Poor Man’s Rolls: 1951 Triumph Razoredge

Here’ s car you don’t often see, especially in the U.S. – a 1951 Triump “Razoredge” sedan, listed on craigslist for $2,500 in the San Francisco Bay area. These are interesting alternatives to Rolls Royce and Bentley models of the same era, and far more rare to see on the road. There’s also an excellent owner’s network. Find it here on craigslist where the seller claims an upcoming move prohibits taking the Triumph with him. 

The first photo is one of two that show the same car years ago, wearing the same California black plates. It would seem this car has been a project for the current owner for some time, and it has unfortunately deteriorated since being stored. The price reflects a fair amount of rust visible in the rear fenders, and likely other places less easily seen. The car does appear complete, however, with an intact interior and most of its exterior fittings still attached.

Taken from the excellent Triumph Razoredge Owners’ Club website: “In the late 1930s when the overall shape of cars was tending to be more rounded, and streamlining was in fashion, there was also a move in a very different direction, towards sharper edges or “razoredge” styling – by certain English coachbuilders.” That’s certainly the case, as the styling of this Triumph is quite angular – certainly nothing like the Chrysler Airflow that preceded it. Note the original black plates still attached at the rear.

I love these turn signals that flick out the B-pillar, much like the early VW Beetles – I wonder if the Triumph faithful also call them semaphores? Regardless of the rust, this would seem like a classic worth saving, especially given its likely interesting history of living in California for many years with the same owner. Those Polaroid snapshots of two young men tinkering with a British classic like the Razoredge warms the soul, and I hope this unusual right-hand drive Triumph finds similar passion with its next owner.


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  1. smallwhitecar

    they call them “trafficators”

    • Tony, Australia.

      Or ‘indicators’ if you prefer, as they indicate which light pole you’re gonna take out, er side street you’re gonna turn into. The problem with them is that you are usually looking at the back of the car in front of you not at the sides near the roof and they’re easy to miss, like the bicycle riders with their little flashing LED light on their helmet.

  2. Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

    It’s official name is Triumph Renown. The smaller version was called Triumph Mayflower.

  3. Derek

    An excellent restoration subject – (because it needs so much).

  4. David C

    All european cars with these type of electromagnet flip out turn signal indicators are known as semaphores or some call them trafficators.

    • Brakeservo

      But this Triumph is British, not European! A common mistake, I can’t count the times people have seen my RHD Cobra and said “Wow, European, huh?” I try not to laugh or be snide . . .

  5. Mark S. Member

    Rear fenders are savable as is the body but it will take a lot of work. A Hobbiest with good mechanical skills and welder/fabricator skills could take this on and build it up on a budget. I hope that is what happens with this very unique car.

  6. 86 Vette Convertible

    I once had a Triumph, but it sure didn’t look like that ;-)

  7. Madbrit

    Yes, they trafficators were known as semaphores. The Renown was a very fine car with the Mayflower, its baby brother (or sister). It used the 2000 cc engine used in other vehicles such as the later Roadster (earlier Roadsters used the 1800cc).

  8. jdjonesdr

    I used to belong to a Triumph Club in Puerto Rico. There were two of these in our club.
    One was a little rough around the edges; the other one was in excellent condition.
    Gotta wonder if they’re still around.

    • Roger Stone

      jdjonesdr, if you still have a contact number, or the name of that Triumph group in Puerto Rico, I’d love to have a go at tracing what happened to the Razoerdges! We still have an Owners’ Club in the UK, and we try to obtain records of as many of the cars as we can. If you can give me a lead, I’m at RogerSto@aol.com .

  9. sluggo

    be an interesting restomod.

  10. Vintageant

    Triumph were never comparable or an alternative to Rolls or Bentley! Alvis, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Lagonda and Rover were in the luxury car market for those with discerning tastes.

    • Will Owen Member

      Vintageant has it exactly right. Triumph cars were solidly middle-class, and the Roadster and Renown were designed to attract the sort of middle-middle person who wanted to look a bit less “middle” than he was. The smaller Mayflower was a very weird “razor-edge” exercise on the Standard Ten chassis, odd in photos and much odder in person, not really a smaller version of this at all. The closest rival in class terms to this might have been the MG and Riley saloons. This is a pretty car, and in my judgement deserves saving just for that. Much less overdone than the Roadster, and to my eyes much more attractive.

  11. John C Cargill

    Slow, but a real cool factor for cruises. That’s what the English drove then. By the way in the Brit magazines, they call those turn signals Trafficators.

    • Dean

      I had a 1949 Austin as a first car, on the farm, when I was 13. It was equipped with the “trafficators” and as they weren’t required to signal my intentions to the cows and gophers, I wired them to function at the same time. In the dark of night it looked like the car was flapping tiny wings in an effort to take off…

  12. Coventrycat

    If you play with any British car, you’re poor already.

  13. Loco Mikado

    Since these are traditional coach built bodies(sheet metal panels over a wood frame) you not only have rust to contend with but also rotted wood. Where there is rust there is bound to be rotted wood. Just know what you are getting into.

  14. michael roehrs

    not an alternative to a rolls or bentley. triumph renown did cost a fraction of any rolls or bentley. no comparison at all. totally different clientele.

  15. Rue d'Anger

    I’ve got a 1952 Renown. Great car. A bit slow, but that is part of the charm. Parts availability is very poor, but they are simple. TR3 engine parts work in most of the engine. An MG TD has the same brakes, although the Renown is about twice as heavy. You have to plan your braking well in advance…

    • Roger Stone

      Rue, this is a good-looking car! We have a club member who owns MXW 770, which is also still on the road. Whereabouts are you based?

      • Dan Perkins

        What happened to your customized green Triumph Renown?
        I’m interested in that car if it’s still available.
        Dan Perkins

  16. Van

    This would be a fun car. With the original drive train you just can’t be in a hurry to get anywhere. Has anyone thought about using a 3 cyl Triumph bike engine. More that twice the power and half the weight.

  17. Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

    Why would you want to fit a 2300cc Triumph Triple motorcycle engine into such a desirable and rare motor car when the original engine is in situ? Please, there are more than enough hot rods in America already without desecrating a true British classic, apart from it’s value dropping through the floor.

  18. Brian M Member

    The Mayflower was Standard-Triumph’s attempt to enter the small car market in the US, the name being chosen to appeal to the “colonists” as some in old blighty still refer to us. Too expensive, too small and too slow. Quite a few went to Canada as the tariffs were lower for trading within the empire. Locally we have a highly modified example with, I believe, a LS6 drive train. Nicely done, fast, but an abomination to purists. Very, very few of the larger Renowns here, or anywhere for that matter since snow removal in England is mostly salting and little plowing until you get pretty far north, and then they still salt.

    • Loco Mikado

      Trying to figure out how they got away with using the Mayflower name as Plymouth had been using it and images since the 20’s but not as a model. I guess that is why.

      • Roger Stone

        In those days car model names did overlap – there are other examples. Sir John Black however wanted the Mayflower to be the Triumph which would break into the American market – which shows how little market research was done in those early post-war days. If you think the Renown is slow, try driving a Mayflower.

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