The Triumph Dolomite is a car that was produced by Triumph Motor Company from 1934 to 1940. It first appeared in 1934 as a sports car and the name was also used from 1937 on a series of sporting saloons and open cars until 1939 when the company went into receivership. A number were still sold and registered in 1940, though it is uncertain whether the receiver or new owner turned out cars from spare parts, or sold off completed cars. All except the Straight 8 featured a "waterfall" grille styled by Walter Belgrove, versions of the saloons with conventional grilles were sold as Continental models.
Dolomite Straight 8
The first use of the Dolomite name was in 1934, when it was used for a 8-cylinder sports car which resembled the Alfa Romeo 8C. However this car did not make production, only 3 being made. The engine was of 1990 cc capacity with twin overhead camshafts and fitted with a Roots type supercharger. The engine output was 120 bhp (89 kW) at 5500 rpm, giving the car a top speed of over 110 mph (175 km/h). Lockheed hydraulic brakes with large 16-inch (400 mm) drums were fitted. The pressed steel chassis was conventional with a beam front axle and half-elliptic springs all round.
One of the cars was entered in the 1935 Monte Carlo Rally driven by Donald Healey but was withdrawn after being written off in a collision with a railway train on a level crossing in Denmark.
Largely because of the financial troubles of the company, the car never went into production. Some spare engines and chassis were later assembled into complete cars by a London company called High Speed Motors (HSM).
Dolomite 14/60 and 16
The Dolomite name was again used from 1937 to 1940. The car this time had a 1767 cc four-cylinder engine and saloon body. The design was overseen by Donald Healey and featured a striking new design of radiator grille by Walter Belgrove.The cars were marketed as "the finest in all the land" and targeted directly at the luxury sporting saloon market.
There was also a 6-cylinder version, the '16', of 1991 cc capacity. The cars received excellent reviews from the period motoring press.
This is an open version of the 14/60, announced in April 1938, with seating for three people on a single bench seat and "two additional outside seats in the tail, reminiscent of the dickey seat that was at one time common" for two more people behind.
An increased compression ratio and mild further engine tuning justified a changed designation from 14/60 to 14/65 (where 14 was the fiscal horsepower and 65 was the claimed actual horsepower). The car was announced with the 1,767 cc (107.8 cu in) engine with twin SU carburettors, but in July 1938 a slightly longer wheelbase version powered by a 1,991 cc (121.5 cu in) engine fed by triple SUs joined the range while the saloon version featuring the same 1991 cc engine still made do with just two SU carburettors. No power output figure was quoted by the manufacturers for the 1991 cc Dolomite.
Triumph had been moving progressively upmarket during the 1930s, and the 1938 Dolomites were very well equipped, with winding windows in the doors, automatic chassis lubrication, a leather-bound steering wheel adjustable for rake and reach, dual hydraulic brake circuits, twin trumpet horns, and spot lamps included in the price.There was even a tray of fitted tools slotted beneath the driver's seat cushion, and for an extra 18 guineas buyers could specify a radio.
The body was aluminium over a rot-proofed ash frame. Like many Triumphs of that time, the car followed the American trend of concealing its radiator behind a flamboyant shining metal grill. The British market, then as now, was in many ways a conservative one, however, and, before Dolomite production was suspended completely, Triumph had time to introduce a "Vitesse"-branded version of the Dolomite on which the grill had been removed and the car's own radiator was exposed in the traditional manner.
In 1939, less than a month after Britain declared war on Germany, and before civilian automobile availability had been withdrawn by government in either country, the Autocar magazine featured a road test of the two-litre Dolomite Roadster coupe. By this time the manufacturer's published price had risen to £495. The testers recorded a mean maximum speed of 78 mph (126 km/h), with a best timed maximum speed of 81 mph (130 km/h)). Acceleration from rest to 50 mph (80 km/h) was timed at 15 seconds. The testers appear to have been impressed by everything except the ambient weather.
The experience of producing hand beaten aluminium panels made the Coventry plant where the Dolomite was built a natural candidate for aircraft production as this was ramped up. This also attracted attention from the Luftwaffe, and the plant fell victim to bombing in 1940.
A coupé was shown, but never went into production.
Dolomite 1 1/2 litre
In 1938 a smaller-engined version with 1496 cc engine was announced and available as a saloon or tourer. The 1767 cc engine was an option at first but became standard in 1939.
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