Virtue From Necessity (Part One)

The 1959 Triumph Herald was an innovative and pragmatic solution to a difficult problem. It was also surprisingly accomplished and deservedly successful. DTW tells its story.

1960 Triumph Herald Saloon (c)

In the latter half of the 1950s, the Standard-Triumph motor company was facing a potentially existential problem. The mainstay of its model range, the Standard Eight and Ten saloons, were ageing and in need of replacement. However, Fisher and Ludlow, the company’s body fabricators, had been taken over by BMC in 1953 and was under orders from BMC Chairman Leonard Lord to terminate the relationship with Standard-Triumph once existing contracts expired.

Even if Lord had not decided to try and throttle a competitor in this manner, a situation whereby Standard-Triumph would be, de-facto, handing its future model plans to BMC would surely have been untenable. Standard-Triumph searched for another supplier without success. Pressed Steel, the only other company large enough to handle the expected scale and volume of the work, already had a full order book.

Fortunately, Harry Webster, the company’s talented chief engineer, evolved a pragmatic and workable solution to the problem: instead of a monocoque body structure for the new model, it would instead be built on an ‘X-frame’ backbone chassis with outriggers, onto which could be bolted separate inner and outer body panels. Production of these separate panels could be outsourced to smaller fabrication companies which would not have had the capacity to produce a monocoque. Moreover, the use of a traditional chassis would simplify the development of a range of variants, including estate, coupé, convertible and van models.

Italian carrozzeria Michelotti* was commissioned to design the new model, which was codenamed Zobo. Michelotti produced a pleasant and contemporary design for a two-door saloon with fashionable razor edge styling and a large and airy DLO. The style was readily adaptable to estate, van, coupé and convertible versions. One distinctive feature of the design was a large forward-hinging bonnet that incorporated the front outer and inner wings and gave excellent access to the engine and ancillaries.

The 948cc inline four-cylinder OHV engine and four-speed gearbox were carried over from the Standard Ten. Front suspension was by double wishbones and coil springs while at the rear was an unusual independent arrangement comprising a transverse leaf spring and swing axles. One notable advantage of the car’s unusual construction was an exceptionally tight turning circle, just 25½ ft. (7.77m) between kerbs, although this was accompanied by a lot of tyre scrub.

The new car was christened Herald and it was decided to retire the Standard marque with its launch. In future, all the company’s models would carry the Triumph name. The Herald was launched in April 1959 in saloon and coupé versions. The latter was nominally a two-seater with additional luggage space behind the seats, but a folding jump seat suitable for children was available as an option. The convertible would follow a year later.

(c) storm.oldcarmanualproject

Motor Sport magazine tested the coupé in July 1959 and was positively gushing about Triumph’s new car, which was summarised as follows: “…splendid road-holding and cornering, an ideal driving position, fantastic manoeuvrability and an 80mph maximum [are] outstanding features of this brilliant new Coventry-built small car.”

Apart from rather noisy (but “unusually good”) suspension, the tester’s criticisms were of a minor order, citing a large central bonnet opening handle that looked like it came from an item of kitchen furniture and the rather “continental” tone of the horn(!) The magazine concluded that the saloon and coupé “…were likely to break all previous sales records for the courageous British concern that has introduced them.”

Sadly, Motor Sport’s sales predictions were wide of the mark. Although the Herald was well received, early sales were hampered by the relatively high prices of £702 for the saloon and £730 for the coupé. Standard-Triumph was struggling financially and in December 1960 was taken over by Leyland Motors, a successful manufacturer of commercial vehicles. The new owners provided the capital for further development of the Herald, which was relaunched in April 1961 as the Herald 1200 with an enlarged engine and cosmetic improvements.

These included a wood-veneered dashboard with glovebox, single rather than duo-colour upholstery and black rather than grey steering wheel, column shroud and stalks. The new model was recognisable from outside by its rubber bumper coverings, previously only fitted to export models, and the deletion of the rather ungainly large central bonnet lifting handle.

Autocar magazine tested the revised model at launch. The magazine had been highly complimentary about the original version two years earlier, describing it as a …delightful little car to drive and ride in, modern in appearance in design”. The only significant criticism at that time was of a less than wholly satisfactory fit and finish of what had been an early production model. Two years later, the quality of the paintwork and general fit and finish was noticeably improved, which Autocar ascribed to the opening of a new state-of-the-art assembly hall at the Canley works.

1967 Triumph Herald Convertible Advertisement (c)

Thicker front seats with greater curvature in the backrest and a longer cushion were more comfortable than before, although they did reduce legroom by about an inch (25mm). The driving position was described as excellent and the walnut-veneered dashboard was thought pleasant and attractive. Instrumentation, which was limited to a large speedometer with inset fuel gauge, was easily readable, although the former was unduly optimistic, indicating 70mph at a true 63mph. Minor switchgear was logically arranged and identifiable by position.

