|This page: Notes on the key features of the Herald range
The Triumph Herald range.
Standard-Triumph's Small-car offering.
S-T however needed something new with which to take the fight to BMC and Ford, who would be launching the new A40, and the 105E Anglia respectively, by the end of the decade.
Tasked with this arduous task was the sharp-lined Herald, penned by Michelotti of Italy (the A40 was designed by rival Italian styling house Pininfarina). Biggest surprise was the choice of separate chassis construction, even more surprising given that the Standard Eight (and other variants) were all of unitary, one-piece construction. On the face of it, this was a decidedly backwards step, and was caused by issues with the supply of complete unitary bodyshells. On the plus side, the separate chassis approach would give S-T great flexibility when offering different variations of Herald body, and an economic way of producing very successful spin-offs such as the Vitesse, the 2 seater convertible Spitfire, and the 6 cylinder GT6 coupe. The Herald would however introduce their new front and (independent) rear suspensions arrangements, both of which would continue in production til the last of the 1500 Spitfires, some 20 years later.
The chassis was a simple affair, comprising two box sections running longitudinally, narrowing for the passenger compartment. Unlike the Spitfire derivative, the Herald chassis also had outriggers running close to the edge of the lower side body (the Spitty instead had body sills that were structural, those on the Herald simply screwed on for cosmetic purposes). At the rear, lengthy outriggers (again not used on the Spit) came out at an angle, beneath the boot floor. Up front the chassis widened to house the engine and transmission, the rack and pinion steering rack being fixed to a front chassis crossmember immediately ahead of the engine. The steering column was designed to collapse in the event of a front-end shunt, lessening the chance of the driver coming into contact with the column. Mention must go to the car's excellent turning circle, a feature much appreciated by drivers of the many Heralds that saw a life as a driving school car.
Braking was drum all around, hydraulically operated, with 8" diameter drums up front, and 7" at the rear.
As mentioned, the rear end featured a basic independent, or 'swing axle', suspension layout. Springing was thanks to a single, transverse, leaf spring - slightly archaic when compared to the neat setup found at the front of the car. Things were kept in check thanks to radius rods that ran rearwards from a rear chassis outrigger, picking up on the hub. Rusty Heralds in later life would often fail the MOT thanks to the radius rods pulling out of a corroded outrigger, rot being an omnipresent risk to the Herald chassis after some years of use.
The first Heralds came fitted with the 948cc engine first seen in the Standard Ten some years earlier, fed by a single Solex carb. Quoted power output was 34.5bhp. Synchro was to be found on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears in the 4 speed 'box, operated by a remote shift.
On its launch in April '59, priced £702, the Herald would be available in 2 variants - the basic 2 door saloon (no 4 door was ever offered by the factory in the UK), and the Coupe. The latter, basically a 2+2 car fitted with a rakishly streamlined hardtop (replacing the conventional, permanently bolted-on, roof assembly of the saloon) also benefited from some engine tweaks, raising power to 45bhp.
The bodyshell of the Herald allowed such interesting variations as the Coupe. The body, itself formed from a number of sub-assemblies, was simply bolted to the chassis. In recent years many saloons have had their rear ends removed, and replaced with that lifted from a stripped convertible, forming the basis of a much more desirable variant (when the sun was shining!).
One big plus of the Herald was its engine (and suspension) accessibility, thanks to the entire front end tipping forward, bonnet, wings and all. The Spit and GT6 would be similarly gifted a few years after the Herald launch. Two hefty chrome catches secured the bonnet to the bulkhead, one each side behind the front wheel, and these early cars also had a large pull handle fitted to the centre of the bonnet panel.
The spec of the standard car was quite lavish (no DeLuxe was available), especially when compared to some base-model Fords and Austins. Trim was covered with PVC, full carpets were fitted, and both front windows wound down (unlike on the Mk1 A40 for instance). Other items often found on other manufacturers' options list, but standard on the Herald, included the heater, passenger sunvisor with mirror, screen washers, and opening front quarterlights in the doors. A single large dial gave the key information to the driver, incorporating a fuel gauge beneath the speedo. Usefully in a saloon car, the rear seat could be folded flat, allowing long objects to be placed in the boot area without having to drive with the externally-hinged bootlid open. The floor was quite flat, the tank being positioned in the n/s wing.
