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Chicken Coop Find: Standard Vanguard Sportsman

Standard Vanguard Sportsman

Let me begin by telling you that I am completely biased about this car. We own one of the 12 left running of the 901 ever produced, and the only one ever officially imported to the United States…and I love Leslie (our name for the car) dearly. Offering transatlantic styling with the heart of a Triumph TR3, this true coop find (it was in a chicken coop for 30 years!) is available here on eBay UK at no reserve.

Standard Vanguard

This is a picture of our car so you can see what a shiny one looks like and here is a link to me autocrossing it. The Sportsman was one of the earliest examples of British badge engineering, and it was a very aggressive example…think Cadillac Cimarron from Chevy Cavalier as a comparable example. The Standard Vanguard was a typical British saloon of the late ‘40s and ‘50s, with a four-cylinder wet-liner engine that formed the basis for the Triumph TR2/3A/3B/4/4A engine. A version also powered Ferguson tractors.

Vanguard Sportsman

Someone at Standard-Triumph had the bright idea that they could dress up the Vanguard and sell a version for considerably more money, possibly replacing the outdated Triumph Renown. Triumph globe emblems are featured throughout although the Triumph script is missing, leading to some theories that the decision to market it as a Standard was made at the last moment. Sportsmans differ from regular Vanguards in front end sheetmetal, engine tune, fancy interiors, suspension and brakes, but a sports sedan it isn’t!

Chicken Coop Vanguard

This Sportsman needs a lot of help, but appears largely complete; for example, I wish I had its rare air cleaner assembly for our car! Mechanical components are not that hard to find, and the Standard Motor Club has been terrific to work with even 3,000 miles away. If you buy it and ship it over here, I’ll be happy to help with what I know!

Standard Vanguard Engine

Little detailed information is offered other than the seller does not have a title and doesn’t expect that the car runs. But these engines are known for their toughness, and as long as it can be freed up, it wouldn’t surprise me if you could get it started quickly. But what would you do then?

Standard Sportsman

I’ll tell you now, it’s great fun coming to a car show and having people have no idea what you’ve brought along. All the critical pieces are there to have this Vanguard drive again, and what a coop d’etat you’d have being able to share the story with other enthusiasts. So are any of our UK readers interested?


  1. Grr

    Are you sure you even have any UK readers?

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Yes, because we frequently get submissions from them :-)

      • Doug

        Jamie, I envy you your Sportsman! I too have a rare Vanguard, it’s a 1962 Vignale. I am the second owner and have the complete history going back to when it was special ordered; the name Annabelle is what the original owner named her and I had the plates made up as a tribute. According to the Vanguard club it is the only Vignale built in lefthand drive and automatic. My car is as original as I could leave it, only the top of the back seat fabric has been replaced and two small floor patches, it even has all the original tools in the trunk! Awesome to see yours, if you ever make it up to western Canada I’d love to meet up and show you Annabelle!

        Like 1
      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Doug, that would be great! Annabelle and Leslie would get along well :-)

    • Andrew Minney

      Yep they do but we are trying to forget about cars like this!!!

      Twickenham, England

    • RickyM

      Oh yes indeed, I am over in Petts Wood, South East London/Kent in England and love the Barn Finds email articles.
      I agree with the other comments – as soon as I saw this car’s number plate, I thought it will be bought for the value of this. The least number of letters and numbers, the more it will be worth. This one would have originally been issued in the 1920’s I think so will have been transferred on this car at a later date.
      And your car is gorgeous Jamie ! You are a lucky man :-)

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Thanks, Ricky! We have a lot of fun in Leslie. My wife claims it as hers :-) We autocrossed and hillclimbed it at the Vintage Triumph Register national meet this year, had a ball! Won a time-speed-distance rallye in it as well :-)

  2. Kenny Smith

    Yep I am. Rule Britannia.
    I sadly suspect people will be more interested in the License Plate because of it’s potential value..

