Triumph 2000 & 2500 sedans 

A Short History of the Development of Triumph Sedans

It has been commented on many, many times, that when the Triumph 2000 and Rover P6 exploded onto the scene, in 1963, they both revolutionized the luxury car market. Certainly, in the UK, things would never look the same again, as a 2-litre executive car could offer everything that the British middle manager could ever possibly need. At a stroke, the more cumbersome 3-litre opposition looked rather past their collective sell by dates - the more efficient Triumph and Rover products showed that a bigger engine did not necessarily lead to executive bliss. In the UK, a new market sector was effectively created, and executives never looked back - as they now had a choice of two new and dynamic products.

It may have been a co-incidence that Triumph and Rover would launch conceptually similar products at the same time, but that is not to say that each company was not expecting their rival's product. Standard-Triumph had experienced a gradual drop-off in sales and profitability during the 1950s, and thanks to their stolid range of cars, a recovery was looking increasingly unlikely. Their initial response was to seek out a partner - or more correctly someone to buy the company in order to help finance a product-led recovery. Among others, Rover was targeted, and talks duly commenced between the two companies. Although little specific future product information was shared, both companies did discuss their future plans in vague terms, and a big part of that was their upcoming 2-litre saloons. However, talks broke down when an agreement could not be reached, and both parties continued to work on their upcoming products - both knowing that they would meet each other on the market, as competitors.

Standard-Triumph had started working on their new car back in 1957, and concentrated on it as a replacement for the uninspiring Vanguard Mark III - a car that was underperforming badly on the marketplace. A new six-cylinder engine was conceived (Harry Webster believed that "big fours" were not smooth enough), and an advanced body style was soon sketched out. Funding for the new Triumph was gained when Standard-Triumph sold their profitable tractor making subsidiary for £12 million. No question about it - Triumph needed to look startling and herald (no pun intended) a new and confident direction for the company. The team behind the new Triumph - Harry Webster and Giovanni Michelotti - overseen by Alick Dick would engineer a complete transformation of Standard-Triumph's fortunes, bringing the latter marque name to the fore.

Throughout 1962 and 1963 Barb (as it was codenamed) was tested with a view to being unveiled at that year's London Motor Show, and admirably, this tight deadline was met, despite some teething problems with the semi-trailing arm rear suspension layout. It cannot be overstated just how an astonishing achievement it was to get the car into production in such a short time - in all, just over two years (even more so when one considers the fact that there really were not many carryover parts from existing production models).

Because of the short amount of time at hand, the launch of the new car (the "Triumph 2000" name was attached to Barb in the summer of 1963) would be followed by a pause before the car became fully available to the public. Knowing that Rover were also launching a radical 2-litre car at the same time, Triumph decided that they needed to get their cars into the hands of "hand-picked" customers, and operators as well as journalists. This would allow their new car to gain significant exposure, to get further and vitally important test data, and compensate for an early release date, allowing for the production build-up process.

The Triumph 2000/2500 series was officially unveiled in October 1963 with the 2000 MkI which offered comfortable accommodation with a good level of trim complete with wood dash and door cappings and, together with its useful boot capacity, offered an excellent choice for a family size saloon. To complement the saloon, the estate version was launched in 1965. Power came from the Triumph straight six engine using a pair of Zenith Stromberg carburetors. It would seem that the presence of this and the Rover 2000 proved intensely stimulating for the executive market sector as a whole, and sales of the new Triumph took off in a big way when sales commenced in earnest in January 1964. The more powerful 2.5 PI version was introduced in 1968 employing Lucas fuel injection which increased the power from 91bhp to 132bhp. Torque was also greatly increased by around 40% to 153lb.ft but perhaps of equal importance with its peak arriving at a much lower engine revs (2000rpm).

A fresh face was given to the car with the introduction of the MkII in October 1969 in which the distinctive twin headlight pods of the MkI were superseded by the 'full width' styling of the MkII. At the rear too, the vertically aligned lights of the MkI saloons were replaced with horizontally aligned units on the MkII. However, later model estates retained the rear end styling of the MkI. Interiors were also updated at the same time.