The car met with instant approval from most quarters. It was light and easy to drive and, so long as corners were not taken too vigorously, the ride and handling caused few complaints. In extremis however the simple independent rear end could 'jack up' during quick cornering, often leading to a rapid excursion into the nearest hedgerow, so care was required in damp or slippery conditions.
A few months in to production and the Coupe's twin carb setup would be offered as an option on the base Herald, albeit for an extra £35. Less than a year into production came the convertible, always one of the most popular of all Herald variations. When folded down, the hood would be beneath the level of the rear section, offering a sleek profile and no bulky hood to obscure car parking manouevres. The trade-off was a smaller rear compartment for back seat passengers, so things could get a little cramped back there.
In 1961 the standard Herald spec would, in effect, become the De Luxe variant (never known as such however), with the introduction of the cheap and cheerful 948S. Trim was low-rent, there was no standard heater, and some other niceties were gone - this did though mean the price dropped from £702 of the original car, to £648, bringing it into line with the basic offerings from BMC and Ford at the time. In April of '61 the standard car would receive an uprated 1147cc version of the S-T 4 cylinder engine (39bhp), leaving just the S with the original 948 powerplant. The new car would be badged as a '1200'. This engine would also be used in the newly-launched Spitfire 4 in 1962. The 948 Coupe and other similarly-engined versions would disappear altogether from the catalogue shortly after the switch to the 1147 engine.
By 1962 Triumph were getting into the swing (!) of adapting the mix-and-match opportunities of the Herald chassis and structure. In a definite move up-market came the 6 cylinder Vitesse, which was instantly identifiable as a big brother to its smaller cousin thanks to twin headlamps each side, and a decidedly more pokey exhaust note. Other external changes were made to the grille, badging and other small trim items. The engine owed much to the old 2 litre 6 pot engine found some years before in the Standard Vanguard 6, although with smaller bores giving a capacity of 1600cc. Bigger brakes were fitted, and extra stiffening had to be made to the chassis frame. With the heavier engine mounted up front, and the Herald's rear suspension configuration, the new Vitesse was easily as tail-happy as the 1147cc car when given some welly around the bends.
In '63 came the 12/50 Herald, essentially a higher-spec 1200 with the tweaked 1147 engine from the Spitfire 4. Biggest benefit of this model was its full length sunroof, offering most of the wind-in-the-hair thrills experienced in the convertible, without suffering the downsides. The 12/50 was the first Herald to come with front disc brakes as standard, previously only available as an option (standard on the Spitfire). The following year would see the 1200 Coupe and S models deleted from the catalogue. The range by the end of 1964 would comprise of the 1200 saloon, convertible, and estate, and the high-spec 12/50. The Vitesse, outside of the scope of this article, would continue as before.
Little else changed for a few years, until August of 1967 when the 13/60 came out, powered by the enlarged version of the usual engine, also seen on the front wheel drive 1300 saloon and, in uprated form, under the bonnet of the Mk3 Spitfire of the same year. The familiar 'face' of the Herald would also receive a re-design, with a bonnet similar in style to the Vitesse (but with just a single headlamp each side) being used. Saloon, estate, and convertible versions of the 13/60 would continue to be offered, along with a base-model 1200 which received little customer interest this late in life. By the end of the sixties, the Herald, with its separate chassis construction, was getting long in the tooth and not set to receive any further updates. Triumph's attentions were now firmly set on the 1300, 1500 and Dolomite models that were coming on-stream. Herald production finally came to an end in 1971, when the last of the 13/60 estate and rag top versions were built.
Other Herald material on oldclassiccar:
Triumph parts for sale and wanted ads
Scrap Herald 1200 photograph (scrapyard section)
Herald 1200s Period b/w Herald photographs
Other sites that feature Heralds:
The Triumph Herald site
Triumph Herald restoration story
Herald owner's story
Herald brochure scans - also features the Indian-built 4 door Herald, known as the Standard Mark III.
Go back to the Popular Classic cars page here.
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