Designed by Italian Giovanni Michelotti, the Triumph Herald first emerged onto the scene in 1959, produced by Standard-Triumph in Coventry. With two doors and a modest engine, this sleek little car was designed as a space-efficient run-around, and marketed as “a new experience in motoring”.
The construction of the Herald was modular: the panels could be bolted onto and unbolted from the car, meaning the same chassis could carry different body styles. The saloon had 93% all-round visibility, and the small turning circle made the car popular with driving schools and motor journalists.
From 1963 to 1967, a new model was offered: the Triumph Herald 12/50. It had more power than the early model, with 51 bhp instead of the 39 bhp of the original. This revised Herald also came with a sliding Webasto sun roof and disc brakes as standard.
In October 1967 the range was updated again for the London Motor Show with the 13/60 model which had a restyled bonnet similar to the Triumph Vitesse. It also had a larger engine size of 1296cc with a Stromberg CD-150 carburettor, providing much improved performance with 61 bhp.
The Herald was a successful car in its day selling well over half a million units including saloon, convertible, estate and coupe versions, as well as a van model. But by early 1970 the Herald was severely outdated in style, and although it was still selling well, the labour-intensive method of construction meant the cars were being sold at a loss. The Herald saloon lasted until December 1970 and the convertible and estate until May 1971, when production ended.
New performance-based Triumphs such as the TR5 and the Vitesse 2 litre took up the baton for the marque, but these undoubtedly benefited from the ten years of development that went into the Herald.
There aren’t many of them on the road any more; 1.3k 13 / 60 models were licensed on the UK’s roads in 2018, and only 212 of the earlier 12/50 model.
Today the TR7 might be considered as iconic as the Herald, albeit both cars have come in for their fair share of criticism. However, the Herald is still beloved by owners’ clubs and even has its own historic archive, documenting the car’s history and stories from enthusiasts, Standard-Triumph employees and their families. At 60 years old, the Herald’s legacy is being looked after.
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