Mods & Consequences
s compact cars with a touch of luxury, the focus for Triumph’s small saloons was less on outright performance and more on comfort and refinement – apart from the Dolomite Sprint of course – but there are plenty of things you can do to make to them more compatible with 21st century driving.
It’s not all about performance, either; if it was, everybody would start with a Dolomite Sprint, but they’re getting quite collectable now, and that 16-valve engine can be temperamental. Besides, the 1300 engine is a sweet free-revving unit that responds well to oldfashioned tuning methods.
Invest in a breathed-on cylinder head and you’ll have a car that’ll likely be more reliable than a Sprint and almost as powerful with the right fuelling and exhaust.
The 1300 was a single-carburettor unit but the other powerplants had twin carbs. Fit Dolomite 1500 inlet and exhaust manifolds with twin carbs and you’ll get almost as much power as a 1500 will produce.
The Triumph Dolomite Club’s Bruce Jones says: ‘A lot of our members like sleepers so they fit modern engines but don’t change the looks too much. One member
Ahas built a 2.2-litre Vauxhall-powered Toledo while other cars feature Cosworth YB Turbo, Nissan CA18 Turbo, Ford Zetec, Mazda MX-5 or Rover V8 engines – one member has even fitted a Stag V8 to his car.’
Fitting overdrive is worthwhile because no model got it as standard; the Spitfire 1500 overdrive gearbox will mate with the 1300, 1500 and 1850 engines, but not the Sprint, as its gearbox is derived from the sixcylinder saloon’s. Also, the 1850 and 1500 bellhousings and clutch release mechanisms are different.
Brake upgrades are worthwhile too. Changing the front drum brakes of an early Toledo to disc and servo is relatively easy. You can do it for £350 on a DIY basis. If discs are already fitted it’s worth upgrading to a TrackerJack conversion which uses VW Golf GTI 260mm vented brake discs and Ford Sierra single-pot calipers. It’s a weekend’s work and a little bit of machining is needed (plus you’ll need to get some hoses made up) but your brakes will be transformed for around £350.
‘Club members have fitted Ford Zetec and Cosworth turbo engines. Another has fitted a Stag V8’