Iconic Cars Of The Past

Some of the most beautiful machines ever built

No. 9 - the Triumph Dolomite roadster

Triumph Dolomite Roadster image

The Triumph Dolomite Roadster was a car that should have been a great success, but it wasn't. It's problems were not so much confined to the car itself, as to the financial problems of the company that built it.

The Dolomite range had been in existence since 1934 and included both open top cars and sporting saloons. When the Roadster was introduced in 1938 it boasted a two litre engine which gave it a top speed of 80 miles an hour. It could seat five people; three on a bench seat and two on a 'Dickie' seat at the rear; not the most comfortable way of travelling but quite popular, at the time, nevertheless.

On the downside it was more expensive than the Jaguar SS100 and less powerful. On the plus side, however, it was a very attractive looking car, with wind down windows, spot lamps and a leather covered steering wheel; fittings that we take for granted now, but which were pretty rare then. In short it was just the sort of macho sports car that was going to become so popular after the end of the war.

It also had good backers. Donald Healey, the racing driver, was one of the brains behind the company. He had already won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1931 driving a 4.5 litre Invicta and had come second the following year. In 1935 he tried to continue his success driving a Dolomite Straight 8, but his car was demolished by train on a foggy level crossing. Perhaps this was a portent of more bad luck to come for the company.

Worse bad luck came in July of 1939. Triumph had been a major manufacturer of motorbikes and perhaps if they had stuck with them they would have fared better. Howver they had always sruggled to make money, particularly on cars, and the inevitable happened when the money ran out and the company went bankrupt. Production continued under new owners. the Standard Motor Company, but a German air raid in 1940 destroyed the factory they were made in, and that was the end of the Triumphl Dolomite Roadster, after a mere 200 had been built.

Healey went on to a successful career manufacturing top-quality cars, and we can only surmise what would have happened to the Dolomite had fate been kinder to it.


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