Mods & Con­se­quences

Tri­umph saloons

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Richard Dredge

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’

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