History of the 1959-1971 Triumph Herald
Designer Giovanni Michelotti’s Triumph Herald replaced the Triumph Standard 8/10 in 1959 with a breath of fresh air that would blow through the British auto industry for 12 years. It’s a classic case of how a great designer can take lemons and make margaritas.
Underneath, the Herald was still pretty conventional, with a separate chassis, drum brakes, a standard 948-cc OHV four-cylinder engine, and a four-speed transmission, but it was cloaked in attractive angular bodywork, as a two-door sedan, fixed head coupe, convertible, and estate. It also had fully independent suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, a tilt nose that made engine access remarkably simple, and the 25-foot turning circle of a London taxi.
The first versions had 35 hp, but a twin-carburetor setup bumped that to 45 hp. The 1,147-cc engine “1200” model offered a station wagon and 52 hp that raised the top speed to 80 mph. Front disc brakes were optional from 1961 and the deluxe 12/50 of 1963 included a standard sunroof, heater, and front disc brakes.
The coupe was never common and was discontinued in 1964, but the convertible was made from 1960 to 1971, becoming the 13/60 in 1967, with a 61-hp, 1,296-cc engine and a top speed of near 90 mph. The 13/60 hood was slanted, similar to the six-cylinder Vitesse, but with two headlights. The instrument panel was improved, with recessed switches.
The Herald and its variants were enormously popular in the 1960s, with 317,821 sedans, 70,000 convertibles, 53,267 estates, and 20,472 coupes sold by 1967. The 13/60 replaced the Herald in 1967 and estate and saloon sales totaled 82,650, before the model was discontinued in1971.
The Triumph Herald’s basic design does present some issues, however; the early swing axle suspension can jack up the rear end alarmingly in hard cornering, and possibly flip the car. This was corrected in 1968, with a transverse leaf-to-pivot link, and retrofit kits are desirable. Rapid departures on extreme lock can peel the outside front tire off the rim. The one-piece front clip can also be bumped and misaligned, which will prevent it from latching. Bodies flex and are not particularly watertight.
As the high production numbers underscore, mechanical parts do not present a problem for the Herald, though rust is an ever-present enemy and some older body parts are becoming hard to find. Finish was generally above the Austin/Morris standard with wood veneer dashboards and adequate instruments.