

When Neil Johns was cam­paign­ing his 2.5 PI he fit­ted a TR6 camshaft with more over­lap, ad­justable shock ab­sorbers and a lim­ited slip dif­fer­en­tial from his faith­ful Tri­umph 2000 MKI in which he did well over 50,000 miles (over 84,467km). The 2.5 PI had no rat­tles or clunks af­ter the rugged roads and pound­ing of the Heat­way rally.

Tri­umph Test­ing

Rewind to 1964 and the launch of the 2000 with an in­di­vid­ual spec­i­fi­ca­tion that in­cluded a well-sorted in­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion — and when I tested one of the first lo­cally as­sem­bled 2000s 50 years ago, the stan­dard of fin­ish was ex­cel­lent and the car’s han­dling was deemed far bet­ter than ri­val sixes of the day.

The mar­ket quickly warmed to the car’s Ital­ian styling and Bri­tish em­bel­lish­ments such as wood cap­pings on the dash­board and doors. Buy­ers com­pared the car to the more costly Jaguar 3.4, Daim­ler 2.5-litre, Hum­ber Hawk and Wolse­ley 6/110 plus, of course, the Rover 2000 and liked the car as it was not too large or os­ten­ta­tious, rep­re­sent­ing a fine bal­ance be­tween aus­ter­ity and ex­ces­sive lux­ury.

Us­ing the Vanguard en­gine — the only di­rect legacy from the old Stan­dard — power

was upped from a mod­est 80bhp (60kw) to 90bhp (67kw), with a higher com­pres­sion ra­tio and a pair of Stromberg 150 CD car­bu­ret­tors.

There were changes to the cylin­der head and im­proved breath­ing, and the en­gine was in­clined 10 de­grees to the right. When the MKII came on stream the range was ex­tended with the 106bhp (79kw) 2500TC and sim­i­larly pow­ered 2500S. As the first Bri­tish saloon fit­ted with fuel in­jec­tion, the car re­ally came alive with the ar­rival of the 2500 PI op­tion, although the long-stroke pushrod en­gine could hardly have been classed as cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy.

Mi­nor cylin­der-head mod­i­fi­ca­tions were ap­plied to the 2000 MKII that de­vel­oped the same power as its pre­de­ces­sor, but iron­i­cally over­heat­ing and head prob­lems were fre­quent when the car first ar­rived here. My fa­ther’s MKII was not as re­li­able as the MKI that he ran for five years, com­ing to a halt with a leak­ing clutch cylin­der when just two days old. The clutch con­tin­ued to give trou­ble, be­ing re­placed within the ini­tial 1600km, only to be re­placed a sec­ond time. This same car was also dogged with oil leaks fore and aft of the gear­box, plus an in­ter­mit­tent mis­fire fi­nally traced to a faulty ig­ni­tion coil.

There were nu­mer­ous other prob­lems with this MKII, and I was amazed my fa­ther still con­sid­ered the Tri­umph a top-qual­ity car — but hark at the de­val­u­a­tion of money and the seem­ingly fru­gal costs of run­ning a new Tri­umph 2000 in 1972: the an­nual li­cence was $21.40, a six-monthly war­rant of fit­ness cost $2 and com­pre­hen­sive an­nual in­sur­ance was $37, while de­pre­ci­a­tion amounted to just over $700 for the year.

When test­ing the MKII model on lo­cal roads in 1970, a com­plaint about per­for­mance prompted Bri­tish Ley­land to pro­vide me with a sec­ond car, which had a slip­ping clutch. The prob­lem was re­solved with a third 2000, but my ex­pe­ri­ence raised raised ques­tions over re­li­a­bil­ity.

The 2000 marked the end of the Stan­dard name, and was seen on the home mar­ket as a mod­ern coun­ter­part to the 2.0-litre Tri­umph Renown that ran from 1946 un­til 1955. Half a cen­tury ago the Tri­umph 2000 was reck­oned to hold golden prospects with its mod­ern tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions, full equip­ment, roomi­ness and pleas­ing pro­por­tions, and to a large ex­tent it achieved these as­pi­ra­tions. Prime Min­is­ter Robert Mul­doon had at least two of these Tri­umphs, in­clud­ing a blue 2500 and a white 2500S.

To­day’s BMW 3 Se­ries and Mercedes-benz C-class sedans are less af­ford­able equiv­a­lents to the long-gone Tri­umph 2000 but, in a far less re­stric­tive mod­ern era, the Ger­man chal­lengers can scarcely hope to make the same im­pres­sion as the Bri­tish car.

New Zealan­ders en­joyed a 15-year love af­fair with the Tri­umph 2000, and these cars are still re­mem­bered with warmth by many mo­tor­ing en­thu­si­asts.

The 2.5 PI was the per­for­mance flag­ship of the Tri­umph 2500 line-up, although the Lu­cas fuel in­jec­tion could be trou­ble­some

Kerry Lay’s Mark 1 Tri­umph 2000 on its way to win­ning the 1968 Cas­trol 1000 three- day trial run by the North­ern Sports Car Club The Tri­umph 2.5 PI of Alan Woolf on its way to eighth place in the 1970 Golden 100 race at Pukekohe An early Stan­dard-tri­ump

Bri­tish Ley­land Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion of New Zealand ad­ver­tise­ment for the Tri­umph 2000 MKII in 1970 Only 576 of the 2500S mod­els were as­sem­bled at Nel­son. This was the lo­cal brochure pre­pared for the model built in the fi­nal year of the car’s pro­duc­tion

Catch me if you can! Fuel-in­jected Tri­umphs were pop­u­lar with the UK po­lice Iconic Tri­umph — An­drew Cowan’s World Cup Rally 2.5 PI

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