Even though it was barely run-in, the 1,147cc 39bhp engine was a sprightly performer and more flexible with stronger torque than the earlier 948cc 34.5bhp unit. The 0 to 60mph (97km/h) time was 21.8 seconds and maximum speed was 74 mph (119km/h).

Autocar’s description of the Herald’s unusual suspension configuration is intriguing: it was described as having oversteer correction built into its rear suspension layout by virtue of the inclined rear pivot line”. This technical description was probably lost on many readers, but it translated into a car that can be cornered fast with a minimum of roll”.

At the limit, there was a positive, but easily controlled change to oversteer [as] the back begins to slide”. This tendency was more marked in wet conditions or if the tyre pressures fell below recommended levels. There was no hint of concern or alarm on the part of the testers but, somewhat disturbingly, they advised that, when travelling two-up, it was preferable to place luggage in the rear seat of the car rather than in the boot.

The estate version of the Herald was launched just a month after the revised saloon. A van version called the Courier was launched in 1962. This was little more than an estate with no rear seat and metal panels in place of its rear side windows. Because of its limited capacity, it sold poorly and was produced for only two years, although CKD kits continued to be exported for local assembly for a further year. A higher performance model, the Herald 12/50 saloon, with an uprated 51bhp engine was introduced to sell alongside the 1200 in 1963. The coupé was discontinued in 1964.

Triumph Herald Mk2 Estate (c)

In October 1967, the Herald was given its only significant facelift. It received an angry frown bonnet similar to the larger-engined Vitesse model, albeit with a single rather than twin-headlamp front end. The engine was enlarged to 1,296cc and produced 61bhp, hence the new suffix, 13/60. The 13/60 was offered in saloon, estate and convertible variants.

The Herald continued in production unchanged until December 1970 for the saloon and May 1971 for the estate and convertible. About 511,000 cars were sold over its twelve-year production life. The car also enjoyed a parallel life in India as the Standard Gazel, where it was produced in unique variations, including a four-door saloon.

The Herald’s separate chassis provided the ideal basis for a number of kit-cars and, most notably, the German built Amphicar, an amphibious vehicle. The car also spawned other Triumph models; the larger-engined Vitesse and the Spitfire and GT6 sportscars. In Part Two, we will take a look at those derivatives.

* Michelotti’s mark, an italicised letter ‘M’, is to be found on the chromed bonnet catches behind each front wheel arch.

Author: Daniel O'Callaghan

Shut-line obsessive...Hates rudeness, loves biscuits.

77 thoughts on “Virtue From Necessity (Part One)”

  1. My second-ever car was a ‘D’ reg Herald 1200 identical to the red one in your picture, except it was white. Such fond memories. It was comfortable, stylish (in my view), adequately quick around town, and extremely easy to maintain thanks to its unparalleled mechanical access. And of course the party trick : the turning circle 🙂 Sadly, rust ate away the chassis outriggers, and I ended up swapping it with a friend, for a motorbike – which I promptly crashed and wrote off. Ah, to be 20 years old again.. Thanks for the feature Daniel!

  2. Poor old Triumph and poor old Coventry. In another version of reality, Coventry has a huge car plant at Ryton where Triumphs would be built in large numbers. Birmingham airport would throng with visiting engineers and downtown Coventry would hum with different accents of the many visitors to the local car industry whilst alumni of CSAD would staff Triumph´s design studio. A talented chap called Gerry McGovern would head up Triumph-LandRover design. In the same universe we´d be reading a little footnote about a company called Rover who disappeared in 1981.

  3. Good morning Daniel and thank you for this insight into a car which at its introduction swam against the tide of accepted wisdom. The concept of separate chassis was so old-fashioned (probably why it appealed to the likes of WB at Motor Sport) and yet the car looked so up-to-date.

    I have had many over the years, starting with early Heralds and including many (but not all) of the later variants and developments of that original (unfortunately rust-prone; Ric’s experience is typical) chassis. It was a popular driving-school car in its early years, notably with BSM (British School of Motoring) and if you were to sit in the driving seat of my current Vitesse you would immediately see why: such clear all-round vision, all four corners of the body in plain sight, no blind spots whatsoever. Current vehicle design ensures that such basic safety principles are no longer possible to achieve.

    I feel sure that you are going to enlighten us the more contentious aspects of the car(s) in due course and look forward to that, but to return to Ric’s rusty outrigger: replacements were cheaply available and easily welded in place – one of the reasons why the survival rate is high.

    1. Good morning John. Thank you for your kind words and yes, rest assured that we’ll be exploring the perils of positive camber in Part Two!

