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Homepage. This page: A bent Triumph and strange find under the back seat
Uncle Joe's stories about cars and motoring

A Triumph gets wrecked.

"Uncle Joe", a name used to protect the innocent (and not-so-innocent,) has kindly volunteered his own motorcar and motorcycle memories. A series of stories will be featured here at oldclassiccar, all of which are true, based on the vehicles that Joe has owned, or worked on, over the years.

Story of a classic Triumph car.

If you have similar stories that you'd be willing to share with the world, I'd be happy to feature them here too, using an alias if you'd prefer!!

I've always enjoyed reading people's firsthand recollections of cars, and their foibles, in years gone by. Stories similar to this can be found on the main Motoring Memories Project page, which can be found here.

No-one at oldclassiccar necessarily agrees with, or condones, the events in these stories, and opinions given are not those of the site editor, but of the contributor!

A Strange Triumph - thing you might find in the back of a Vitesse!

Triumph Vitesse picture

My brother had purchased a used Triumph Vitesse. The early 1600cc model, finished in Olive Green, with a Cactus Green stripe. In spite of the fact that there must have been quite a few in this colour combination, this is only one that I can remember ever having seen. It was in absolutely perfect condition, the only problem with it being a slipping clutch. He managed to get the price down quite substantially due to this, no doubt thinking that the clutch was a job for little brother to fix, which is what I did.

It turned out that it was a real flier, regularly going “off the clock” (on a private road, of course officer!) and both of us really enjoyed driving it. We covered many miles in it, using it for everything, from going to work to going up to the Inverness area of Scotland, which we did a number of times. It always proved to be totally reliable, and as I say, a true joy. The only problems with the car were the Rear Swing Axle, which had a tendency to “tuck under” on corners, and the fact that we were always getting pulled over by the Police! At the time, we thought that this was because we both had a tendency to drive a little to enthusiastically. Eventually, we both got to know some of the local officers quite well, and some of these stops involved quite funny exchanges.

One fateful night, when my brother was driving, a car pulled out of a side street and wrecked most of the Triumph´s left side, from the headlights to just in front of the rear wheel. It was of course a write off, but a bit of skilful negotiating from our Mother (!) managed to get us more money than he had originally paid, plus the car, but without the “written off” stamp in the log book.

There was a reason behind the fact that we wanted to keep it. A common reason for writing off this range of cars was the fact that the one-piece bonnet was expensive to replace. Therefore, they could be written off with a lot less damage than some other cars. But a friend, (Red from a previous story), had pointed out that the bonnet was in fact built up from a number of spot welded panels, and as he happened to work at a Triumph dealership, he could get them at Trade price. So therefore we reasoned that it would not take much money to get it roadworthy again. For once, we were right. A £5 panel, headlight and a bit of panel beating repaired the bonnet. A 30 bob (£1.50p) door from a breakers yard fixed the door. Then there was the rear panel, in front of the wheel, that needed to be knocked out. The final job. To gain access to this rear panel, the rear seat and interior trim had to be removed. Just as I was about to remove the rear seat, one of the friendly coppers drove round in his Panda car.

“I´m glad you turned up just now,” I said cheekily “I need a hand lifting the seat out!” We had a bit of a chat, smiling at all the neighbours looking at us from behind their curtains, and then I got the help! The first thing that we saw after removing the back seat was that there was a number of new and used needles where the seat used to be. I remember seeing a little smile come on his face, and he asked me if he could take them with him. I didn´t see what he wanted with them, but told him of course he could. He picked them up very carefully, and took them away with him.

A few days later, a CID officer turned up at my house, and asked me if I would be prepared to make a statement regarding these needles. When I asked why, he wouldn´t tell me anything. Only that I was “helping the police with their enquiries.” I know know why everyone gets worried when they hear this phrase, I sure did! But he did promise to make sure that I was informed in due course.

The Vitesse was repaired, and got a nice respray in its original colours. True to his word, the CID officer did make sure that I was informed as to the reason they wanted me to make a statement. Apparently, the previous owner had been suspected of being involved in the drugs trade. But thanks to my statement, and the fact that a Constable had been in the right place at the right time, they had managed to get a bit more evidence against him. I dont know if he got jailed, I never found out. But I would like to think that he was.

There is a final part to this story. Some months later, the engine lost all compression, and, instead of reconditioning the 1600, I decided to replace it with a 2 litre, modified to 2.5. At the time, I had read an article in I believe “Hot Car” magazine explaining how this could be done. However, it proved to be a far more easy job to recondition the 1600. You know why? The Vitesse had already been converted to a 2500! No wonder it was so fast!

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