Cover photo: Triumph Dolomite – Backwards Progress
It’s rare for a model to switch from front-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive midway through its life cycle. Volvo recently did it with the electric XC40, Rover with the 75 and Triumph with its 1300/1500 series, which includes our cover model Dolomite.
First, a quick memory refresher: In 1965, Triumph brought a modern front-wheel-drive compact sedan onto the market, the 1300. It was originally intended as a successor to the Herald, but ultimately it was a step higher up the hierarchy ladder.
The Triumph Dolomite
The design is very similar to the larger 2000/2500 and was penned by the in-house stylist Michelotti. The 1300 sells well, but Triumph is not satisfied. Production costs are high and maintenance proves complicated. In addition, the popular but very old Herald urgently needs to be replaced. So the Toledo was introduced in 1970. Essentially a simplified 1300 with a new front axle, solid rear axle and rear wheel drive. The latter procedure appears more complicated than it is. The engine was already positioned longitudinally at the front, but it still feels like a step backwards. However, the British logic is incomprehensible, because the Triumph 1500 appears almost at the same time.
This is the direct replacement for the 1300 and remains front wheel drive. Both powertrains are built on the same production line. Compared to the Toledo, the 1500 has a longer tail and double round headlights. Exactly: the body of the Dolomite. It followed at the end of 1971 with a 1,854 cc four-cylinder (once developed for Saab) and – yes – rear-wheel drive. Despite some delays in the start of production, the Dolomite has been extremely well received. But the best was yet to come, because in mid-1973 the Sprint was introduced, the first mass-produced car with a 16-valve engine under the hood.
It turns out that it is a very fast car that can compete without shame with the best sports sedans from Alfa and BMW. Success seems assured. The model range is now being revised. The front wheel drives are removed and all engine variants receive the same bodywork, the same rear wheel drive and ultimately all the Dolomite label. But no matter how well it drives, the Dolomite is getting old. Michelotti suggests a redesign (in the spirit of the Fiat 132), but doesn’t get the green light: the coffers are empty.
The entire British Leyland group is now being overhauled and Triumph is being declared unnecessary. In 1980 the Dolomite production site was closed and the beautiful sports sedan was no longer available. Four years later, Triumph as a car brand completely disappears from the history books.
Offer and prices
The series to which the Dolomite belongs has survived in all its manifestations for 15 years. However, rust resistance is not its strongest feature. However, there are still some Dolomites in our country, including two top specimens that cost around 10,000 euros. Plus a restoration item for just under 1,700 euros.
|Brand + model
|Fl. 12,990 (€5,895)
|Acc. 0-100 km/h
|Approx. 10 l/100 km
|In-line four-cylinder, 1,854 cm³
|92 hp (68 kW)/5,200 rpm
|159 Nm/3,500 rpm
|4-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive
A nice Sprint with a Ford 16-valve engine costs 10,000 euros, but a good original Sprint can be had for less than 20,000 euros. The supply of spare parts is good (especially in Great Britain). Many things are interchangeable with other Triumphs.
Source: Auto visie
I’m Jamie Bowen, a dedicated and passionate news writer for 24 News Reporters. My specialty is covering the automotive industry, but I also enjoy writing about a wide range of other topics such as business and politics. I believe in providing my readers with accurate information while entertaining them with engaging content.