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British Rumble Seat: 1948 Triumph 1800 Roadster

When most of us think of rumble seats, we think of classics like the Model A, but many foreign manufactures built sport roadsters with rumble seats too. While American manufactures stopped making rumble seats by the late ’30s, some foreign cars continued to be offered with them all the way into the ’50s. One reason these trunk based seats disappeared was that rear passengers were buffeted by wind at high speeds. Triumph attempted to solve this problem in 1946 with their Roadster which featured a special lift up windscreen for rear passengers. An example of this unique roadster has been pulled from long term storage in a barn and is now being offered here on eBay with no reserve and a current bid of $676.

This car is going to need a complete restoration inside and out. Finding parts for this car could be a challenge, but if your a handy carpenter you could build much of the interior and floor yourself. Because of the steel shortage during the time these cars were being manufactured, Triumph made extensive use of wood and other less commonly used materials. The floors, dash, and various other interior components were made out of wood, while much of the coachwork was built out of aluminum. The body was then set on to a hand wielded steel tube chassis. This combination has its pros and cons, as the aluminum itself won’t rust but it will cause corrosion when mounted to steel. Let’s just hope that there isn’t too much where the two meet.

The engine looks to be complete, but is not running. If the engine isn’t seized, getting this Jaguar supplied inline 4 running shouldn’t take too much work. The seller believes a new head gasket was installed and they have some extra parts that will be included in the sale. This car isn’t that heavy, but this 1.8 liter engine didn’t produce a lot of power, so don’t plan on winning any drag races with it.

One of the rumble seats is visible here with the unique lift up windscreen lowered. Like most rumble seats, these don’t look to be overly comfortable, but the windscreen would make riding in the back a bit more comfortable and we are sure that for short trips it would be a fun experience that would turn lots of heads. Triumph claimed that this car could comfortably carry 5 people and while we don’t know about the comfortable part, it was probably a good way to convince the wife that a roadster made sense.

As you can see, some of the body components are made of steel. These areas of sheet metal are rusty, but will easily be repaired. Let’s just hope the same can be said for the tube chassis. If any of the structure is seriously rusted, this car’s restoration costs will more then exceed the value. With any luck the steel structure isn’t too bad and will be salvageable. It would be incredibly sad to see this car scraped, as there were only 2500 of the 1800 powered roadsters built. We doubt that many made it our way, so this could be one of only a handful on our side of the globe.

This beautiful Triumph Roadster shows just how awesome this car could look after a full restoration. Even with the rumble seat open and the rear windscreen up, the car looks great. This car might not be fast, but it would be a blast to take out for a cruise around town and we are sure it would be the main attraction at nearly any car show or parade. With bidding still under a thousand dollars, there is a chance that this project will be had for a good price. Hopefully a buyer with a love for quirky British roadsters will come along and save this car from the crusher.


  1. Avatar photo Bear

    “Frame is rusted out in some places and will require those sections to be replaced.”
    That sounds like $$$ are gonna be needed in excess!! Probably best to plan on rebuilding most of the frame. Might be more cost effective (& reliable) that patching it here & there!
    “…could not pull the engine thru by hand because I was starting to bend the aluminum fan blade and stopped.”
    I wish he had just used a wrench instead… Now the fan will probably be out of balance.
    That said, it IS now on my “Watch List”!! :-)

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  2. Avatar photo Horse Radish

    You can nitpick all you want, but at the current price ($769) and even twice or three times that it be worth a try.

    There is a dealer in NY with a name starting and ending in ‘G’ who would have gobbled this up and resell it as is without making it any better.
    So there is profiteers eyeing this one.
    “Luckily” it needs a LOT of work.
    In other words, this will change hands several times before it will be restored, but I pray the right man will get it NOW and put it together and back on the road.
    Unfortunately for me it’s on the wrong side, and I don’t mean the steering.
    Tis is a fantastic and unique car well worth the effort. I’m sure not too many are still around……

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  3. Avatar photo Grant

    As far as I know the engines were built by The Standard- Triumph Motor company and were used in the Jaguar 1.5 litre until that car went out of production, then used in the 1800 Triumph Roadster. In England the rear seat was called a “Dickey seat”- not sure how the name came about though! The Triumph Roadster Club in the UK caters for these cars, as well as the Razor-edge Club who cater for the 1800, 2000, and Renown saloon cars. The Standard Motor Club may also be of help to a potential restorer.

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  4. Avatar photo Donald C

    This car is awesome,haven’t seen anything like it! LOVE IT!!!!

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  5. Avatar photo rudy

    hi, i’am looking for a Triumph 1800 Roadster do you still have these one?
    phone me on 0032478494695

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    • Avatar photo Wayne

      are you still looking I know of a 1800 and 2000

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      • Avatar photo George Livesley

        Okay Wayne where are they if still available?

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  6. Avatar photo julian

    The later ones had a Triumph TR2 engine – probably lots of them lying around in the U.S.
    which means a TR4 engine would fit plus all the Moss tuning parts to give it a decent performance.
    There was a TV detective series in the UK called “Bergerac” which has made this car quite popular and if someone tells you that he’s got a Bergerac you know what he means.
    £22k plus for a reasonable runner over here.

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  7. Avatar photo George Livesley

    I have loved the design of the ’48 vintage Triumph for many years. Couldn’t afford a nice one then for $4800.00 and surely couldn’t afford one now. But if I had every car I wanted I’d have to see if the long vacated Sparks Museum in just outside Reno, NV in a town named oddly enough, Sparks!

    Like 0

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