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Kenny, I noticed the plate…does registration have to be kept current for the plate to have value?

      • Kenny Smith

        The rules used to be that vehicles had to registered with the DVLA (our DMV) and with a current M.O.T (Ministry of Transport annual roadworthy safety test) Certificate before the “cherished” number plate can be transferred to another vehicle. However, it is clear to be see that the poor Standard above is not in a fit state to “pass” at this moment in time. But, from Nov 2012, the Government decided that pre-1960 vehicles Do Not Require this test in a “cost-cutting move” – this is probably why there is a lot of questions in the Ebay Ad of “what year is it?”. The Government have now made it far easier to for people to obtain cars like this just for access to their number plates I.M.H.O – suitable documents can be easily falsified. A good owner can still get an M.O.T test every year if they wish too – it is supposed to be a safety check after all.

  3. David

    yes i am from the uk

  4. Andrew Minney

    Try again…… forgot my own email address seeing tis car.
    At least it wasn’t the diesel version. They were slower than bicycles!!!!!

    Twickenham, England

  5. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Well…not that I’m hoping someone does, but if someone scraps the car out, I REALLY want the air cleaner assembly and adapter unit to the SU’s, and the cast guide for the crank in the front!

    • Kenny Smith

      I think anybody who is a genuine car person would rather it be saved or salvaged for parts than being “plate-raped” – the Standard Motor Club will have more than a passing interest in this Ad!

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Agreed, Kenny, I hope it’s saved!

  6. Grant

    The Standard Sportsman ( Triumph Renown (replacement?) as it was called until weeks before production started- thus the Triumph badges!) came out in 1956 and was produced for only a few years.
    The engine was that of the TR2/3- 4 cylinder wet liner 2L.
    Not popular when it came out since it was neither a Standard or a TRIUMPH really, and was not particularly sporting either which was disappointing, but since most American barges were pretty much the same…..quick in a straight line, but useless around bends, it was thought that it may be more popular in the US as a “compact”.
    Since it had a cold reception from the start, it was never really actively marketed while work was in progress on the much better TRIUMPH 2000 which WAS both a real TRIUMPH with speed and handling. The standard marque was also slowly phased out after the Sportsman and VIGNALE Vanguard 2000 (test bed for the new TRIUMPH 2L engine) simply because the STANDARD name or meaning became associated with standards of specification ie standard, delux or GT instead of standards of quality which was what the original name implied.
    Pretty much the same thing happened when the MG MAGNETTE mkIII came out at the same time… Austin/ Morris……not a true MG and not very sporting to boot… however sold pretty well (to a different clientele) as a better looking and better equiped alternative to the Austin or Morris…..30 000 odd units as apposed to the 901 for the Sportsman!!!! Both cars even looked very similar!!! Go figure!!!!

  7. Kem Jones

    It’s nice to see that there is a Sportman still around however quite a restoration project .As a youth I helped one of neighbors in Ottawa Ont. purchase a used Sportsman . I wonder where that car has gone? At that time my parents were drinng a 1959 Vanguard sedan as a family car Right now I am in the process of restoring a 1949 Triumph 2000 roadster and a 1950 Vanguard . I live near Toronto Ont.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Good luck with the restorations, Kem — let us know how they progress!

  8. Charles

    Since there were only 901 of them made, it will be a shame if it is scrapped.

  9. sir mike

    the old number plate is likely worth more than the car…

  10. Kem Jones

    Hi, Speaking of old Britiish Plates ,I have a set that came off a 50’s V.W. when the car came to Canada. I was planning to use them on one of my restorations .Plate R G U 6 . Any value to these plates?.Thanks Kem

    • Kenny Smith

      Hi Kem – RGU 6 is apparently no longer listed with the DVLA

      (You need the correct vehicle manufacturer of the vehicle the plate is currently registered to check it against on the DVLA’s system, but if the plate has been transferred to another unknown make of vehicle, it becomes a lottery! – It can be checked in another sneaky way on another website if the vehicle is still currently taxed which I can’t discuss on a public forum!)

