Friday, January 16, 2009

4 Cylinder Lucas Injection

Well at least the unique 4 cylinder distributor/metering unit pedestal, the 4 cylinder racing metering unit, and the racing injectors anyway.

Tried but not raced on the Le Mans Spitfires, this is where this set originates from. Using a cam operated metering unit as against the more recognisable vacuum operated type, meant instant translation of the drivers throttle input to the race cars fuel demands. Didn't do anything for fuel consumption though, so not useful in road going applications! Very similar to the units used on the Abingdon Mini Cooper rally cars of the late 1960s, and very sought after today! Have spoken to those directly involved with Le Mans Spitfire development at the Triumph and no-one as yet can remember which car was used for the testing. By default I think it must have been one of Bradley's cars, ADU 1B, 2B, 5B, or ERW 412C, but have yet to confirm?

Herald Technical College Chassis

MKI Herald exhibition/show/college rolling chassis.

Recently donated by an ex-Triumph employee who in turn had recently acquired it from the MG Rover headquarters, and training school at Studley Castle in Warwickshire. It's interesting to note that MG Rover had thought it worthwhile to have a training aid on the books that was more at home in 1959! Triumph produced many of these training aids (at least a hundred) for technical colleges, schools, and other institutions, that provided valuable insight into the inner workings of the automobile. This was only possible with a separate chassis car, and this is the reason many of these survived into the 90's. A veritable flood of these came onto the market from the early 90's, right through until recently. Most ended up being used as donors in restoration projects, indeed a couple of partially disassembled ones that went through our hands in the Kipping's days ended up under concourse cars. Our latest find however will not suffer this fate for two things are in it's favour, firstly it's complete, and in good condition, and secondly it's a MKI, and very much rarer than the 'common' MKII college chassis version. Needing only minor cosmetic restoration, it shouldn't take much to get it up and running and driveable again.


This will really test your Triumph trivia!

This is an example of a complete prototype transaxle assembly from the stillborn 1958 Zebu saloon project. The Zebu was a halfway house between the Standard Vanguard and the Triumph 2000 (Barb). Triumph lost their way at this time, and things got rather complicated with many body design changes, and multiple chassis and running gear revisions. At one time in the project a Herald body was hot crossed bun sectioned and stretched to fit the Zebu chassis! Things got so desperate at the end Triumph dropped the whole project and then went off and nearly settled on a Vanguard engined AMC Wrangler (an ugly American saloon of the period. Fortunately sense prevailed and we were given the wonderful Triumph 2000 family.

We are currently restoring the transaxle to display standard incorporating a wheeled display frame so that we can move it around in the museum.

70X Engine Weber Inlet Manifold

This is one of the ultra rare original factory Spitfire Le-Mans/Rally 70X Weber inlet manifolds. It was recently donated by Peter Clarke ex of the Triumph Competition department and instrumental in the building and maintenance of the original 'works' cars.

Peter went on to help build and prepare with Peter Cox the ultra competitive ex-works, ex Stirling Moss/Val Pierre SMART Spitfire ADU 467B, maybe this is where this manifold originates from?

February 08 up-date

What were the chances of finding the other hand to our manifold floating around Coventry 40 odd years after the event? Well I knew it was a long shot to complete the pair of the ultra rare 70X alloy head (the steel head, and SAH head manifolds are different) inlets. Step forward another ex comp shop (experimental) engineer who recently dug one out for us along with a load of steel head inlets, and forged piston sets! We sorted through the spare stuff and it duly went on to e-Bay, making a tidy sum in the process for their owner. Apparently most of it has found it's way to Italy.

Picture from the e-Bay listing of those steel head inlets.

Le Mans Fuel Tanks

At least eleven of the works Spitfires built, ADU 1B through ADU 8B, ADU 467B (may not have had a long range tank, as a 'normal' hardtop car) , AVC 654B, ERW 412C and of course the Macau, all had these endurance long range aluminium petrol tanks fitted.

We have four of the original five we owned (we recently sold a tank to our friend Steve Phillips who is making a replica Macau) here on display in our museum. These should not be confused with the replica tanks we made and sold a few years back, the most famous of which now sits in Mark Fields (Jigsaw Racing) works replica Spitfire.

The ones we have on display are genuine 40 year old original, and show all signs of it, being dented, and corroded, as you might expect for 40 year old aluminium.

