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About eight years ago I took part in a classic car run that ended at the Churnet Valley heritage railway near Leek, Staffs.
Unbeknown to me, a 1940s event was in full swing across that weekend. I parked my anachronistic Triumph Herald 13/60 Convertible next to a large number of pre-war cars and set off to join what looked like a group of characters from Foyle’s War.
After that brief encounter I was hooked: I had to get myself a 1940s car.
I searched all the usual websites and eventually found a Triumph Renown, unbelievably just a couple of miles away from where I lived and where my wife was born and brought up. After a quick phone call I was round there like a shot.
The owner opened his garage doors and there it stood: black and shiny, with a huge chrome radiator and headlamps to match.
I had been expecting a rusting relic, the type that’s commonly seen on so many of the classic car programmes that are so popular nowadays, but it was in fantastic condition considering the modest asking price.
Alas, as the saying goes, all that glisters is not gold. The steering was practically seized, there was horsehair hanging out of splits in the bench seats and the roof leaked like the proverbial sieve.
Oh yes, and the fuel tank promptly dropped most of its contents all over the forecourt of my local garage. Previous owners must never have put in more than a couple of gallons because the seal had perished where the two halves of the tank are joined together.
The seat and tank repairs I entrusted to professionals, but the many seized steering joints I sorted myself with the aid of a large grease gun.
The beauty of this type of car is that the front end is high enough off the ground to make the grease points easily accessible. And the leaking roof I fixed by filling the gutters with sticky sealant topped off with a narrow, black rubber trim. I know this doesn’t sound too good but it worked and it blends in nicely.
Some readers may have realised that Renowns are post-war cars and that mine, built in 1951, would not be suitable for 1940s events.
But, as I am constantly explaining to people at car shows, the Second World War virtually put a stop to automotive design and innovation. Post-war, car manufacturers had to carry on with pre-war production methods and styles.
And, because of a shortage of steel at the time, the Triumph has aluminium body panels and a part-timber frame, just like many of the wartime aircraft. This also makes the Renown a light car, which certainly helps with acceleration because it only has a 2088cc engine mated to a three-speed column-change gearbox.
So far, the car has given little trouble and my wife and I happily drive over the Pennines via the highest motorway in England to attend North York Moors Historic Railway’s annual ’40s event.
Only the temperature gauge gives cause for concern, because it gets a little too close to 90ºC for comfort as we near the summit of the M62!
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- Owned by Graham Sinagola
- First classic Triumph Herald 13/60 Convertible
- Dream classic Triumph Dolomite Roadster
Shared heart: MG Midget 1500 vs Triumph Spitfire 1500
Separated at birth: Saab 99 vs Triumph Dolomite
Budget sporting saloons: Triumph Vitesse vs Vauxhall Viva GT