  4. Good morning Ric and Richard. Yes, the Herald and its derivatives were remarkably good, especially given the constraints on their development. It is interesting to imagine how Triumph might have fared had it not been sucked into the maelstrom that was British Leyland. The Dolomite and 2000 might well have evolved into Britain’s 3 and 5 Series.

    1. That is what I think, the roots of the small performance saloon and medium performance saloon are in the Dolomite and 2000. They even have a clearly evolvable design heritage (it´s ironic or poetic that Michelotti had a hand in BMW design too). Rover, on the other hand, didn´t. It´s design themes were quite inconsistent. There isn´t really a Rover that you could call archetypal. Take a look at a Dolomite: it looks very convincing today, as much as Giulia or 2002 from the same era.

    2. Here are some interesting sales figures from 1977 – courtesy of AutoCropley. 1977 is believed to be the year that BL fell into a spiral from which it was impossible to be extracted. It was also the year that (Sir) Michael Edwardes was appointed.

      That year, Jaguar sold 24,100 cars, Rover 25,600 and Land Rover 55,000. Both Rover and Triumph’s numbers for 1977 are eyebrow-raising to say the least (if for different reasons). In Triumph’s case, over 66,700 cars were sold, breaking down as 26,000 Dolomites, 17,700 Spitfires and 23,000 TR7s.

      Obviously this says nothing about how profitable these cars were or how viable the factories that produced them at the time. Furthermore, the vast majority of Triumph’s volume would have been exported to the US, where the bulk of Spitfires and TR7s were sold. By 1980, this market, for a variety of reasons had largely dried up, and certainly by then, it was virtually impossible to sell Triumphs in the US at anything but a loss. (The Spitfire had also been discontinued by then).

      Nevertheless, the sales of Dolomites versus those of Rovers reflects not only upon the appeal of the Triumph compact saloon concept (despite its age), but also upon the abject failure of the over-ambitious SD-1 programme. I think I will swerve the arguments in favour of one brand over another, but looking at things from that perspective, one could reasonably suggest that the wrong car programme was actioned – the Triumph sized saloon probably being the better and more versatile approach in retrospect.

      But done is done. Bells cannot be unrung.

    3. I agree, Eóin.

      At the time, Triumph’s broad appeal probably counted against it. At the lower end, it competed with Austin-Morris, its sports cars overlapped with MG and it rivalled Rover, etc, at the top end.

      Add to that troublesome factories, old model ranges and PI fuel injection / Stag / TR7 worries and it must have made sense to focus on other brands.

      I also wonder if ‘sporty’ had slightly different connotations at the time – meaning more specialised / compromised / highly strung / high maintenance, whereas today it’s much more mainstream. My view at the time was that the Dolomite Sprint was a real enthusiast’s choice, in the way that a Golf GTI wasn’t – that just looked nice and was nippy.

  5. I bought an early Herald 1200 in the 60’s, so it had the white rubber bumpers but also the big bonnet handle – which I loved and made frequent use of. The rear suspension, BTW was not ‘semi’ independent.
    I remember the car came on cross-ply tyres, and on the recommended 19psi front pressures the tyres would howl if you even looked at a corner. Naturally I eventually changed to radials on wider wheels. When the clutch started to die at 50K I took the opportunity to fit a Mk2 Spitfire engine rather than modify the early 1200 unit. Even in the early days, you could buy GRP replacements for the rocker panels, which you had to remove anyway to clear caked road-dirt from the chassis.
    When I saw rust in the rear window surround I bought the 12/50 roof with the opening section. I had to get a few friends to sit on the roof to get the ‘B’pillars to fit back together. Front disc brakes from a Vitesse, and an SAH rear spring kept things under control.
    I had ideas of buying a late-model Vitesse with ‘double-wishbone’ style rear end and putting a 2.5 PI engine in it, but then a Mk2 Jaguar caught my eye….

    1. That is a car as a work in progress. Heralds were common enough in Ireland until the 80s. They just about reached my consciousness, to the extent I remember noticing them along with a very few other cars.
      If the suspension was not semi-independent, what was it?

    2. Surely ‘semi-independent’ is like ‘fully comprehensive’. Just as there are no degrees of ‘comprehensive-ness’ , a suspension that doesn’t feature a live axle or dead-beam axle must be independent.

    3. How about “cotton rich” shirts that are less than pure cotton? And for nonsense hype “another all-new episode of” and also “100% fragrance free”.

    4. c.f:
      “Almost unique”
      “Qualified engineer” (or any other profession)
      “PIN number”
      “My autobiography”
      “I was, like, (anything)”

      And other such tautological, oxymoronic and plain stupid expressions. (I fully realise I’m setting myself up for a fall here!)

