History of the Triumph Herald

Written by rob wagner
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History of the Triumph Herald
(Triumph Motor Co.)

The Triumph Herald was a standard passenger car manufactured by the financially struggling Standard-Triumph Motor Co. It was conceived to replace the sedate Standard 8 and 10 models for 1959. It was initially produced as a saloon and coupe, but vans, estate wagons and convertibles were offered a short while after the saloon's debut.


In the mid-1950s, Standard-Triumph was enjoying tremendous success with its TR3 two-seater sports car, but it desperately needed to upgrade its standard saloons and coupes that were losing its market share to the more popular Morris Minor, Austin A35, the Ford Popular and later the Mini Cooper. The company sought Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti to style a new family car.

History of the Triumph Herald
Many of the mechanical compontents in the 1959 Herald came from the Triumph Standard.

On the Cheap

Michelotti designed the Herald so the body was bolted to the chassis instead of developing the more monocoque construction, which used the body to help support the structural load of the vehicle. By using the old method, different body styles could be bolted to same chassis, thus saving money. It allowed Standard-Triumph to produce a variety of models within a one-year span.

History of the Triumph Herald
Interior of the 1960 Triumph Herald was spartan but comfortable.


The rear-wheel drive Herald was powered by a 948cc 4-cylinder engine from the Standard 10. It used the Standard's four-speed manual transmission. It sat on a 93-inch wheelbase and measured 153 inches long.

History of the Triumph Herald
The 948cc 4-cylinder Herald engine.

The Look

The Herald coupe was a jaunty little car with a modern look. There was plenty of glass, which brightened the interior. The front fenders rose above a flat and sloping bonnet, or hood, and the lines swept downward toward the rear. Instrumentation was minimal with only a fuel gauge and speedometer offered in the saloon, with the temperature gauge an option.

History of the Triumph Herald
The Herald 1200 had a little more get-up-and-go than the 948 models.


The Herald was launched for 1959, but sales were slow thanks to a £700 price tag. In contrast, the sexier two-seater Spitfire sports car sold for £550 when it debuted three years later. It didn't help that the 38-horsepower engine only gave a top speed of 70mph and took 31.1 seconds to go from 0 to 60mph. Still, by 1964, more than 76,000 Herald saloons were sold.

History of the Triumph Herald
Triumph brochure illustration for the 12/50 model.

End of Standard-Triumph

Just as sales were beginning to pick up, Leyland Motors Ltd. acquired Standard-Triumph in 1960 and a short time later returned its name to the original Triumph Motor Co. By then the 948 convertible and Herald 1200, with an 1147cc engine, were on the market. The Herald 1200 was equipped with the Spitfire engine and sold a total of 289,575 saloons, coupes, convertibles, estate models and vans from 1961-70.

History of the Triumph Herald
The sporty 13/60 convertible.

Sportier Models

By 1963, a sportier Herald was introduced. The 12/50 was introduced in 1963 with a tuned 1147cc, four-cylinder engine generating 51 horsepower. It featured a fabric sunroof and front disc brakes. Four years later, the 13/60 model appeared with flat front fenders integrated into a flat bonnet. Unfortunately, no 13/60 coupe was offered, with the model instead coming in as the estate wagon, saloon and convertible. Production ended in 1971 to make way for the conservatively styled Toledo.

History of the Triumph Herald
Advertisement for the Triumph Herald estate wagon.

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