Category Archives: Triumph

Che bella macchina!

Multo sportivo

Molto sportivo

It’s just a matter of time before  Fiat is going to start selling a new sports car here and they’ll badge it 124 Spider.  Like the Fiat 500 before it, the 124 Spider takes its name from one of the big successes in Fiat history and its greatest, ahem, triumph in the U.S. market.  Fiat’s original 124 Spider was built from 1966 to – 1979 and essentially the same car was sold as 2000 Spider from 1979 to 1982.  Thereafter, through the 1985 model year it was re-branded Pininfarina Spider Azzura though it was Fiat in every other way.

Bosco means "woods" in Italian

Bosco means “woods” in Italian

The forthcoming 124 Spider will be the first car to be sold by Fiat in the U.S. since the marque’s relaunch through Chrysler that is not a “500.” The latter day expanded Cinquecento  line now includes the 500L, 500e, 500X, 500 Abarth, 500 Cabrio and and we’re not even going to reference that oh-so-tasteful Gucci edition.

Tom Traajera for Pininfarina

Tom Traarda for Pininfarina

The new 124 Spider will be built in Hiroshima by Mazda, not in Turin by Pininfarina as was the case earlier for its earlier namesake.  The fact is that the next generation Mazda MX5, which we’ll always going to call “Miata” no matter what they tell us, is a car that will share quite a bit with the new 124 Spider.  The Mazda alliance was initially going to yield a clone Miata to be sold as an Alfa Romeo but Fiat Chrysler has moved Alfa into a more rarefied segment so the new roadster becomes a Fiat and will, in truth use a Fiat motor, not a Mazda mill.

Who bit the canole?

Who bit the canole?

The original 124 Spider had Pininfarina’s haunchy, hiked-up-in-the-hind-quarters, look that was also an element of the earlier Alfa Romeo Giulietta  as well numerous Farina designs for Ferrari. Modern day examples are not all that difficult to find as there are numerous survivors in regular service around the country. “Fix it again Tony” jokes notwithstanding,  these were very popular over here:  of the 200,000 original Spiders produced over car’s production run 150,00 were sold in the U.S.  That was a big slice of the sports car market pizza for Fiat when MG, Triumph, Sunbeam and Datsun were all vying for some extra cheese with their respective offerings.

Big bumpered beauty

Big bumpered beauty

We especially like the wonderful yellow one that’s gone topless in Palm Springs.  It’s an early, pre-federal bumper mandate example that has a proper, almost British sports car like, wood veneer dash.

Venetian Spider

Venetian Spider

The black one with the gash in the trunk lid was spotted in Memphis by Feral Cars Field Scout Emma Less.  Even with the oversize bumpers, it has a certain rough appeal like Anthony Quinn in La Strada.

Nice rack!

Nice rack!

The beige one was parked on the mean streets of Venice.  No aftermarket flotation device was necessary as we’re talking about Venice, California not that other Venice that’s been trying to copy it since who knows when.  Farina’s badge reflects not only the firm’s design,  credited to Tom Traarda, the American who was also responsible for DeTomaso’s Pantera, but also that Pininfarina was the actual manufacturer, building Spiders on behalf of client Fiat and, later, on its own.

Farina is good for you

Farina is good for you — unless you’re gluten intolerant

"Solo benzina senza piombo"

“Solo benzina senza piombo”

In its time, Fiat’s 124 Spider was something of a value proposition.  You got a serious fun, high revving, twin cam-powered roadster from the land of exotic cars, designed and coach built by a revered carrozzeria, a five-speed transmission for a very competitive price. MSRP was under $4000 for the first seven years of the model run.  Fiat would do well to offer the new 124 Spider at a fair price to build the kind of momentum enjoyed by its earlier namesake which, need we remind, was actually built in Italy.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.06.45 PM

 

We found a very nice ’81 Spider with only 71,000 miles in nearby Sherwood, WI for under $9,000. The car’s equipped with a roll bar so you’ll be completely safe. What’sa matta you not buyin’ this?

We like this great 124 Spider commercial from the car’s inception that emphasizes such features as the horn and lighter.   Hey, no disrespect!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

Will of the Triumph

TRiffic!

TRiffic!

Americans post-war love affair with British sports cars opened the door to the idea of imported cars in general and nothing’s been the same since.  The very first name that springs to mind in this regard is MG but Triumph was also a very significant player in this small field.  Its TR3 was a direct competitor to the MG-A and the later TR4 was the firm’s answer to the MG-B.

We encountered a much later TR, this one a TR6, on the mean streets of Palo Alto, CA a few months ago.  Owner Mike Cobb revealed that the car was purchased new in 1974 and he’s been driving it ever since. He’s put 80,000 miles on its odometer that is nestled in a very traditional wood-clad dashboard.