  6. Know Standard-Triumph relied on Fisher and Ludlow for the supply of bodies before the latter was taken over by BMC and almost suffering a similar fate to Jowett. While understanding the larger carmakers seeking to acquire most of the body suppliers / coachbuilders in the UK, what am finding difficultly grasping would be if it was possible for the bottleneck caused by the apparent scarcity of available body suppliers / coachbuilders to have been remedied?

    What challenges would have been needed to be overcome for there to have been more body suppliers / coachbuilders available in the UK from the interwar to post-war periods, whether by existing small-scale suppliers / coachbuilders at the time rising to the challenge (instead of remaining small in scale) or new suppliers / coach builders being established?

    Had it been possible what would the consequences been had the Herald been given a monocoque body structure in driving as well as other aspects and how would it have impacted its ability to produce models like the Spitfire or effected the likes of Bond Cars and others that readily made use of the Herald’s separate chassis (or other mechanicals) to produce their own models?

    Find it interesting the Indian built Standard Herald was available with 4-door saloon and 5-door estate bodystyles, even though Triumph themselves were said to have considered the idea (and could have further broadened the Herald’s appeal) before later going on to initiate Project Ajax.

    1. That´s a good question: interest rates and banking policy were my first port of call. Alas for that theory, interest rates were low in the 1960s. Perhaps when people looked into supplying steel pressing services they saw that the industry was consolidating and it would be hard to compete with the in-house steel pressing units? One could have entered the market as a “last man standing” but the risk of ending up like the rest of the dead companies would have been off-putting. Steel pressing is a volume business as I understand it and perhaps a firm that had 250000 bodies divided over three clients would find it hard compared to a firm supplying 250000 bodies to one client. Ultimately it must have been the number of units per pressing that decided if it was worth investing in this. If the number of units per pressing was too low even selling a lot of units overall would not help.

    2. To make Pressed Steel stronger and open a new factory in Coventry instead of Linwood, Roots, Triumph and Jaguar will be replaced

  7. Regarding the independence or otherwise of the suspension, I thought the transverse leaf spring connecting the rear swing axles justified the ‘semi-‘ prefix, but happy to alter the text if you tell me otherwise.

    1. Having just had a look at that set-up it´s rather wonderful. The leaf spring goes from side to side and is connected to the swing axle by means of some tube thingies.
      Perhaps suspension is either independent or not independent? It looks to me like the Herald´s is not independent because the inputs on on side affect the other side. Any amount of influence from one part to another means it is not independent. It is a binary condition?

    2. The HA Viva and contemporary Opel Kadett featured a tranverse front leaf spring, within the bottom wishbones, that was clamped in two places rather than in the middle. In roll, it was bent into a shallow ‘S’ shape, thus acting like an anti-roll bar. The last model Spitfire had a curiously shaped tranverse spring that could pivot around the mounting on the differential, acting as the opposite of an anti-roll bar. The spring on the Herald was clamped rigidly to the diff, so that both ends acted independently – just like two quarter elliptic springs.
      It was common in the 50s for racing cars like the F1 Cooper to use one or even two tranverse leaf springs in their independent suspension.

  8. By that same logic, as soon as an anti roll bar is added to any type of independent suspension design, does it cease to be fully independent ?

  9. Richard, I remember as a boy being on Team Rover in the Rover 2000 vs Triumph 2000 early days. I don’t know why, because in hindsight you’re absolutely right : from a design perspective Triumph was way ahead. More consistent design language, which aged much better too. Late P6 models were fussy and horrible, whereas I’d argue that the Triumph 2.5PI was actually a better looking car than its predecessors. It improved with age. A rare thing 🙂

  10. “….by means of some tube thingies.” The spring ends connect to the swing axles by means of vertical links. The tube thingies are radius arms, which connect the lower end of the vertical link to the nearest chassis outrigger. When, due to corrosion of the latter, the radius arm parts company with it, progress becomes somewhat crab-like and is liable to upset any officer of the law who happens to be in the vicinity. It does not necessarily prevent one from coaxing the vehicle home….

    1. I think I understand most of that. The radius arm has two main bits, right? There´s a part connect to near the centre line; and there´s a second bit (the tube thingy) which connects to the outboard end of the set-up. The two radius arms look like an outstetched M, as I see it. It´s a bit bulky, isn´t it? I mean vertically. I´d want to have the suspension futher outboard and down lower.
      I was looking at this image:

  11. ‘Continental note to the horn’…

    I await the article on the ethno-nationalism of car horns with interest

    1. Hi Justin. Having not heard it, I can only assume it was somehow offensive to delicate English sensibilities. Perhaps it made a farting or belching noise? If it was anything to do with the French, then sex was undoubtedly involved. 😁

      Perhaps the former Herald owners might be able to enlighten us?

