The Straight Eight Dolomite is the stuff of #Triumph
legend. Devised by Donald Healey to take on the might of the #Alfa-Romeo-8C
, it liberally borrowed from – some would say shamelessly ripped off – the Milanese car in specification, style and execution. The Dolomite may have very little in common with anything else that ever came out of Coventry but, as someone betrothed to the Triumph badge, this enigmatic car represents the Holy Grail.
Rob Green of Gloria Coachworks shares my enthusiasm for the model and, as the leading exponent of pre-Standard-era Triumphs, he thought it would be a rather nice thing to recreate. Thus was born one of the classic car world’s lesser-known but most delicious replicas.
Green began work on the first car in #2005
, taking four years to complete it for a customer. The end result is a remarkable doppelgänger of Healey’s Monte mount. The next – and like the genuine article, there are only two – he kept for himself. Inspired by the second of the original cars, period photos and brochure shots were used to ensure the visual accuracy of its body.
The starting point was a #1938
Dolomite (sixcylinder) chassis, which was modified and then adorned with authentic pre-war Triumph oily bits. Don’t be fooled by the clever siamesing of the exhaust pipes, though: the big difference between Green’s cars and the real thing is that his are powered by a 2-litre ‘six’ fed by triple SUs and breathing through four ports.
Using 16 gauge aluminium over an ash frame, the homage looks just right to me. Green says it took nearly 3000 hours to build and you can well believe it. No one would claim that this is an actual clone, and there are some practical modifications, but the detailing is simply wonderful from the painted wires to the leather interior. Triumph isn’t renowned for its pre-war sporting excellence, and it wasn’t so long ago that the only model recognised by the VSCC – other than the Straight Eight Dolomite – was the sixcylinder Southern Cross, of which only four or five exist from its single model year.
In spite of that, the cars feel relatively accomplished and sophisticated for the age. The crossflow 2-litre overhead-valve engine is far from asthmatic and has lusty torque, while the gearbox (with synchro on all gears except first) is a delight to use. In fact, as you zip around in the Dolomite only the weight of the steering gives it away as being a pre-war design. Green’s tribute to the Straight Eight really is a beauty, but he has ‘previous’ when it comes to the art of reviving long-lost prewar Triumphs. He explains: “My love for them goes back to the 1960s when my cousin had one. Influenced by that, I bought my first Gloria – a three-position drophead coupé – for £33.”
Having served his apprenticeship at a Rootes main agent, Green joined North Stables Coachbuilding before setting up Gloria Coachworks in 1980. He deals with all manner of classics, but about 80% of his business is Triumph-related. He reckons that he has now owned seven prewar Triumphs and restored another 37.
But it is his obsession with filling the historical gaps and the reason why these cars are so rare that fascinates me most. “It’s because there were so many variants of each model,” Green explains. “You could have a long- or short-chassis, four- or six-cylinders and loads of different body styles, so very few of each type were ever produced.” As well as resurrecting the Straight Eight, Green constructed the delectable Gloria Flow- Free using a factory body.
And he’s not finished yet. In fact, it was building a replica of the long-lost one-off #1938 #Dolomite-Fixed-Head-Coupé
that led him reluctantly to offer his own Straight Eight facsimile for sale. And when that’s done, he has an inkling he might like to build himself a Gloria van! I was intrigued to see what value the market would put on the Dolomite when it came up at Historics at Brooklands’ 7 March sale. The answer: an impressive £81,760. Testament indeed to Green’s craftsmanship.
For more information about these rare cars, visit: pre-1940triumphmotorclub. org
‘Donald Healey liberally borrowed from – some would say shamelessly ripped off – the #Alfa-Romeo
Green’s recreation of the Straight Eight is a joy to drive. Bottom: replica’s lines closer to original than the genuine cars.