Myth Buster

Tri­umph Dolomite Sprint

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

1 IT WAS THE FIRST BRI­TISH CAR WITH STAN­DARD AL­LOYS…

Al­loy wheels had been around for decades be­fore Tri­umph fit­ted them on its Dolomite Sprint; Bu­gat­tis had them way back in 1924. Nev­er­the­less, the 1973 Dolomite Sprint is of­ten cited as the first ever Bri­tish car with them as stan­dard, the fac­tory opt­ing for GKN (Guest, Keen and Net­tle­fields, a com­pany that can trace its his­tory back to 1759) cast al­loys. Trou­ble is, As­ton Martin got there four years pre­vi­ously, with GKN light al­loy wheels on its 1969 DBS V8.

2 …AND THE FIRST 16-VALVE

An­other feat was the Dolomite Sprint’s 16-valve en­gine, which many be­lieve was the first to make its way into a UK pro­duc­tion road car. Um, not quite. Bent­ley had 16-valve four-cylin­der en­gines as long ago as 1921 and there was Ford in 1970 with its 16-valve Cos­worth BDA twin-cam Ford Es­cort RS1600 MkI. But with just 947 built, it was hardly main­stream. How­ever, the Lo­tus Type 907 16-valve en­gine, based on Vaux­hall’s slant-four unit of 1967, es­caped into the JensenHealey in 1972, and 10,926 of those (plus 473 GT ver­sions) were made.

3 IT HAD A UNIQUE EN­GINE

The re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues with the Dolly’s 16-valve en­gine, plus Tri­umph’s rapidly fad­ing glory, meant that the mo­tor didn’t find the wide­spread use its sparkling per­for­mance (when work­ing prop­erly) de­served. How­ever, it did find its way into one other car, which isn’t widely known about. Be­tween 59 and 61 Tri­umph TR7 Sprints were built in 1977, as ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cials. Th­ese 225bhp 7s might have gone into full pro­duc­tion had not a 17-week long strike re­sulted in the clo­sure of Tri­umph’s Speke plant in 1978. Shame…

Dolly Sprint shared its en­gine with the su­per-rare Tri­umph TR7 Sprint.

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