  12. Hi, for what it’s worth the road test reports of the day all called the rear suspension, independent. Also I remember reading that shortly after the Herald went into production one of the mass market body constructors freed up space and offered to build the body as unitary construction. Standard Triumph considered this but rejected the idea on cost grounds. On a further point I think it’s a shame that the four door was not sold here. I know two door saloons and three door estates where common then but I still think a market for such a car would have existed.

    1. Hi Simon. The Indian Standard Gazel four-door was an interesting looking Herald derivative:

      The rear end puts me in mind of something else, but I can’t recall exactly what at the moment.

    2. Good call, Charles, but my subconscious was attempting to unearth something rather more rarefied, the Facel Vega II:

      It’s the slope of the tail combined with the upright features at either end that look like they should accommodate vertical taillights (like the Herald’s) but are unadorned.

    1. As author of the piece, I need to remain (semi) independent…😁

  13. I think any system which allows significant individual movement of a single wheel is probably independently suspended by definition. I’ve never heard of semi independent suspension. Mercedes and VW used a similar system to the Herald or that should probably read the Herald used a similar system to …

    1. So: anything less than full interconnection is independent. The opposite is not “dependent” but “live axle”.

      Rather than mess around looking for degrees of dependence we should use the term “live axle” versus “independent suspension” and we also then avoid the “semi-independent” concept.

      Now: with just two terms available, I think the Herald is not a live axle but independent suspension.

      I´m not saying this is how it is, this is a proposal to reach a shared understanding of the Herald´s rear setup.

      Long live Triumph!

    1. I’m glad you’ve got that sorted – I was in the middle of explaining why the image link RH had found was confusing and leading his understanding astray, when the internet went down. Now it’s back I can see that I don’t have to bother….. unless of course Daniel is about to throw a semi-independent spanner in the woks……

  14. Triumph called it ‘independent’ (at 4.52). Well, it sounds better.

    Just to muddy the issue, I’ve always considered otherwise independent (coil) suspension which is linked by a large anti-roll bar as semi-independent (as on some VWG vehicles). The manufacturer referred to it as a ‘torsion bar’ system for a long time, which is one thing I’d say it wasn’t.

    Coventry’s doing all right, these days, I’m pleased to say. It’s become a hub for advanced technology, including electric vehicles.

    I loved the detail re the ‘M’ on the bonnet catches, by the way.

    1. Woks? Works…. I’m retiring with a small glass in front of the fire.

    2. That´s good to hear about Coventry, the town without a river. Despite it all, I rather like Coventry and the citizens are salt of the earth.

    3. Hello Richard – yes – a covered-over river. The river Sherbourne goes right through the middle of Coventry, but it was hidden in the 1960s. High Wycombe, which I know well, suffered similarly. High Wycombe also got its own Coventry-style tribute flyover.

      There are / were plans in both cases to open the rivers up again.

    4. I had no idea about the Sherbourne. Aarhus river was covered and uncovered. They did the last bit about ten years ago.
      I will google the Sherbourne. One really misses the river in the town.

  15. By my reckoning the entire Triumph range had all-round independent suspension from the introduction of the TR5 in August 1967 until the arrival of the live-axled Toledo and dead-axled 1500 in 1970.

    Even before that, the 1965 TR4A was mostly sold in IRS form, although a live axle was available in the USA.

    1. Fair enough, the majority view seems to be for IRS, so I’ll amend the text accordingly.

      Incidentally, I notice that Wikipedia describes it as follows: “…offered “limited” independent springing”!

    2. Limited is a word I get antsy about when I see it in print. Everything is ultimately limited. The Irish Times once wrote about a small car having “limited” use relating somehow to it being meant for short trips. In truth you could drive the car from Norway to Spain if you wanted. Not limited at all, not in any meaningful sense.
      Also, watch out for the word “arguably” because you can always put in the word “not” in the same sentence.

    3. Well, let’s not rely on Wikipedia for in-depth analysis. If you know your stuff on a specific issue or thing, it’s easy to find errors all over the place within its sometimes haughtily written pages, guarded by jealous authors keen to repel invaders.

      The Herald’s rear suspension as first issued was as independent as you can get. There was no connection from one wheel to the wheel on the other side by even an anti-roll bar. The leaf spring was bolted by its middle to the differential, and thus as others have said, acted as a quarter elliptic spring for each wheel. What happened to one wheel did not affect the other due to the action of suspension components and fittings alone. Full stop. Period. That’s independent.

      There was of course an interaction caused by the fact that the suspension was bolted to a car. So one wheel absorbing a bump through movement affected the car, and thus affected all the other wheels because they had suspensions connected to the car as well, and the car overall moved as it reacted to a one wheel bump. As do all vehicles.

