The Dolomite was the final addition to Triumph's small-car range, sharing the same basic body shell, which had started in 1965 with the Triumph 1300. Designed to be a replacement for the rear-wheel drive Triumph Herald, the 1300 was originally fitted with a 1,296 cc engine and front-wheel drive. The 1300 did not sell as well as was hoped so there was a major redesign in 1970 and two evolved versions were released with extended and remodelled front and rear styling by Michelotti.
The Triumph Toledo was a cheaper and more basic variant of the 1300, but with conventional rear-wheel drive. The Triumph 1500, released at the same time retained the front-wheel drive set-up from the 1300, in 1973 the 1500 was updated, renamed the 1500TC and given rear wheel drive using the Dolomite drivetrain, in 1976 it was merged into the Dolomite line-up.
The Triumph Dolomite was unveiled at the London Motor Show in October 1971 as the successor for the upmarket variants of the front-wheel drive designs, and to replace the six-cylinder Triumph Vitesse, a sporting relative of the Herald. Initially, the only version available used the new slant-four 1,854 cc engine, which mated an alloy overhead cam head to an iron block, providing 91 bhp (68 kW) which offered sprightly performance. This was a version of the engine that the company was already providing to Saab for use in their 99 model.
The car was aimed at the new compact performance-luxury sector, vying for sales against cars such as the BMW 2002 and Ford Cortina GXL, and was offered with a high level of standard equipment, including twin headlamps, a clock, full instrumentation, luxury seats and carpets, a heated rear window, and a cigar lighter. The car was capable of 100 mph (160 km/h), with 60 mph (97 km/h) coming up in just over 11 seconds. An overdrive gearbox was soon made available as an option and there was also an optional automatic transmission.
Although the Dolomite proved to be refined and rapid, competitors such as the BMW 2002 had a performance advantage which was costing Triumph dearly, both in terms of sales and prestige. To remedy this, Triumph unveiled the Dolomite Sprint in June 1973.
OK - so it started out as a front wheel drive 1300 Herald replacement, and morphed by stages into a rear wheel drive performance luxury saloon. With this messy pedigree it did not deserve in any way to end up the well balanced, tight, sporty little car it became. I drove two of these back in the day which belonged to my father and my own later Jaguar S Type and BMW 1 Series reminded me of what a sorted car the Dolomite was. They reminded me of it very strongly. Although one of my customers, who was a development engineer for Ford at the time the Dolomite was around, describes it as 'just like a BMW but without the reliability and with added rust', which is also true. Like the Rover SD1 it was a brilliant car let down by British Leyland production standards.
|Vanguards VA53000; Triumph Dolomite Sprint; Yellow & Black||Vanguards VA05300; Triumph Dolomite Sprint; Yellow & Black||Vanguards VA53001; Triumph Dolomite Sprint; British Leyland Works Rally Car||Vanguards VA53002; Triumph Dolomite Sprint; West Yorkshire Police||Vanguards VA05303; Triumph Dolomite Sprint; 1975 BTCC Champion; Andy Rouse; RN40|
|Vanguards VA05304; Triumph Dolomite Sprint; Brooklands Green||Vanguards VA05305; Triumph Dolomite 1850 Automatic; White||Vanguards VA05306; Triumph Dolomite Sprint; Nottingham Constabulary||
Vanguards TC1003; Triumph Collection 3 Pce Set
|Vanguards VA05308; Triumph Dolomite Sprint; Black, 30th Anniversary|
|Vanguards VA05309; Triumph Dolomite Sprint; Tahiti Blue||Vanguards VA05310; Triumph Dolomite Sprint; Magenta||Vanguards VA05311; Triumph Dolomite 1500 HL; Sandglow; Hidden Treasures||Vanguards VA05312; Triumph Dolomite Sprint; 1978 Production Car Championship; Gerry Marshall|