So consider this, bearing in mind that ADU 3B, ADU 4B, ADU 5B, ADU 6B, ADU 7B, ADU 8B, and AVC 654B should all have there original tanks still fitted (the Macau lost its original tank in America) that makes seven tanks still fitted to works cars, plus the five we have owned, and one other one we know of locally, and the Macau's (still in the USA?) that makes 14!

OK, so a couple of tanks may have been made as spares, but if you knew that we acquired these tanks fairly locally, and that there exists locally the considerable remains of a factory backed private Spitfire racing effort, still in situ after almost 39 years after the three cars were last campaigned, then it might not surprise you to see an amazing survival rate of 'works' parts.

Watch this space for further developments.

In the meantime please feel free to come along and examine these and other parts of Triumph's Spitfire racing effort.

Macau Head

We have recently been extremely lucky in acquiring the original aluminium works 8 port 70X head that was taken off the Macau by Kas Kastner in 1966. Along with some other original engine components acquired, this should go most of the way to allowing us to return the Macau to it's 1965 specification.

We are indebted to Kas Kastner for his help in tracking down the parts, it turns out they never went very far, having sat unused in California for nearly 40 years!

The cylinder head in particular is in very good condition, and is virtually ready to use, a tribute to very careful storage for all those years.

It now seems unlikely that any of the original works circuit cars will be at Le Mans latter this year to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Spitfires racing there, a good time to get the Macau up and running in original 4 cylinder form?

Here are some quotes from Kas taken from the various correspondence we have exchanged, they add to the excitement!

Kas : "Are you interested in the Spitfire aluminium 8 port cylinder head with inlet manifolds that I believe is the original fitment for the car (Macau) when I received it from the factory?"

Kas : "That's really great, I am very pleased indeed that you are getting the original parts back home, wonderful !"

Experimental Rotary Throttle

Another important part of Triumph's superb experimental and development history has recently been donated to our museum. This time we are indebted to Mr Peter Clarke formerly of the Triumph competitions and experimental departments.

This is an experimental rotary throttle body, we believe Ray Henderson (head of experimental) may have had a hand in its conception and design, and indeed based on Ray's work Rover later patented the idea.

You can see from one of the pictures that we have set the throttles half open/closed so you get an idea of its operation, simple and uncomplicated, and way ahead in conception.

Stag V8 Lucas Petrol Injection Inlet Manifolds

How rare are these, I have never even seen a picture of these before let alone having seen them in flesh.

Triumph very early on in the Stag development program tried Lucas injection and these are orginal inlet manifolds from that period. Donated by Tony Luxton (ex Triumph experimental) we are indebted to him for saving such rare parts and giving them into the safe keeping of our museum. Now all we need is an eight cylinder metering unit (I know where there is few of those), and a Stag metering unit drive and mounting, any ideas?

5 Speed Gearbox

This is one of the mythical Triumph 5 speed gearboxes, predating the later 77mm 5 speed that appeared in the TR7, Rover SD1, etc.

Looking like a normal Triumph saloon, TR 4-6 alloy gearbox with a bit tacked on the back, this is essentially what it is! Ours is numbered EX5SPD/1 (experimental 5 speed number 1), I know of another in Germany, and there was supposed to be another in a big saloon somewhere up North? Ray Henderson once told me on one of his visits here that 'it wern't nought to do with us' (Triumph)! He later rang me up and appologised, he had spoken to Triumphs chief gearbox guy at the time who had confirmed the project had indeed happened, prompted by the intervention of a certain Mr Kas Kastner. All the ones I have seen or heard of have had saloon input shafts, and have at one time or another been fitted in saloons, not TR's, unless anyone knows differantly? Why didn't they go into production with this instead of the incredibly heavy cast iron case, clunky old 77mm box I will never know?


Cruise control, only fitted to modern luxury motors? We bought a Spitfire4 MkII a couple of years ago that had been fitted in the mid 1970s with this bolt on cruise control kit. The car has been off the road since the very early 1980s so we haven't yet tried it out. Sports cars with cruise control, whatever next?

Dunlop Wheels

Please note. This is simply an old advertising brochure from Dunlop from the 60's that we have scanned in. It does not imply that we stock Dunlop Formula 'D' wheels!

Blue Prints

Recently donated to our museum was something in the region of 200/300 original factory blueprints.

