A Triumph of style over substance
1965 TRIUMPH 2000 JAMES ELLIOTT
My Triumph is one of those rare classics that just become an immutable part of the family from day one. I have known the car since it was born out of my pal Humphrey Hale’s Mk2 PI ‘Big Red’ that committed harakiri on the side of a Welsh farmhouse and a rust-free Mk1 shell discovered by another mate, Andy Thompson.
Although inveterate Triumph developer Thompson has moved the game on with his own 200bhp-plus #EFI-equipped
cars, this one was state-of-the- art when assembled in the early 1990s. It has a TR5 fast road cam, Sprint metering unit, Stag police-spec overdrive ’box, drilled discs, and other tweaks such as Datsun linear driveshafts to eradicate spline lock.
The car came to me after Hale and Thompson bought a goldmine in Australia (long story) and ‘The Beast’, as it was dubbed, went into storage.
I hate cars having names and this high-decibel monster is my only exception. I disinterred it shortly afterwards and it has been a constant in my life ever since. An oft-neglected constant admittedly, but it remains the most reliable car that I have ever owned.
For many years The Beast was regularly sprinted and hillclimbed, it did the #VSCC
and didn’t disgrace itself, it racked up 300 miles at Castle Combe in a day on an Enginuity trackday, and twice it has completed Club Triumph’s Round Britain Reliability Run, a 2000-mile, 48-hour charity dash.
Of course, I’ve had to carry out constant maintenance to keep the Triumph on the road, but such is its usability – and tendency to start on-the-button however long it has been stashed away – that most of the major maintenance was a long time ago. Which means that some serious work on the car is long overdue.
The gearbox is desperate for a rebuild, the whining diff is a goner (might as well replace it with an LSD, no?), the headlining looks like Anthony Perkins has been let loose on it with a carving knife, and the Cactus Green-under-black paint is so faded and varied that people ask if the Triumph is a rat-rod. And heaven knows what bodywork horrors that dodgy paint is shrouding.
The problem is that addressing any of these would mean taking the Triumph off the road. I still take the kids to school in it regularly, commute in it and enjoy it for fun family days out, like popping down to Brooklands to see in the New Year, as we did this year.
I say ‘family’ but, if the Triumph is involved, the day is unlikely to include my wife – she hates the car and the feeling would appear to be mutual. Its relationship with her has been freakily Christine-like, and the window winder once took a chunk out of her hand that merited hospital treatment. That one tested my loyalties a bit, I admit.
From top Scenes from James’s life with The Beast: Brooklands this New Year’s Day; en route to Le Mans; at the Ace Café, London; doing the Pom at Silverstone.