Some research in the Triumph experimental register shows OVC 311M to be one of the many Bullet/Innsbruck prototypes built by Triumph to prove the slant 4 2lt OHC engine ready for the forthcoming TR7. Chassis number X845, and engine number X1334E, it's listed as the Swiss test car, emissions transport (Swiss market), most of the other cars in the program being listed as Federal spec.
Further research with the Coventry Museum of Road Transport who hold the Coventry area registration details (donated by West Midlands Police) show that this particular car was registered on the 24.10.73. So in the knowledge that all Triumph prototypes were put straight to work to lead short but generally hard lives this picture wouldn't have been taken to long after it was registered. This is born out by the door stickers which read '50,000 mile Emission Test'.
Pinpointing exactly where the picture was taken is easy if you happen to live in Nuneaton, as I do. It's in the town centre on Queens Rd (or the Market Place, I'm never sure where one ends, and the other starts). What is really unusual for Nuneaton (because everything else has been knocked down!) is that all those shops in the background are still there although they have changed hands a few times over. Kettering & Leicester is now a branch of Waterstones book shop. The whole area is now pedestrianised, but it is still possible to get a car into a similar postion under certain conditions if you wanted to recreate the scene.
Going back to the car itself had you noticed it has no bumpers, wheel trims, and it's sitting a little high at the back? Or that there are louvers on the top of the bonnet? I happen to know one of the drivers who was tasked with putting some of those test miles and he explained more. Paul (Northall) recalled the 2000's (Innsbruck) had to have weight removed to make them similar to the forthcoming TR7 (Bullet) for the tests to have any relevance. This included the removal of much interior trim, and the substitution of door glass for perspex, etc.
Interesting times for a young Triumph enthusiast like me in the 70's in Nuneaton as several Triumph test drivers lived locally and were in the habit of cruising through the town in their top secret charges. I remember one of the cars above passing me by whilst I was on my way to the chip shop on school dinner break, the noise it made was distinctly none 6 cylinder! Not long after this I saw my first TR7 (remember this was at least a year before it was launched) as it sat waiting patiently at a school crossing as some goggle eyed kids speculated on what this thinly disguised space ship might be (the TR7 looked pretty radical to us in 1974!).
What was the point of this Blog? Oh yes, as of yesterday we have passed on the 2.5% VAT reduction to all our European customers. What a fantastically generous tax giveaway Mr Darling has given you! Now all you have to do is spend, spend, spend to get us out of this recession. We are waiting for the rush.