We are indebted to Roy Ford (formally Triumph Experimental) in firstly having the foresight to save these valuable pieces of history from disposal when the Triumph factory was being cleared, and secondly in donating them to our museum.

Detailing the designs of such diverse parts as chassis brackets, trim parts, and wiring looms.

Although in good condition, they will need careful storage, after cataloguing.

Unleaded Petrol Research Courtesy of Esso/Triumph

Nothing New Under The Sun

The following correspondence from our archive between Esso and Triumph shows that the two companies were worried enough about unleaded fuel in 1970 to instigate some comprehensive studies into valve seat recession. Of course Triumphs were to run throughout the 1970's in America on unleaded fuel without problem as they do today.

If nothing else it also proves our advice since unleaded fuel became available in the UK (and elsewhere on this website), use it without modification, you will have no problems. If Esso could thrash a fresh GT6 around a test track at 100mph day after day with negligible recession then you are hardly likely to suffer any. We also have had several of our Triumph's on long term (very, very long term!) test without recession, see the Chicane and 2.5 PI MK1 pages in our museum.

Spitfire Tuning Kits

Amazing what sits around in your drawer?

These original typed and hand written/annotated specification notes for the factory Spitfire4 MkII tuning kits were recently donated by our friend Tony Luxton (ex Triumph experimental engineer). Tony has recently retired from Land Rover where he continued to work in development after moving there when the Triumph closed at Canley. These little gems came to light whilst clearing his drawers out!

Interesting in that it shows part numbers for all the trick bits, but also prices in pounds, shillings and pence, hand written alongside each part.

Triumph only really sold (usually through SAH) Spitfire Interim, and Spitfire Stage II kits to satisfy homologation regulations to justify the racing effort.

These are also if you wish to replicate a Stage II car in that it even list things like choke sizes for the 40 DCOEs, ignition timing, and compression ratios.

Original Triumph Gift

Original Triumph complimentry match box. Made (we are told) to celebrate the 1959 launch of the Herald.

Later on these match boxes re-appeared with the picture of the red and white Herald covered by another Standard Triumph shield emblem. This has given rise to the theory that either there was a serious over production of the box in the first place, or that to few were given away at the original 1959 launch! Now much saught after by Triumph collectors, we have seen these change hands for over £5 each on e-Bay!

Chairman's Badge

Found under the carpet of a GT6. What was it doing there?

Fire Extinguisher

Part number 554449, available new from your Stanpart Accessories Brochure in the 1960s. Always better to be safe than sorry!

Draftman's Board Ruler

We are indebted to Roy Ford (former Triumph Experimental Dept) for donating this draftman's board ruler.

Taken from one of the drawing boards in the Triumph design studios upon the closure of the Canley plant. How many cars were designed using this - what stories could it tell?

Spitfire ADU 4B Le Mans

Commission number (1964) X727, engine number (1964) X935E, registered 01.06.64. Described in prototype department build sheets as 'Le Mans No1'.

ADU 4B as revealed when removed from container at Felixstowe after arrival in the UK from the USA in 2004.
Picture courtesy of James Carruthers

ADU 4B 1965 Le Mans pre race and the late great Harry Webster

Le Man 1965

ADU 4B Sebring 1965
(Peter Clarke works mechanic to right of image)

ADU 4B Sebring 1965 Pit Stop
Picture courtesy David E Feuerhelm
David's father Duane drove 4B at Sebring in 1965

ADU 4B at the Swiss Hill Climb Mittholz - Kandersteg Sept.1965
Thuner at the wheel first in his category
(Picture courtesy Daniel Senn)

ADU 4B at the end of the 1965 season with the drivers from the
Leyland Triumph Swiss Racing Team.
On the right is JJ Thuner Swiss Championship winner 1965.
(Picture courtesy Daniel Senn)

ADU 4B showing hasty repairs following accident whilst in Switzerland in the 1980's

ADU 4B in the USA in 2002
whilst in the custodianship of Vern Brannon
(929 HP Le Man TRS behind)
Picture courtesy of Howard Baugues

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Year Lots of New Product!

