Thursday, October 15, 2009

The 'Watch Fob Rolls Royce'

Ask most British car enthusiasts about Triumphs and they will almost certainly mention the two seat TR series or Spitfire sports cars. It is rare that you'll hear of the Triumph Mayflower - even rarer seeing one on US roads.

The Mayflower was Triumph's attempt to take a small car upscale, not unlike the BMC Mini and 1100/1300 saloon luxury variants that came along later. Sporting 'razor edge' styling, the little Triumph did its best to imitate the coachbuilt Bentleys and Rolls of the day and it was thought that the styling would appeal to the American market.

Behind the impossibly large radiator grill sat a 1.2 liter four cylinder flathead engine cranking out 38 BHP. It had enough grunt to propel the limousine wannabe to a nearly 63 MPH top speed and boasting zero to 50 times of 26.6 seconds. A three speed, all-synchro gearbox with a column mounted shifter took care of getting all that power to the rear wheels. The rear was suspended on leaf springs while the independent front rode on coil springs. The front suspension was later used on the TR2 sports car.

Like the similarly sized Morris Minor, the Mayflower was a unitary, all steel body design. Unlike the contemporary Minor, the Mayflower was priced fairly high (
£505) for the market at the time.

Over 35,000 Mayflowers were built from 1949 until the end of production in 1953. Around 150 'ute' (that's pickup truck to you, cowboy) versions were built in Australia.

Not surprisingly, the 'watch fob Rolls-Royce' did not meet sales expectations in the US, although it found a little warmer reception in Canada.

Photo courtesy Mark Mitchell Brown

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