Other variants in the range were the 2000TC (1975 on, featuring different trim to that of the 2000 MkII), 2500TC (1974 on) and 2500S (larger diameter, alloy wheels, 1975 on), all of these latter cars featured twin SU carburetors. 2.5PI production continued until 1975, and the 2000 MkII and other variants until 1977.

Overdrive was offered as an option across the range, early cars A Type, later J Type, and is a useful refinement on manual cars. Automatic transmission was another option. As with many cars covering this period, dynamos were replaced by alternators firstly for the 2.5PI MkI and then on all MkII and later cars.

Triumph may have lost out against Rover in the battle to design and produce British Leyland's corporate executive car, but that is not to say a great deal of Triumph thinking did not go into the Rover SD1: the inline-6 cylinder OHC engines were pure Triumph, and the 77mm gearbox was also designed by Triumph engineers at Canley. The SD1's suspension system as designed by Spen King was closer to the Triumph 2000 in its philosophy than it was the Rover P6, and in many ways, the SD1 was the world-beating product that it was because of its amalgamation of the engineering excellence of Rover and Triumph.

The Triumph 2000 was a case of being the perfect product at the right time, and its 13-year life demonstrated perfectly, the way that the British could build a car of enduring quality and timeless style in a package that customers actually wanted. The decline of the Triumph marque during the late 1970s was in no way attributable to the 2000/2500, but simply because there was no space for it in Leyland Cars' range, given the company's declining market share. The stylish 2000/2500 was first of a line of distinguished Triumph executive cars. Criminally, and SD1 notwithstanding, it was also the last of that very same line...

MkI 2000 PI MK1 2000 TC
2000 Mk I PI Saloon 2000 Mk I PI Saloon
MkI 2000 Estate MkI 2000 rear lights
Mk I Estate Mk I rear lights

Triumph 2000 Mk I - 1963-1969

Triumph entered the growing "executive" market in 1963 with its new model, the Triumph 2000. The Triumph 2000 used an all new unitary body which was powered by a six cylinder 1998cc engine shared with the established Standard Vanguard range. Independent suspension and front disc brakes ensured that the 2000 had excellent road manners which gave the car a "sports saloon" feel expected of Triumph.

The 2000 featured a well appointed interior complete with wood veneer dashboard and door cappings which made the car a comfortable car in which to travel. The main rival to the Triumph 2000 was the also new Rover P6 2000, these two cars would compete for the same customers throughout their long production runs, even after both companies had been swallowed up by parent company BL!

The original, introduced at the London Motor Show in 1963 with two-tone paintwork. The refined, although even at the time fairly dated, 2 litre 6 cylinder engine was one of the main selling points, together with independent suspension on all wheels. Giovanni Michelotti, was responsible for the distinctive styling. The Mk 1 was marketed in North America as the TR2000.

Triumph 2000 Estate Mk I - 1965-1969

Triumph entered a new model into the growing "executive" sector in 1963 the Triumph 2000. The 2000 used an all new unitary bodyshell combined with a twin-carb Standard Vanguard engine of 1998cc which gave the car excellent performance. All-round independent suspension and front disc brakes ensured excellent road manners, automatic and overdrive transmission were options.

Inside the 2000 featured high quality fittings including wood trim and reclining seats which offered high levels of comfort. The 2000 Estate featured a useful load area which was also well trimmed, all Estate bodies were built for Standard-Triumph by Coventry based Car bodies.
The load carrier, to please family motorists. Introduced in 1965, the bodies were prepared by Carbodies of Coventry, being supplied with half finished shells from the saloon line at Pressed Steel in Swindon. Except for harder suspension, mechanically similar to the saloon.

