Easy project: 1961 Triumph Herald

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While it didn’t possess the sort of performance that was guaranteed to get your heart racing, the 948cc engined Triumph Herald was a nice little car, and the chassis developed for the car later saw service as the base for both the Triumph Spitfire and Triumph GT6. This 1961 model hails from the final year of production of the 948cc cars, and it is in quite solid condition. Barn Finder Ikey H spotted this little Triumph for us, so thank you so much for that Ikey. The car is missing its title, but the owner is willing to provide the buyer with a New Hampshire Registration, and a Bill of Sale. This little British classic is located in Salem, Massachusetts, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist.

The paintwork on the Triumph is a bit ordinary (at best) and is not original. There is overspray in a number of places that suggest that the person performing the job either didn’t have access to masking tape, or they performed the job while blindfolded. Actually, the Triumph is remarkably solid. The chassis has a liberal coating of surface corrosion, but it does look really solid. There are a few minor rust holes in the floors, but these look like they would be really easy to patch, and wouldn’t require wholesale floor replacement. One of the great things about the Herald is the fact that they are one of the easiest cars on the planet to completely dismantle, so stripping the car down to have it media-blasted is straightforward. This would give the new owner a really clean base to work from, and would definitely be worth the effort.

There is some really good news on the mechanical front with this Triumph. The 948cc engine runs, the 4-speed manual transmission works, and the owner has driven the car around their yard. The brakes don’t work, but the braking system on a Herald is pretty basic, with 4-wheel drum brakes, and no power assistance. The Herald was blessed with nice, direct rack and pinion steering, and independent rear suspension via a transverse leaf spring and a swing axle. The car could be nervous when driven near the limits, but tire and shock technology today are a great help in this area. The most often criticized area of the 948cc Herald was always a lack of power. With only 34.5hp on tap, the car takes 31 seconds to accelerate from 0-60mph and tops out at 71mph. There are a couple of potential options to help this. There was an option for twin SU carburetors available, and the later Heralds were fitted with an 1,147cc engine with the optional twin SUs that also helped. If you are not too worried about whether the car is 100% original, I have also seen these fitted with an aftermarket throttle-body fuel injection system. This makes the car much smoother and more reliable to drive and does provide a pretty decent increase in engine power.

The interior of a Herald is not a place of luxury, but these can be quite a comfortable little car. The passenger seat isn’t present, and I’m not sure whether the owner has it. The rest of the interior appears to be present, except for the carpet, but it will need a re-trim. I noticed that the Herald has been fitted with the optional temperature gauge, as the standard fare is a speedometer and a fuel gauge. The standard dash is made of pressed fiberboard, but a timber veneer dash, along with leather seat upholstery, were available as optional extras.

When it comes to considering British sports cars, the Triumph Herald probably isn’t high on most people’s wish lists, which is a shame. They are a sweet little car, and they can be made to perform relatively well and be reliable. As a restoration project car, this one is a car that could quite easily be restored in a home workshop. The owner has set a price of $1,500 for the Herald, which I think makes it a great potential project car.

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  1. Howard A. Howard AMember

    Not a lot of interest on the Herald. Too bad, they were good cars. My old man had one for a short time. Saw very few. Again, just the wrong timing. 20 years later, this would have been a hit, considering what came down the pike in the 80’s. 70 mph might be attainable, but more like wound out tight at 50. Fine for the alley’s of Europe, but not here.

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    That paint colour is commonly referred to as ‘British Hammerite Green’. :)

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  3. FordGuy1972 Fordguy1972Member

    These were nice little cars for the time and popular where I grew up. I’ve driven a few and while it was a major victory to get the tires to break loose, I remember them as being nice little cars. Introduced in 1959 and produced until 1971, they were available as a saloon(sedan), convertible, coupe, estate(wagon) or van.

    This Herald seems like a fun project that won’t break the bank. Cheap enough for sure.