You may be forgiven for thinking that we have been a little quite on the new product development/introduction front of late. Nothing could be further from the truth, and since employing a graduate of motorsport engineering and design (and a Triumph enthusiast to boot) things moved up a gear last year. Due to website glitches soon to be sorted we have been a little slow in keeping you informed of progress, hopefully we will be a little bit more forthcoming this year.
Having CAD facilities in house has been a revelation. Not having to rely on outside agencies means that we can now design, modify, and prototype in our timescale, not someone else's. When I say we by the way I put less emphasis on myself, I just come up with some of the ideas, someone else translates them into potential product using the magic box in the corner of the office. The trouble now is reigning in our ambitions. Having someone here who is as mad keen as me with as many if not more ideas could get expensive.
As a result of the above we have started looking at other models in the Triumph range, watch out for new bits for the 2000/2.5 range, and the 6 cylinder TR's this year.
We haven't forgotten our roots either and a major new panel launch is imminent for the Vitesse (yes that one!). This could possibly be the swan song for new panel introduction for the small chassis Triumph's as panelwork sales have taken a nose dive over recent years. Spitfire panelwork sales in particular are worryingly low, and I think we may look back at this time in the near future and regard it as a hiatus in availability. If things continue as they have been for the last couple of years or so I can see us losing some panels for ever.
Anyway lets not end on a low note I for one am encouraged by the new blood, and new ideas around at the moment it's keeping us old so and so's on our toe's. Who'd have thought that this long after Triumph disappeared we would still be using the latest technology to turn dream into reality?

Spitfire Gold Seal Racing

This is possibly the only surviving Gold Seal Racing plastic Spitfire.

We were privileged to acquire this car from Richard Lloyd himself, who delivered the car to us aided by his race mechanic Peter Clarke (ex Triumph competition dept). Richard had tracked the car down with the help of Julius Thurgood classic car dealer (Julius has since informed us that he saw it in an advert in Exchange & Mart in 1984), and latterly the Top Hat race series organiser. Previous to this it had sat in a barn on a farm for many years in an unloved state. Unfortunately by the time we acquired the car it was engineless its original 70X engine having gone into a new car that Peter Clarke had built up for Richard to go racing in. They (Peter & Richard) having decided that it would be too difficult to enter an all plastic Spitfire in any established race series decided to build the new car up around a steel tub with aluminium outer panel-work (we supplied the tub and the alloy panels). As a result the glass-fibre car was now redundant and seemed unlikely to ever race again hence our acquisition.

Period shot of car with Richard Lloyd at the helm
(courtesy of Richard Lloyd, it's his autograph on the front cover!)

Earlier in it's history our car had been owned by Terry Hunter (former works rally driver for Triumph) who had bought the car directly from Triumph after its works competition career ended, he in turn passed it on to Peter Clarke who then comprehensibly rebuilt it for Richard Lloyd into the plastic Spitfire we see today. The only major steel part of the car, the bulkhead is probably all that is left of one of the original prototype Spitfires built by Triumph prior to production.

Later in the cars racing career when it acquired it's blue nose.

For those of you who were unaware of Team Gold Seal here is a brief history.

Gold Seal Car Company Limited (a London based sports car dealers) sponsored a team of 3 drivers and cars, the drivers being Peter Cox, Richard Lloyd, and Chris Marshall. Peter Cox needs little introduction as he was a prime mover in the factory competitions dept in the 1960s during the Spitfire racing/rallying years. Peter went on in 1967 to win the Freddy Dixon trophy in the ex Stirling Moss, Smart Spitfire ADU 467B. Indeed a highly modified ADU 467B was Peter's first Gold Seal sponsored car for the 1968 season.

Servicing at the Mugello Circuit 1969

Richard Lloyd at the time was working for Peter Gormley Management Limited looking after Cliff Richard, The Shadows, and others, very 1960s! Richard went on to be a highly successful racing team manager including the Team Bentley Le Mans effort recently.

Mugello 1969

Chris Marshall sold sports cars for a living, whilst in his free time he raced saloon cars (A40s, Minis, Anglias), until he converted to Spitfires.

The cars themselves were radically modified Spitfire's even by today's standards.

Eventually all three cars sported all plastic (glass-fibre) body-shells, bonnets, etc. Even the boot lids were 'glassed' in with integral glass-fibre hinges to complete the effect! The only 'metal' parts of the car ended up being the bulkhead and floors, yes even the sills were glass-fibre!

As delivered to us, and much as Julius Thurgood found it in 1984
after purchasing it from an advert in Exchange & Mart

All of this glass-fibre work was carried out by Chris Williams of Windmill Plastics here in Coventry, and indeed all of the cars carried Chris Williams sponsorship decals on their rear quarters.