Triumph 2.5 PI Mk I - 1968-1969 and 2.5 PI Estate Mk I - 1969

In 1968 Triumph added a new high performance model to the already successful Triumph 2000 Saloon and Estate range, the fuel injected 2.5 PI (Petrol Injection) Saloon. The new Saloon made use of the same body shell as used for the standard 2000 Saloon, only sportier wheel trims, badges and minor trim details distinguished the new top of the range model.

The 2.5 PI used a 132bhp version of the six cylinder engine used in the Triumph TR5 sports. This powerful engine could be mated to optional manual overdrive or automatic transmission depending on the buyers preference. Unfortunately the early Lucas fuel injection caused problems for some owners and gained the PI an unfair reputation for unreliability (which has been eliminated by the Triumph specialist network and is no longer a major concern). The fun to drive hot rod, introduced in 1968, got a 47% increase in power by receiving the 2.5 litre petrol injected engine of the TR5 in slightly detuned form. This placed it among the faster saloon cars of its type.

Triumph Stag - 1970-1977 the "Sporting Offshoot"

The transition from the MkI saw Michelotti design the new Triumph Grand Tourer around the MkI under plan and suspension, with many modifications, to produce the Stag. Triumph used the body style of the Stag when time came to remodel the MkII Saloons. Click to see the separate Stag page for further details of this model.

Triumph 2000 Mk II - 1969-1977 and 2000 Estate Mk II - 1969-1975

The first issue was replaced by the mark II in 1969. The redesign of the front and rear ends, as well as the very worthwhile revision of the interior, was done by Michelotti, the original stylist. The technical changes were minor, the most important one begin the increased rear track width. It was considered a well thought out evolutionary step by most.

MkII PI 2000 MkII Estate 2500 S MkII 2500 TC
2000 Mk II Saloon 2500 Mk II Estate 2500 Mk II Saloon
MkII 2500 PI MkII 2500 S MkII 2500 rear lights
2500 Mk II PI 2500 Mk II S  Mk II rear lights

Triumph 2.5 PI Mk II - 1969-1975

In 1969 Triumph updated its 2000 / 2.5 PI range and introduced the face lifted Mk II derivatives. The 2.5 PI Mk II now featured the revised Michelotti front and rear panel changes which gave the car a graceful, updated look for the 1970s. New lamps were a key styling feature and the front of the car was almost identical to that of the new Stag sports model.

The interior of the 2.5 PI received the new seats and trim used throughout the range, of course the PI featured a more comprehensive instrument cluster than lesser models. A smart new Teak veneer adorned the dashboard and door cappings throughout the interior which added to the quality feel.

Click to read a "Buyers Guide" report written by Cliff Chambers featuring TCCV member Graeme Oxley's car.

Triumph 2500TC Mk II Saloon/Estate - 1974-1977

 After persevering for many years BL finally abandoned fuel injection for its 2000/2500 range in 1974 and replaced the troublesome 2.5 PI with the new 2500TC. The 2.5 PI had been the range topping model so in some ways the new 2500TC appeared to be a step down from the earlier car, but at least it would be reliable.

The 2500TC used twin carbs in lieu of the injection, hence the typically BL model designation TC (Twin Carb) . The twin carb 2498cc motor produced a healthy 99bhp and gave the car a 105mph top speed. Options included overdrive or automatic gearboxes and the 2500TC could be ordered as either a saloon or estate.

MkIIS Saloon/Estate - 1975-1977

 The last variant of the Triumph 2000 / 2500 series made its debut in 1975, the range topping 2500S. The 2500S effectively replaced the 2500TC and the earlier 2.5 PI, using twin carbs to produce its 106bhp instead of the unreliable fuel injection used on the old PI.

Standard equipment for the 2500S included a full compliment of instruments, plush upholstery and "Stag" type, five spoke alloy wheels. The 2500S also featured stiffened suspension and power assisted steering. Buyers could order either saloon or estate bodies and choose between manual overdrive or automatic transmission. The introduction of the new Rover SD1 2600 saloon killed off the established in-house rival in 1977.