Triumph Dolomite Sprint
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.