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  4. Nick G

    The Vitesse, a Herald derivative, had a 1596 cc or 1998 cc 6 cyl. engine. It seems to me I saw a swap of the 1998 cc engine into a Herald in a Triumph magazine, years ago. I suspect it is the same engine as in the GT6, and would turn a Herald into something of a sleeper.

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  5. Andrew Minney

    I learned to drive in one of these AND passed my driving test in it!! That was back in the day when the testers looked to see if you could actually DRIVE a car and not just programme your b****y sat nav. People drove from A to B with the aid of maps!!!!!!

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  6. luke arnott

    I had one – good little car!My late mother had a coupe,then a Vitesse,and my late father had a 2 litre Vitesse convertible,which went very well for the time.

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  7. JagManBill

    I want a Herald. The price, while high without a title, isn’t without negotiation. But is in Mass……

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  8. ClassicCarFan

    The last few years were actually fitted with the 1296cc version of this engine family. Upgrading the engine and drivetrain with Spitfire parts is relatively easy, though it is good sense to upgrade brakes and suspension at the same time.

    as mentioned above, in theory you could fit the 6-cylinder motor in but it would need some work. The Vitesse/GT6 chassis is quite different in detail even though it is based on the same as the Herald. It would be a lot of work and you’d still have to think about safety mods for brakes and suspension (as per Spitfire caveat above) effectively trebling the horsepower. It would probably be simpler just avoid all the effort, and track down a good Vitesse to begin with.

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  9. Derek

    Any motor from a Dolomite’ll fit, too. 1500TC would be a good transplant.

    The handle in the middle of the bonnet’s a good idea!

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    • Tony, Australia.

      Derek, if you want a Herald hood handle I’ve got one in the shed, never could figure what to do with it but it was too good to throw away. My wife had one of these as her first car, no racer but got her to and from work for 4 or 5 years after we married. Working on the engine was a breeze, you sat on the front wheel.

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  10. Parker Oberman

    this car is a good deal. not many good deals left

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  11. stillrunners


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  12. lowbusman

    I had one for a few years in 1966-67! Nice car….did you know there are three bolts above the windshield and three bolts under the package tray, and a little hacksaw work on the B pillar, and you had your self a removable hardtop convertible!

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  13. moosie Craig M Bryda

    My kid sister had one for a while, hers was white , black interior, a really nice wooden dash. From what I recall it was pretty snappy , only problem with it was the bolts that fastened the swing axle to the rear end would back off every so often until I put some loctite on em. It was a neat little car.

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  14. Bryan W Cohn

    Major Want reporting for duty sir! Damn its a year or two too soon however, maybe 3 or 5 yrs even. One of these days when I’m finally ready to quit racing I’ll need a car project to keep my sanity and it’ll be something British because I grew up neck deep in H Production Bugeye’s, MkII Sprites and the like and who doesn’t want to relive their youth? Heck, my first car at age 14 was an worn out, discarded G Production Sprite MkII roller that turned out to have belonged to my Uncle Bill when he raced! Funny small world.

    One day, sooner than later……

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  15. Derek

    There was a cracker in Leith a few years ago; based on a Courier (the van variant), it had a Vitesse bonnet, a six of some sort and GT6 steel wheels. It was YELLOW!!

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  16. Coventrycat

    They don’t think of it because it’s NOT a British sports car. They are cool,though.

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  17. the one

    Slam it put in a 331 Hemi make it a street strip sleeper

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  18. James A. Mogey

    I had a convertible one back in the mid-70’s. I enjoyed it immensely, but had no clue as to rust issues until one day when my foot went through the floor (the rust neatly hidden beneath a new rubber floor mat). Still, it was great to have a good looking, very maneuverable and peppy little convertible.

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  19. LD71

    In January of 1969, two friends & I left ‘mini-mester at college in Tulsa in one of these, drove to LA and then up to San Francisco. Satiated a week in SF, then back to Tulsa. Amazing trip then , even more so when I think about it now
    That Herald never let us down, just kept driving!! Fun times!!!

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