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Eye of the Beholder: 1952 Triumph Mayflower

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This highly-desirable (to me, at least) 1952 Triumph Mayflower is in Darlington, Durham, United Kingdom, a mere half-hour west of Middlesbrough. Resident Barn Finds British vehicle guru, Jamie, wrote about a 1954 Mayflower a few months ago in left-hand-drive spec and this green car is in classic right-hand-drive configuration. Either way, I love these unusual cars. I think that they’re quite beautiful, even if some other folks have a different opinion.

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The Mayflower looks like it could be a large car in some angles, but it’s small; really small. But, still, a thirteen-foot long car is big compared to most of the unusual cars that are on my master wish list. I think that this is a great looking car, unlike what James May once said, “I’m pretty confident in saying that the ugliest car ever to sneak off a sketch pad when no one with taste or discretion was looking was the 1949 Triumph Mayflower. The Ford Edsel had an unfortunate nose, and the AMC Pacer had an unfortunate backside. But the Mayflower was ugly to its roots. Look at it, if you can bear to. Its details are ugly, its overall proportions are ugly, its very concept – as a car to appeal to Americans who believed they were directly descended from the Pilgrim Fathers – makes one shudder.” Yet another reason that I’m not a fan of that gentleman; a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, if you ask me.

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What’s wrong with this face? I mean, the car’s face, not Mr. May’s face. I think that this is a great looking car, a bit odd in proportion perhaps, but a great looking car. Look at all of its features, it’s loaded with them.

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This particular Mayflower is the Mayflower Club parts secretary’s personal car. The seller says that while it’s obviously not perfect it’s in good condition other than maybe needing to have the bumpers rechromed and the interior reupholstered. This is what it will look like once you’ve restored the interior.

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This is a 1,247cc four-cylinder with 38 hp propelling the Mayflower to around 63 mph. I really like these cars, I would absolutely love to have one someday. This particular car is found on eBay with a day left on the auction and the current bid price of £2,867 ($4,056). Do you like this unusual design or are you jumping on the ugly bandwagon with Mr. May?


  1. Avatar photo Roger Owen

    It’s always been an unusual car to me – it’s right in the middle of that design transformation period – from ‘Square’ to ‘Curved’.

    Lots of nice quirky things – trafficators with the big switch ala A30, under-dash handbrake, TR2 Steering Wheel ? (with indicator switch atop central boss? – confusing).

    I don’t know much about the side valve engine – must be from an earlier Standard Triumph model?

    I seem to remember a similar shape in the Triumph Renown.

    Great little car – in my mind it would suit a youngster wanting to make a retro style statement. Fun and not too expensive, but not sure what the parts supply is like.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Jamie Staff

      Roger, you are correct that the Renown was styled similarly. I, like Scotty, love Mayflowers :-).

      Like 0
  2. Avatar photo RayT

    I’ve always dug these! I remember seeing one on a Los Angeles street in the mid-50s and thinking it looked really strange, but somehow fascinating. I wanted one when I was a little kid, and still do.

    Actually, I’d like two: one perfectly standard (or should that be Standard?) like this one, and another with something like a full-on TR4 engine, disc brakes and whatever the suspension needs to generate more cornering power. The exteriors and interiors of both cars would be identical, naturally.

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  3. Avatar photo Puhnto

    I’m with you, Scotty, I love Mayflowers! Like a teensy weensy Rolls Royce. (But I do prefer the sunroof model, and with LHD.)

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  4. Avatar photo z1rider

    In Rolls Royce parlance isn’t the styling known as “razor”? Referring to the sharp creases in the sheet metal?

    I’d love to have one of these. I think these get criticized for the unusual proportions more than anything. The styling influence from RR is pretty obvious.

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  5. Avatar photo Bill

    Of course it’s ugly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t want one! i think they are cool and would be a lot of fun.. but honestly..It’s the Pug dog of automobiles.

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  6. Avatar photo Jim Mc

    I dunno. I mean, I’m not one to talk as I love late 40s & early 50s MoPars (ugly as they get) but this thing looks like an English mini-me hearse.

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  7. Avatar photo Nessy

    I had one of these. Black with red interior. I went to see a car up for sale and the guy also had a Mayflower so I talked him into selling me the Mayflower. Cute car, however, it did not run. The price was cheap enough and it looked good at first but oh boy the floors were so rusty. I never got around to getting the car running and sold it to a guy who wanted to put a big block Chevy in it. I wonder if that ever happened….

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  8. Avatar photo Luki

    In 1975 I worked at an Import Shop (Sales and service of anything that straggled through the door). One day a Mayflower showed up needing a tune up.

    I can still remember thinking the styling was suited to a much larger car.

    PS. Is that chrome in a can on the front bumper?

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  9. Avatar photo Michael Rogers Member

    with all the ‘melted plastic dishpan’ stuff now on the roads who’s to judge that the Mayflower which was the absolute tail end of a long line of knife edge/razer edge styled Brits is ugly?
    It of course SHOULD have a large glass–not crystal mascot on the front and many touring badges and of course several Brit cloisonne’ badges and the white UK plate on the boot, A Focus 4 or such would make it drivable It would be appreciated anywhere it wandered!~

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  10. Avatar photo George

    I’ve always loved the look of these from when I first saw a picture of one when I was a little kid. I like the midget Rolls Royce vibe that they give. I’ve heard that handling and performance were horrible, so I want an original bodyshell and interior with upgraded suspension and power. Can you imagine a track day version?

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  11. Avatar photo MG's

    Love the curves! The curves is what attracted me to British cars. Like my 59 MGA Coupe

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  12. Avatar photo That Guy

    I don’t disagree with James May about the Mayflower’s styling – it just doesn’t work on any level, and the disappointing sales were no surprise. But I like weird old cars, and it appeals to me as a really weird old car.

    The razor-edge styling worked far better on the Renown, a larger and better-proportioned car.

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  13. Avatar photo Andrew S Mace Member

    Easiest thing for me to do is repeat the comment I left regarding the last Mayflower featured:

    “One can easily argue that Mayflowers were underpowered, but so was pretty much everything in its class at the time. What makes the Mayflower a “challenge” to drive is the fact that the gearbox had only three forward speeds (all synchro), and the gap between 1st and 2nd was big enough to drive the proverbial truck through. It might have been a better driving car for Americans if it had that extra gear, but more importantly if it had, say, a sleeved-down version of the wet-liner Vanguard engine (something like the 1670cc version used in late 1950s and early 1960s Standard Ensigns).

    Beyond all that, styling is what it was, and you liked it or didn’t. In fairness, Mayflower to Renown is somewhat akin to AMC Gremlin to Hornet. 😉

    And beyond all THAT, it makes a great around-town car and a helluva conversation-starter!”

    Like 0

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