Tri­umph Ti­gress Short lived scooter

Sur­viv­ing ex­am­ples of the BSA/Tri­umph groups 1960s ‘su­per scooter’ are now ex­tremely rare but Andy Moore is al­ways on the look­out for un­usual small wheel­ers and it was a lucky day for him when he spied a Tri­umph Ti­gress ad­ver­tised in his Vin­tage Scooter c

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - Story and pho­tos Andy West­lake

There were a cou­ple of parts miss­ing but amaz­ingly from the day it was first reg­is­tered in Ayr­shire in 1959 it had cov­ered a mere 1,950 miles from new and al­though ex­tremely rough af­ter ly­ing unloved in a shed for many years it was ripe for restora­tion. Its pur­chase trig­gered the start of twelve months of hard work for Andy who with restora­tion now com­pleted in­vited me along to take his gleam­ing bike for a ride through the North Som­er­set lanes. There’s no doubt he’s done a su­perb job restor­ing the Ti­gress back to her orig­i­nal glory but per­haps we should re­flect on the day in late 1958 when the model was first launched.

There was a great flurry of pub­lic­ity from the BSA/Tri­umph group when the Ti­gress and its BSA Sun­beam sta­ble­mate were an­nounced, and with an on-the-road price of £180 18s 9d the bike’s cre­ator Ed­ward Turner was con­fi­dent they had a ma­chine ca­pa­ble of tak­ing on the best from Italy and Ger­many. Sadly as his­tory records Turner’s op­ti­mism was not based on the re­al­ity of the mar­ket and scooter sales were about to go into a sud­den and steep de­cline. The golden era had passed and al­though the Ti­gress and Sun­beam in both its twin cylin­der four stroke and sin­gle cylin­der two stroke ver­sions sur­vived un­til 1965, sales were poor and it was deemed a com­mer­cial fail­ure. That is not to say it wasn’t a de­cent ma­chine be­cause with a top speed of over 70mph and 120mpg fuel econ­omy from its frame-mounted en­gine the TW2 of­fered a level of per­for­mance su­pe­rior to that usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with scoot­ers. Some­thing Mo­tor­cy­cle Me­chan­ics tester Brian Smith dis­cov­ered when he sam­pled the 250cc twin in March 1962; here’s an ex­tract from his re­port. “The great flex­i­bil­ity of the ma­chine was en­hanced by the gen­eral com­fort. There was very lit­tle noise from the en­gine and vi­bra­tion only be­came dis­tract­ing at high rpm – I had only rid­den the ma­chine a cou­ple of miles when I re­alised here was a scooter which was def­i­nitely out of the or­di­nary. The steer­ing, road­hold­ing and gen­eral per­for­mance were equal to many mo­tor­cy­cles and bet­ter than most scoot­ers.” It wasn’t all praise how­ever and Smith went on to say... “The neu­tral se­lec­tor was not al­ways re­li­able and not only was the tank too small but the tap was un­der the seat mak­ing life dif­fi­cult. And as there was no ig­ni­tion key, just a switch, any­one could drive the ma­chine away!” I’ve no idea whether the Ti­gress was a tar­get for thieves back in the six­ties but they were cer­tainly a rare sight out­side our lo­cal cof­fee bar. That of course was the do­main of the LD Lam­bretta and the park­abe­decked mod so who did the BSA group en­vis­age as the typ­i­cal buyer/rider of its 250cc twin? With a full line up of ‘Waver­ley’ ac­ces­sories – which in­cluded a wind­screen, spare wheel and tour­ing pan­niers – the TW2 was in Ed­ward Turner’s words ‘aimed at the bet­ter half of the mid­dle of the scooter mar­ket. Per­haps in Turner’s eyes this cus­tomer was as de­picted in Meri­den’s pe­riod ad­ver­tis­ing brochure with a rather portly mid­dle aged man and a fe­male wear­ing a strange long bob­ble hat but whether this sec­tor ac­tu­ally ex­isted or it was just an ill-judged pub­lic­ity state­ment is open to de­bate. The later TW2/S even had 12 volt electrics and an elec­tric starter but the re­al­ity was the bike had been launched five years too late and as a re­sult BSA/Tri­umph missed a great op­por­tu­nity to gain a ma­jor foot­ing in the lu­cra­tive scooter mar­ket.

Fifty years on there are now few Ti­gress or Sun­beams around in the UK – es­pe­cially with less than 2,000 miles on the clock – and back home in his work­shop Andy soon dis­cov­ered the rea­son it had been laid up so early in its work­ing life. “It was pretty rough but not too rusty and for­tu­nately the only things miss­ing were the back mud­guard and the points cover. It was ob­vi­ously in need of to­tal restora­tion but be­fore I started to strip it down I cleaned the car­bu­ret­tor and the points and man­aged to get it run­ning. There was a lot of cough­ing and splut­ter­ing and on ex­am­in­ing the car­bu­ret­tor I dis­cov­ered that al­though it had the po­si­tion in its body where the mix­ture screw should be, it had never been drilled out. It sim­ply didn’t have a mix­ture screw so it was lit­tle won­der it had done so few miles, I as­sume the orig­i­nal owner couldn’t get it to run prop­erly and gave up on it. De­spite the rough­ness the en­gine ac­tu­ally sounded me­chan­i­cally quite sweet which made me op­ti­mistic that I wasn’t go­ing to find any­thing hor­ren­dously wrong when I delved in­side. At that time I knew lit­tle or noth­ing about the TW2 but the chair­man of the Mo­tor scooter club was ex­tremely help­ful and thanks to him I man­aged to source a rear mud­guard and a points cover.” It might not have been a com­mer­cial suc­cess but in its day the Tri­umph and the iden­ti­cal BSA

“I’ve no idea whether the Ti­gress was a tar­get for thieves back in the six­ties but they were cer­tainly a rare sight out­side our lo­cal cof­fee bar.”

In­stru­men­ta­tion, or rather, in­stru­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.