|1951 to 1971|
|Also called||Triumph 12/50 (Australia)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door saloon 2-door coupe 2-door convertible 2-door van 2-door estate car|
|Related||Triumph Vitesse Triumph Spitfire Triumph GT6|
|Engine||948 cc OHV I4 1147 cc OHV I4 (Herald 1200 & 12/50) 1296 cc OHV I4 (13/60)|
|Transmission||4-speed manual (synchromesh on 2nd 3rd and top gears, no overdrive)|
|Wheelbase||91 in (2,311 mm)|
|Length||153 in (3,886 mm)|
|Width||60 in (1,524 mm)|
|Height||52 in (1,321 mm)|
|Kerb weight||725 kg (1,600 lb) (1200 convertible) to 865 kg (1,910 lb) (13/60 estate)|
|Predecessor||Standard 8 / 10|
The Triumph Herald is a small two-door car introduced in 1959 by the Standard-Triumph Company of Coventry. Body design was by the Italian stylist Giovanni Michelotti, and the car was offered in saloon, convertible, coupé, van and estate models.
Total Herald sales numbered well over 500,000, and Heralds are still seen on British roads in the early 21st century. The Vitesse, Spitfire and GT6 are all based on modified Herald chassis and running gear with bolt-together bodies.
Sports car range prompts Italian-designed saloon
Towards the end of the 1950s Standard-Triumph offered a range of two-seater Triumph sports cars alongside its Standard saloons, the Standard 8 and 10, powered by a small (803 cc or 948 cc) 4-cylinder engine, which by the late 1950s were due for an update. Standard-Triumph therefore started work on the Herald. The choice of the Herald name suggests that the car was originally intended to be marketed as a Standard, as it fits the model-naming scheme of the time (Ensign, Pennant and Standard itself). But by 1959 it was felt that the Triumph name had more brand equity, and the Standard name was phased out in Britain after 1963.
Giovanni Michelotti was commissioned to style the car by the Standard-Triumph board, encouraged by chief engineer Harry Webster, and quickly produced designs for a two-door saloon with a large glass area that gave 93 per cent all-round visibility in the saloon variant and the "razor-edge" looks to which many makers were turning. As Fisher & Ludlow, Standard-Triumph's body suppliers became part of an uncooperative BMC, it was decided that the car should have a separate chassis rather than adopting the newer monocoque construction. The main body tub was bolted to the chassis and the whole front end hinged forward to allow access to the engine. Every panel – including the sills and roof – could be unbolted from the car so that different body styles could be easily built on the same chassis. Accordingly, in addition to the original coupé and saloon models, van, convertible and estate versions were on offer within two years.
The Standard Pennant's 4-cylinder 948 cc OHV engine and 4 speed manual gearbox was used with synchromesh on the top three gears and remote gear shift and driving the rear wheels. The rack and pinion steering afforded the Herald a tight 25 feet 0 inches (7.62 m) turning circle. Coil and double-wishbone front suspension was fitted, while the rear suspension, a new departure for Triumph, offered independent springing via a single transverse leaf-spring bolted to the top of the final drive unit and swing axles.
Instruments were confined to a single large speedometer with fuel gauge in the saloon (a temperature gauge was available as an option) on a dashboard of grey pressed fibreboard. The coupé dashboard was equipped with speedometer, fuel and temperature gauges, together with a lockable glovebox. The car had loop-pile carpeting and heater as standard. A number of extras were available including twin carburettors, leather seats, a wood-veneered dashboard, Telaflo shock absorbers and paint options.
In late 1958, prototype cars embarked on a test-run from Cape Town to Tangiers. An account of the journey was embellished by PR at the time. However only minor changes were deemed necessary between the prototype and production cars. The new car was launched at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 22 April 1959 but was not an immediate sales success, partly owing to its relatively high cost, approaching £700 (including 45 per cent Purchase Tax). In standard single-carburettor form the 34.5 bhp (26 kW) car was no better than average in terms of performance. A saloon tested by The Motor magazine in 1959 was found to have a top speed of 70.9 mph (114.1 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 31.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 34.5 miles per imperial gallon (8.2 L/100 km; 28.7 mpg-US) was recorded.
The rear suspension was criticised as yielding poor handling at the extremes of performance though the model was considered easy to drive with its good vision, light steering (smallest turning circle of any production car) and controls, and ease of repair.