      The specific design of the Herald was by guess and by golly, I’d think. The trailing arm (rod thingie) to the rear wheel hub was anchored to the frame in a “that looks about right” place. Contrast it to the 1960 Corvair rear swing axle where pains were obviously taken to get working arcs correct using a proper triangulated swing arm on each side, and the amateur nature of the Herald is evident. Trouble is, swing axles are rubbish no matter what you do, so only one example exists that really works, the Mercedes low pivot version. If Daimler Benz had spent the same time and money designing a proper double jointed axle IRS as the Mark 10 Jag and E-type enjoyed by the late 1950s, I’d have been more impressed with them. Instead they chose to lavish resources on polishing the proverbial er, dog dropping, for reasons beyond anyone’s ken. As anyone knows who has been stuck, say, on a crossword clue, a fresh pair of eyes can often see through the haze. But Mercedes chose to remain blinkered for several decades.

  16. I’m glad you lot have sorted out the Herald’s suspension.
    the Herald kingpin became modestly famous, ubiquitous
    almost, for its usage in all sorts of racing cars – including
    grand prix cars – through the 60s and beyond.
    my first experience of being a passenger in a car driven at
    lurid speeds was in a Herald convertible. I was 17, my workmate
    was 18, his ability to keep the car sideways was very impressive.
    his need for speed was such that when he about 40, circa 1986,
    he started a factory in Queensland to build his idea of a sports car.
    it was the Giocottalo, fresh Alfa Sprint shells were fitted with 5 litre
    Holden V8s midships, ZF transaxles, all the best brakes, upholstery
    etc etc, no Herald kingpins as far as I know. about fifteen were built.
    I’m sure Paul is out there somewhere, pedal to the metal still.

    1. Surely a 5.0 litre engine in a small shell like the Sprint would be too heavy. Okay, so it´s in the middle. Still, something about this strikes me as overkill. …. And then I went to look at the actual car. It works. It´s almost like a baby Ferrari. The designer matched the carryover to the new parts rather well.

  17. Richard

    They drive very well. Some have had a lot more power added since they were new. Not overkill. It all works. Paul Halsted has high standards and surrounds himself with real talent.

    Take a look at the bulkhead between the mid mounted engine and the passenger cabin in his car. It was a serious challenge to get that right. The weight could have ballooned out of control right there. A conventional approach would also have compromised the passenger space and the driving position. Likely the wheelbase would have needed to be much longer (to the detriment of the car). This was all solved by clever use of composite materials. We take this sort of thing for granted now, but at the time it was right on the cutting edge of technology for road cars. Now if you examine the TWR Jaguars with their V12 engines you’ll see how complex the shape for their rear bulkhead had to be. The use of composites for the tub, including that bulkhead, allowed the long V12 to be exploited successfully. The major weakness of the TWR chassis turned out to be that magnesium bell-housing. If only it had been in aluminium or… Anyway, Tony Southgate and WR had a similar problem to Paul Halsted. They solved it in the same way with the same class of material.

    Paul Halsted was no stranger to exotic and fast road cars or race cars. He set up a business selling and modifying such. It was known as the Toy Shop. He also became the sole supplier of 351 Cleveland engines to De Tomaso for its Pantera after Ford in the US stopped manufacturing them.

    His next car has a self-built W16 with big torque and mighty power. He is doing it for the satisfaction of the design, development and build. Looks like he’ll only do the one example this time around.

  18. OK Richard

    Challenge accepted!

    Re Herald suspension

    The Herald started out with a swing axle suspension. Drawbacks for this suspension type include large camber change with suspension travel and a relatively high geometric roll-centre. A consequence of the high geometric roll-centre is that under certain circumstances there are pro-jacking forces present at the rear of the car of sufficient magnitude to raise the car up, putting both wheels into droop and generating excessive positive camber. Depending on the specifics of the suspension linkage arrangements there may also be large values of toe change generated as well. The results are loss of grip, oversteer, inability to resist roll moment and possibly vehicle roll over. It can all happen quite suddenly.



    One of the strategies developed to minimise the jacking up of the rear was directed towards prevent both sides of the suspension from going into droop at the same time. Various mechanisms were created to achieve this. In the USA the Z-bar was commonly used to cure the propensity of the VW Beetle rear suspension for jacking up. The Z-bar did not resist in one wheel bump, nor did it resist roll at all (no roll stiffness). It resisted both sides moving in the same direction though. Hence two wheel bump and two wheel droop was opposed. Whenever both wheels were moved together in the same direction the Z-bar was put in torsion, which it would resist (its centre section was a torsion bar and so it operated analogously to an anti-roll bar when twisted). The more the wheels moved in the same direction the more the z-bar would be twisted and so the more it would resist (just as the more an anti-roll bar is twisted the more it resists further twisting). Kieft came up with a brilliant approach to addressing the problem. Simple and effective. Praised by none other than Sir Stirling Moss. Well worth carefully looking at and studying those Kieft cars. Later on Mercedes took a very thorough approach complete with extra spring and revised “low pivot point” geometry. All to get rid of the dreaded jacking effect!