      But the number plates themselves may be of interest to collectors, (Ebay is your friendly price guide!) and original display plates are always popular with judges at car shows!

  11. Andrew S Mace Member

    If only I had some “seed money”…buy this, get it restored in the UK and sell off what surely is a very valuable number plate…but only because I’d be bringing it here then to the US! :) Surely there is a story behind “GS 4”; obviously once a cherished plate!

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Andy, it would look good next to your Heralds and Standards!

    • Colin

      hi im form the UK and I have seen that number plate on another car when I did some work for guy and still see it driven around my area today.

  12. jim s

    i love “run what you came in” and stock class autocrossing. glad to see you having fun driving the car. as for the spitfire,watching the rear wheels reminds me of the reason i autocrossed a midget instead. as for this car i do hope it gets saved but if not i am sure the parts will be in great demand. great find

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Hi, Jim — yes, we have fun with the car. Getting a cheer when I chirped the tires was a highlight that year. As you’ll see from this picture, I do try to go quickly :-) I admit, however, that my face turned a little pale when I saw the tire roll (this is after adding air to the tires…).

      A very good friend of mine owns the Spitfire — that’s a daily driver! Yes, people still do that…

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Whoops! Picture didn’t load…operator error :-)

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Better this time…

  13. Mark E

    Being a fan of Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy, I’d love to get a Ford Prefect. My second choice of odd Brit cars would be a Lloyd Alexander. I’d drive the latter to a car show with the Chronicles of Prydain on the back ledge! ^_^

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Mark…I believe a Lloyd Alexander is German, isn’t it? Weren’t they part of Borgward? But I’d love a Prefect, too!

  14. Charles

    If you are going to autocross that car on a regular basis, I would consider fabricating some sway bars for it. That’s some serious body roll!

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Charles, I just do it for fun at British car events, I have other cars that I’m more serious about competing with. Interestingly enough, the car has a factory front anti roll bar…of sorts. Mounting is unlike any other I’ve ever seen!

  15. Charles

    Jamie, I understand. Cool looking little car!

  16. bruce R. Colbert

    Got them ’53 Ford taillights.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Bruce, that’s what most people mistake it for, especially from the rear, but they complain it’s too small!

  17. cliffyc

    Another Anglophile here chaps. Love the site get on it daily!. Toodle-pip!.

  18. Bert Bennett

    I stumbled upon your video of autocrossing the Vanguard Sportsman. It looks wonderful. I rescued this car from obscurity and abandonment and did the restoration probably about 15 years ago (I would have to look). The car was sold by Dorothy Deen of the famous Los Angeles Triumph distributor Cal Sales from the floor of the New York Auto Show where literally no orders for the car were taken, and no dealer requests were made. The buyer was the husband of her long time secretary. I spoke to him when he was in his 90’s here in Los Angeles, and he was delightful and still had a great love for the car. Surprisingly, it had been laid up at a rather ineffective shop for brake work in the late 1970’s and sat for 20 years deteriorating but remaining virtually complete. It actually required two trips to the UK for some parts and a visit to the Heritage motor center to get the upholstery right. When I searched for the correct red and gray for the paint the specialist said he could not find a color from a car that matched Standards “Silverstone” Gray, but he said he found a color from a 1950’s Ferguson Tractor that looked identical. I burst out laughing knowing they were built virtually side by side and said “Thats It!” Dorothy Deen was a guest at the San Diego Triumphest show the year I first showed the car, and she remembered it and was quite thrilled to see it as was noted historian Graham Robson who allowed as how everything survives in L.A. Enjoy the car. Hope its holding up well. I worked my a#* off on it. Robert M. “Bert” Bennett, Orange County, CA. Huge fan and daily reader of Barn Finds.

    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Hi, Bert!!! I will be sending you an email! How cool!!!!

  19. Darrell

    Would love to know commission number etc of Annabelle if possible please

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