Triumph Roadster – 1946

How do you challenge a fabulous machine like the SS Jaguar 100? That was the question facing Sir John Black of the Standard Motor Company, who assumed the awesome Jaguar would be back after World War II (he was right, though sadly for him the resulting X K 120 was even better than its predecessor). Still, Black’s hopeful answer was to task the newly acquired Triumph Motor Company with the job of producing a competitor.

The plans that emerged were to evolve into the postwar Triumph Roadster which — though it never did manage to be any sort of competition for the new Jaguar —has become a classic in its own right.

Retro styling harked back unapologetically to those great 1930s coachbuilt classics, and the 1800 was launched at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1947. A bench seat was designed to accommodate three (necessitating a column change) whilst two more could perch on the rear dickey (reached via a step on the back bumper). This pair was protected by a folding windscreen, but forever remained outside the Roadster’s folding soft top. The car’s sweeping front wings were slightly bulbous and the headlamps appeared to hang in midair, whilst the grille was set well back from the front bumper. All of which added up to a very attractive — but unsuccessful — car.

The 1800 was succeeded by the 2000 Roadster with its larger engine, but the old-fashioned styling that so appeals to modern taste was not much appreciated in the early 1950s, when people were looking forward to an exciting new ‘you’ve never had it so good’ world. Coupled with the ruinous level of purchase tax on larger cars, this sentiment killed the Roadster in 1949. Sadly, this child of the 1930s born in the 1940s never got the chance to grow up.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

UK

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

1946 (until 1948)

ENGINE:

1,775 cc or 2,088 cc Straight Four

PERFORMANCE: 1800 – top speed of 75 mph (121 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 34.4 secs 2000 – top speed of 77 mph (124 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 27.9 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Jersey detective Bergerac managed to drive one of these handsome cars on TV, but emulating him isn’t easy. Only some 2,500 1800s and a symmetrical 2,000 2,000s were made and those that survive are jealously guarded by besotted owners.

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