27 May 2015

Triumph Renown a rare, hand-built beauty

Named in honour of a First World War battle cruiser, rare model had hand-built bodies

The Triumph Motor Company was founded in Coventry, England, by Siegfried Bettmann, a German immigrant, in 1897.

He began like so many others manufacturing bicycles and soon moved into the production of motorcycles, adding automobiles in 1923.

Following the Second World War, the Standard-Triumph group unveiled a large model called the Triumph 1800 Town and Country Saloon (fitted with an 1,800-cc engine). It later became the 2000 and was renamed again in October of 1949 when the Renown was launched.

The Standard Motor Company named one of its models the Vanguard after HMS Vanguard. Permission to use the name involved extensive negotiations with the Royal Navy. Likewise, negotiated permission was sought and granted to use the name Renown after the First World War battle cruiser HMS Renown.

The Renown bodies were hand-built built by Mulliners of Birmingham — not to be confused with the famous H.J Mulliner of West London — using traditional coachbuilding techniques of attaching sheet metal over a wooden frame made from Ash.

Sheet metal was in short supply after the war and was largely reserved for manufacturing automobile wings (fenders).

However, aluminum was still readily available because of the large stocks left over from RAF aircraft manufacturing, which had taken place in a number of car factories including Standard.

The Renown body was fitted to an entirely new pressed-steel chassis and utilized new front suspension components. The 2,088-cc, four-cylinder wet-liner Standard Vanguard engine powered a three-speed transmission with a column shifter.

The combination of the column shift and a front bench seat made the Renown a spacious family saloon that could cruise comfortably at 75 mph (120 km/h).

As time progressed, aluminum became more expensive than sheet steel and it was probably this added cost which impacted the bottom line resulting in the demise of the Renown in 1954.

The side profile of the defined “Razor Edge” coachwork has a striking resemblance to some of the Hooper-bodied Rolls-Royce and Bentley saloons from the 1930s.

The smaller Triumph Mayflower, also named after a famous ship, has a very similar style and look.

The total production figures of Renowns from 1949-1954 amounted to approximately 9,301 units (including the 191 limousines).

It was not an export model and only built in right-hand-drive for the home market, and so it is very rare to see one in North America considering there are less than 200 known to have survived today in the entire world.

4 Reader Comments

  • 1
    MARTIN MADDEN AUSTRALIA December 31, 2015 at 23:39
  • 2
    William Unger Des Moines, Iowa January 3, 2016 at 18:47
    I am aware of five Renown limousines in the United States. Fourteen were imported into the United States directly by Standard Triumph; 11 in 1952, 3 in 1954. I own one of the 1954 cars.
  • 3
    rob pearcey Florida January 22, 2016 at 12:27
    I have a LHD two door. Itb TDC Renown 02 LD It must be a prototype Registered in Florida in 1952
  • 4
    Treebeardzz Florida May 23, 2017 at 07:02
    I now have Rob's Renown and am currently trying to research the provenance to restore it correctly from it's butchered state(not butchered by Rob), and everything I have found on it points to the body being aluminum with steel bonnet and fenders. Renown 02 is ALL steel except for aluminum extrusion framing in the coach. Any body care to offer a theory as I find it improbable that someone would have custom re-skinned the entire body in steel?

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