Standard-Triumph experienced financial difficulties at the beginning of the 1960s and was taken over by Leyland Motors Ltd in 1961. This released new resources to develop the Herald and the car was re-launched with an 1147 cc engine as the Herald 1200. The new model featured white rubber bumpers, a wooden laminate dashboard and improved seating. Quality control was also tightened up. Twin carburettors were no longer fitted to any of the range as standard although they remained an option, the standard being a single down-draught Solex carburettor. Claimed maximum power of the Herald 1200 was 39 bhp (29 kW), as against the 34.5 bhp (25.7 kW) claimed for the 948 cc model. Disc brakes also became an option from 1962.
Sales picked up despite growing competition from the BMC Mini and the Ford Anglia. The convertible was popular as a 4-seater with decent weatherproofing and the estate made a practical alternative to the Morris Minor Traveller. The coupé was dropped from the range in late 1964 as it was by then in direct competition with the Triumph Spitfire.
The Triumph Courier van, a Herald estate with side panels in place of rear side windows, was produced from 1962 until 1966, but was dropped following poor sales. Production in England ceased in summer 1964. CKD assembly by MCA in Malta continued till late 1965, at least.
A sportier version, the Herald 12/50 Skylight Saloon, offered from 1963–67, featured a tuned engine with a claimed output of 51 bhp (38 kW) in place of the previous 39, along with a sliding (Webasto) vinyl-fabric sunroof and front disc brakes as standard. The 12/50 was fitted with a fine-barred aluminium grille. The power output of the 1200, which remained in production alongside the 12/50, was subsequently boosted to 48 bhp.
In October 1967 the range was updated with the introduction at the London Motor Show of the Herald 13/60.The 13/60 was offered in saloon, convertible and estate-bodied versions. The sun-roof remained available for the saloon as an optional extra rather than a standard feature. The front end was restyled using a bonnet similar to the Triumph Vitesse's and the interior substantially revised though still featuring the wooden dashboard. Interior space was improved by recessing a rear armrest in each side panel. The engine was enlarged to 1296 cc, essentially the unit employed since 1965 in the Triumph 1300, fitted with a Stromberg CD150 carburettor, offering 61 bhp (45 kW) and much improved performance. In this form (though the 1200 saloon was sold alongside it until the end of 1970) the Herald Saloon lasted until December 1970 and the Convertible and Estate until May 1971, by which time, severely outdated in style if not performance, it had already outlived the introduction of the Triumph 1300 Saloon, the car designed to replace it and was still selling reasonably well but, because of its labour-intensive method of construction, selling at a loss.
Triumph Heralds were exported and assembled in a number of countries, and the separate chassis used as a jig to assemble kits exported from Coventry. These cars were referred to as CKD – Complete Knock Down cars.
In the 1960s Standard Motor Products of Madras, India manufactured Triumph Heralds with the basic 948 cc engine under the name Standard Herald, eventually with additional four-door saloon and five-door estate models exclusively for the Indian market. In 1971 they introduced a restyled four-door saloon based on the Herald called the Standard Gazel, using the same 948 cc engine but with the axle changed to that of the Toledo, as the Herald's "swing-arm" could not cope with India's poor roads. The Gazel was discontinued in 1977.
The Herald was produced in Australia by Australian Motor Industries from 1959 to 1966 with output totalling 14,975 units. Production included a 12/50 model, which unlike its English namesake was offered in both saloon and coupe body styles. It featured the bonnet and four angled headlights of the Triumph Vitesse and was marketed as the Triumph 12/50, without Herald badges.
Triumph Heralds were also assembled in South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, Malta, Sri Lanka, and at two locations in Peru.
In popular media
A Triumph Herald was used at the 2012 London Olympic Games during the beginning of the Closing Ceremony when cars were paraded around the stadium.
A yellow 1961 Triumph Herald was driven in the Heartbeat series by leading characters Nick and Kate Rowan. The car was last seen offered up for sale recently but with serious work needing to be done to it.
A Herald was used by James May on the TV car show Top Gear as a template for an amphibious car. It was used in the third episode of series 8, in which it and May were victorious in the featured challenge of crossing a 2-mile (3.2 km) lake. It was again seen in the second episode of series 10, in which May used exactly the same car from the previous amphibious car challenge and attempted to cross the English Channel. The car is now a part of the scenery within the Top Gear studio.
The character of Edie Pegden (played by Thora Hird) in the BBC 1 long-running comedy Last of the Summer Wine drove a red Herald convertible.
A red Herald 1200 Convertible was driven by David Niven in the 1975 film: Paper Tiger.
In the 1967 movie Two for the Road, Albert Finney drove a red Triumph Herald convertible.
A Triumph Herald Convertible in Two for the Road movie from 1967
A Triumph Herald 1200 in the Heartbeat, TV series