Monday, November 8, 2010

The Last Triumph

Here in the US, we associate the Triumph marque with sports cars.Most people here do not realize that Triumph also produced comfortable and sporty saloon (that's a sedan, cowboy) cars not unlike modern offerings from BMW. While we did get the Herald, it was intended fill the need for a small, economical family car. Sitting in a showroom alongside growly TR sports cars didn't hurt its' image either.

But the lucky folks in the Triumph's home market got all sorts of interesting family cars that offered a measure of performance and style. The Triumph Vitesse, Dolomite and Toledo models were Triumph TRs (or Spitfires) in sharp Italian suits. I've had the pleasure of seeing a rather tasty, if rare on these shores, Triumph Dolomite Sprint at both British Car Festival in Fairhope and at British Car Day in New Orleans.I could love me some Dolly Sprint!

But the last car to carry the Triumph badge (into oblivion, it turns out) was a four door car with some serious Honda DNA in its line. The Triumph Acclaim was the first of the collaborative effort between Honda of Japan and British Leyland. The story of the two firms tie-up is a fascinating one and can be read here.

The Acclaim was a mildly restyled second generation Honda Civic (Ballade in some markets) with a surprising amount of British content. It was built in the former Morris Cowley plant in Oxford. There was very little to separate the Acclaim from its Civic/Ballade brother visually, but it was extensively re-tuned and detailed for home market tastes - the interior received a thorough restyle.

After only three years of production the Acclaim (and Triumph) names were put out to pasture, but Honda continued a relationship with Rover which eventually brought the Sterling marque to America. But that's another story.

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