    For the Herald it was realised that anti-two-wheel droop could be achieved most economically. Since the springing was by a transverse leaf spring running above the top of the differential unit all that was needed was to secure the leaf spring to the top of the differential at a single point. That is, the leaf spring needed to be attached to the top of the differential unit with a pivot or horizontal slider of some sort. It needed to be free to articulate. The result of this cleverness was that in one wheel bump the leaf spring would operate in the normal manner, although there may be some pivoting or sliding in its newly revised mount. In roll the spring could pivot (or slide) as much as needed and although there would be some deformation of the spring, it would not be anywhere as much as the case where the spring was mounted in a fixed clamp. Most of the roll resistance then would be as the consequence of the suspension geometry (high roll-centre remember). This meant that more of the Herald’s roll moment generated in cornering could be resisted at the front suspension, making the car less prone to oversteer. The big advantage was that the spring could be made relatively stiff without wrecking ride, grip or handling. That, in turn, gave it the ability to seriously resist or even eliminate two wheel droop altogether. Hence the notorious jacking effect along with its two-wheel positive camber was side stepped. Clever and economic.

    Of course the best solution came later when they emulated a double wishbone rear suspension by using the leaf spring as the top link and fixed half-shafts as lower links. This gave them much improved camber control.

    Re Independent, semi-independent and non-independent suspensions

    This starts out obvious, gets a little harder and then come vexations. Good times!

    The standard understanding is that an independent suspension allows one rear wheel to move without affecting the wheel opposite. Further, it is assumed that the only components which are to measurably deform elastically are the springs, anti-roll bar (or z-bar) and, to a limited extent, the bushes. Suspension links are to be considered rigid bodies (although there are certain exceptions allowed for various reasons, such as Ford’s control blade or where a transverse leaf spring itself forms a suspension link such that it is undertaking two jobs- location and springing).

    Semi-independent suspension have one or more of the suspension links deform. In the well known torsion beam system the beam itself is allowed to twist in one wheel bump or in roll. In two wheel bump the beam is not deformed. This allows some degree of independence in what would otherwise be a dead axle constrained such that it would be rigid in one wheel bump or roll (that is, it would not move relative to the sprung mass at all for one wheel bump or for roll). The point to notice is that in this case a primary suspension member is designed to deform and not always act as a rigid member.

    Non-independent suspensions are where both wheels do not act independently of each other. The best known examples are beam axles such as live axle and dead axle (including de Dion) types. What is generally not understood is that it is possible to build double wishbone suspension systems which are non-independent. See if you can think of an example…..

    Now here is the vexing part. If you define an independent suspension as one wherein one wheel hitting a bump does not result in disturbance or camber change at the wheel opposite, then there are none to be found!

    Re jacking forces

    These are present in all sorts of suspension. You encounter them even with double wishbones. They can be pro-jacking or anti-jacking. A lot depends where the roll-centre is designed to reside or move to (in general, higher tends to reduce body roll and increase pro-jacking forces overall).

    The fiendishly clever Tony Southgate deliberately set the rear suspension geometry to generate appreciable pro-jacking forces in the V12 powered TWR Jaguar Gp C racers, more than most designers would have deigned to accept. More than defying convention, he bucked received wisdom! Can you divine his reasoning for doing as he did?

    It worked by the way.

    Suspension design is an interesting art. There are aesthetics and sensibilities involved just as in styling. Sometimes they are every bit as contested.

    1. For the record, Triumph never used fixed length driveshafts as lower links – they put those rubber doughnut things (rotoflex ? ) in the drive shaft and made a “U” shaped lower wishbone to clear it.

  19. On the non-independent double-wishbone systems – I recall reading of one where the inbound upper links were mounted on the rear differential. Would that qualify? Presumably the diff would be subject to lateral and/or rotational forces which would be transferred from side to side. The problem is that I cannot remember where it was installed – possibly Jaguar…

  20. Here’s a bit of (non-suspension related) Herald fun: one of my fellow DTW authors suggested that the Herald’s 1967 Vitesse-style front end facelift was a worthwhile improvement, but the tail of the car was still saddled with the by then very dated looking fins. We discussed how it might be usefully updated at low cost, and here is an original, followed by my proposal:

    The peaks on the fins have been removed and higher-mounted vertical light clusters similar to the Austin A40, BMC 1100 etc. have been fitted. I’ve also removed the tall chrome overriders and replaced the rubber bumpers with smooth chrome items. On the sides, I’ve removed the front quarter-lights, painted the B-pillar black and reprofiled the C-pillar so that it no longer gets narrower towards its base. To match the new rear end, I’ve removed (most of) the peak from the trailing edge of the roof. Finally, I’ve deleted the bodyside crease that ran below the door handle and put the fuel filler behind a flap*.