All three cars were built and maintained by Peter Cox, and Peter Clarke who was also a 'works' competition dept mechanic heavily involved in the Spitfire effort.

All it needs is an engine, oh and a major restoration!

In 1969 Team Gold Seal entered two cars in the International Mugello Grand Prix for sports cars, run on the Mugello road circuit near Florence. Entered in the 1000cc class this entailed sleeving down the 1200cc 70X engines to 998cc. The two cars were entry number 54 (blue nose car), and entry number 55 (yellow nosed car). Unfortunately Pete Cox crashed the yellow nosed car very heavily in practice, so much so that all they brought of it away from the event afterwards was the engine (this engine subsequently got fitted to a Formula Junior style racer but was never very successful in this form), and a few other mechanical components. The blue nosed car raced in the event (driven by Chris Marshall & John Brittan) but suffered a puncture that put it out of the serious running.

It was this car that Julius Thurgood tracked down and sold to Richard Lloyd years later, and that we were lucky enough to acquire later still from Richard.

Gold Seal Racing : Peter Cox, Chris Marshall and Richard Lloyd

As it stands our car is in serious need of restoration, but it will be worth the effort, what a super part of Triumph racing history! The one stumbling block to an accurate restoration could have been sourcing a works 70X engine to replace the one removed by Peter in the course of building Richards new race car. However since we got the car we have found two genuine 70X motors, and enough components to build a third, so no problems there then. Now all we have to find is the time to do it.

2001 - Back Home in Coventry

It became common knowledge in Triumph circles in 1999/2000 that for the right money The Macau was available yet again. In 2001 we made our first tentative enquiry, checking the cars provenance and the price! On the 4th July 2001 we rented a Mercedes Sprinter and drove to Switzerland to buy The Macau. On arrival our initial impressions were disappointing, parked in an underground garage blocked in by several other dead cars, under a layer of dust The Macau sat forlornly on 4 flat tyres. After much pushing and shoving we managed to get the car out into the daylight where Dieter tried to get the engine started on petrol that smelt ancient. After several failed attempts pools of foul smelling petrol were forming on the floor under the open ram pipes of the 45 DCOE Webbers, this promptly caught fire! This was quickly put out and further attempts at starting the car were quickly forgotten about. Despite this I was more than satisfied that this was indeed The Macau before me, and I was happy to see the excellent condition of the basic car and the many original 1965 features still in situ.

Back home in Coventry we quickly gave the car a good wash, polish, and servicing after its period of inactivity. Temptation got the better of me and I steered The Macau out of Canley Classics gate straight on to Triumphs old test route mentioned by Fred Nicklin above, and cobwebs were duly dispensed with (in both me and the car!).

Since then The Macau has been regularly exercised including re-visiting the Mira test track with Fred Nicklin driving ( Classic Car Magazine article reproduced here), a blat around Enstone Airfield ( Practical Classics Magazine article reproduced here), and being displayed at the NEC Classic Car show and the Triumph Show at Stoneleigh.

The Macau Spitfire on the runway at Enstone Airfield in 2002

David Lloyd paying us a visit to inspect his handywork.

David worked at the Triumph and actually drew up the Macau's special features. He was also responsible for the manufacture of the Macau's fibre glass panelwork including the rear deck, and hump. David has promised to help us reinstate a more sympathetic (to the original) hump.

The Wanderer Returns

Save a brief visit to these shores in the mid 1990s Triumph's most famous racecar has been wandering the globe since it left Coventry in 1965.

Now back in Coventry for good care of Canley Classics Triumph Specialists The Macau's future is assured.

Soon to be housed in a purpose built museum dedicated to Triumph, growing to become one of the largest collections of Triumph prototypes, racecars, and memorabilia in the world.

Originally built for the 1965 Macau Grand Prix in which it finished third overall it had many further successes in the Far East before being shipped to Triumphs American racing department.

Here it was modified by Triumph tuning Guru Kas Kastner for a further period of racing. Dropping into temporary obscurity in the late 1970s early 1980s, at one time actually used as a road car by a Texan owner in the mid 1980s.

Surfacing at a Classic car auction in Switzerland in the early 1990s it was bought and kept in a private collection in Switzerland until last week.

Now in need of sympathetic restoration the car is however in remarkably original condition for a well used former racecar. After The Macau's period of inactivity the engine needed a little work before it was again fired up for a short drive along the roads it left 35 years ago.