    * Stalwart DTW reader and commenter, JTC, who is knowledgeable about all things Herald-related and was very helpful in writing this piece, pointed out that the flap is too low for the fuel tank mounted vertically in the wing behind but, for appearances sake, I can live with only being able to half-fill it!

    1. Hi Richard. That C-pillar was pinched from the Herald estate, which was my starting point:

    2. Daniel, I blush – and I had forgotten that there was a fuel tank unique to the van/estate variant which would be able to accept a filler positioned at a lower level; your wish is therefore vindicated. The Minilites were (still are) a popular period addition, as were wires, though I think yours are one size too large in diameter.
      I rather like your revision – and it manages to retain the sharp Italian suit character which played a considerable part in the Herald’s success in its day.

    3. Hi JTC. Good news about the fuel tank. Regarding the Minilites, didn’t I mention that I decided to ruin the ride as part of my ‘improvements’? 😁

  21. A couple more tweaks to complete the update, black paint on the sills and rubber inserts on the bumpers:

    1. Certainly an improvement in reducing if not completely eliminating the rear tail fins.

  22. I’d never noticed before, but there’s quite a similarity between the Herald and Toledo’s side profile:

    The bodyside creases, trailing edge of the roof are surely more than coincidental?

    1. It´s a good looking small saloon. The little lip over the rear screen is superb. Michelotti, of course.

  23. The Herald’s fins were something of an embarrassment even by the early-mid ’60s. Their publicity material of the time rarely shows back end views of the saloons or convertibles.

    In this example, the photographer has engaged the services of a cow to hide the unfashionable features:

    It’s a pity that the Vitesse / Herald 13/60 front end changes could not have been mirrored at the other end of the car.

    The new bonnet, which rid the car of the dated ‘torpedo tube’ wings and headlights arrangement was a masterly facelift – we should expect no less from Michelotti.

    How would he have dealt with the back end, had he been given the opportunity?

  24. Takes out crude instruments…

    The first is possibly rather too literal, although something similar worked for the later Pininfarina Flavia coupe.

    The second is plainer, but ends up possibly more Hofmeister than Michelotti:

    1. These remind me of a nice, simple sketch for the XJ-S. You can go a long way with a few pencil lines. It´s quite hard to redesign cars from so long ago. I don´t know where to start other than to doubt a few curves. It´s the same with vernacular architecture – how do you crit something so unselfconscious? Both these drawings look like they were done in 1960 (that´s a compliment) . I prefer the second one (slightly).

    2. Those sketches are brilliant, Robertas. I wish I could draw, instead of just fiddling around on the computer. I really like the first one for its front-rear symmetry with the facelifted Herald. The second one is both Michelotti and Hofmeister:

  25. The family resemblance with BMWs of the same era is uncanny – and ironic, given that BMW currently own the Triumph name. Heaven forbid that they ever revive the brand. And Daniel, have you noticed how that side profile was still evident in the Acclaim?

    1. I see what you mean regarding feature lines, but unless Honda was raiding Triumph’s back catalogue for inspiration, I guess that has to be a coincidence!

      Joking aside, when I first saw an Acclaim, it immediately put me in mind of the Dolomite for some reason that’s hard to rationalise.

    2. It´s hard to see anything specific in the Acclaim. Like the Tagora and certain late 70s/80s Chryslers, the shape is as near to generic as one can get. It´s very specific in that its identity is tied closely to those exact lines and details. A more characterful car like a CX is still a CX even if one changes elements of it. It´s not exactly easy to do a car as bland as an Acclaim; one recognises it only by deduction. It lacks every other car´s identifying features so it must be an Acclaim.

    3. Hello JTC,

      Yes – the BMW 700 is similar, which was launched around the same time, and even came in saloon, coupé and convertible body styles. Dafs of the same period also bear a resemblance.


    4. It looks like my attempt at uploading via Imgur hasn’t worked.

    5. That’s sort of worked. Not sure if that’s quite right, though.

  26. Hi Charles – I was thinking, when looking at Robertas’ drawings, more of the 1600/2002 rear end. Off at a tangent, that 700 is delightful. BMW used to make such pretty cars…..

    1. Robertas’ renders are marvellous. Bravo. But JTC, surely you’re not forgetting, the 700 was mostly Michelotti’s work.

    2. And Michelotti was a consultant to BMW in the design of Hofmeister’s Neue Klasse saloons.

    3. And dear heavens, couldn’t they do with some Italian design inspiration now?

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