Wood is good

Wood is good

Production of TR6s ceased just two years later as the British auto industry continued its downward spiral towards near-extinction.  As with predecessor TRs, the car’s primary export market was the US.  Did we say “primary export?” Make that just “primary.” Period. We were shocked to read that, of the total of almost 95,000 TR6s produced, more than 86,000 were exported, most to these shores. A paltry 8,400 were sold in the UK.

Union jacks comes standard

Union Jack: ON!

Style-wise, the TR6 was something of an update of the TR4 that had been designed by Giovanni Michelotti who had penned all manner cars for Ferrari, Maserati, Lancia and — though the gang in Munich is loath to admit it — the iconic BMW 1600/2002.  The transformation to TR6  was undertaken by Karmann, as in Karmann-Ghia. That’s right, the look of an iconic British sports car that actually wears a Union Jack on its rear flanks is, in no small measure, the product of Italian and German minds.

"We shall fight them on the beaches.."

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds.. and in the streets…”

Speaking of the Axis Powers, let’s not forget the Battle of Britain, won in the skies by the RAF’s heroic Spitfires in mortal combat with the Luftwaffe’s Messerchmitts.  That valiant fighter plane lent its name to Triumph’s smaller sport cars, a competitor to MG’s Midget and Austin-Healey’s Sprite. We encountered a ’65 Spitfire Mk 2 in our local supermarket parking lot the other evening and we were impressed by the car’s “as is” condition.  Clearly, this very original roadster has never been restored. In fact, that babied Palo Alto TR6’s little brother seems to have been trashed to some extent.

Bonnet popper

Bonnet popper

Our supermarket Spitfire was sporting a newish soft top, but the rest of the car seemed to not have been messed with all that much over the past 50 years and that’s really not a criticism.  We think it’s a vehicular manifestation of that stiff upper lip ethos which we most heartily applaud.

Black plate special

Black plate special

We dug deep into the massive Feral Cars image bank and found another TR6 which —  taking a wild guess here — seems to have been painted a non-factory stock color.

Purple passion

Purple passion

Lastly, we found this “missing link” between the TR4 and TR6, logically called TR5. It was captured in Philadelphia a while back and happened to be parked just outside a conclave of the Society of Automotive Historians, giving those scholars lots to consider and discuss.  These were sold in the US as TR250 but this example, despite the decorative UK number plate and badged TR5, seems to be a US market car (left hand drive, side markers in compliance with federal regulations) and is equipped with a “Surrey Top,” Triumph’s answer to Porche’s Targa.

Can you surrey?

Can you Surrey?

We found this very presentable and very, very red ’74 TR6 in nearby Beverly, MA for a mere $9300.  In terms of today’s rate of exchange that’s only £6070!  See those rubber bumper extensions on Mike Cobb’s lovely blue TR6 at the top of this post? They were Federally mandated from mid-’74 forward and this US-market TV commercial made tongue-in-cheek reference to them.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

British idles

Humans are actual size

Humans are actual size

We offer an original Mini Cooper here, bookended by Amy and Scott who, we freely admit, are tall individuals but do provide some human scale as testimony as to just how tiny these are.  They were built in mass numbers from 1959 until 2001 by British Motor Corporation, formed by a merger between Austin and Morris.  The original Mini was just voted Britain’s Best Car of All Time by the readers of Autocar. So take that, Aston-Martin, Armstrong-Siddeley and other hyphenates (Rolls-Royce?) too numerous to mention! Today’s version is built by BMW, which insists that the brand be formatted as MINI.  Isn’t the use of all upper case letters tantamount to shouting? Pipe down!  It’s huge by comparison.  The original weighs in at something like 1400 pounds and the new, ALL CAPS, edition weighs more than twice that amount.

All ears

All ears

FeralCars Field Scout Heather Crist captured this Mini variant, a 1969 Riley Elf, just the other day.  It’s a more deluxe version with an extended trunk and luxury interior and never, officially, imported (note: steering wheel on the “wrong” side).  We don’t think the Union Jack painted on the roof came standard but, hey, who are we to suggest not letting one’s freak flag fly?

We encountered a stunning ’65 3.8 litre Jaguar Mk 2, the other day and were, frankly, enthralled.  The interior replicates the leather and wood look of a mens club and the curvy body lives up to its feline moniker.

Jagadelic

Jagadelic

Mark of the beast/Nice kitty!

Nice kitty but we’ll NEVER pronounce it “Jag-You-Wahr”

Today the British motor industry is essentially, foreign owned.  Of course there’s Ford and GM’s Vauxhall, which are American controlled and Jaguar and Land Rover which are, most improbably, part of Tata of India. Stifle those titters, will you please?  MINI is under BMW control; Rolls Royce, too,  is a vassal of BMW while Bentley is Volkswagen’s English trophy marque.  Lotus is owned by a Malaysian conglomerate and Aston Martin is funded by a consortium of Italian, American and Kuwaiti investors and headed by Stuttgart-educated CEO Ulrich Bez who just made a deal with Mercedes’ AMG division to provide engines for these “British” supercars.  It’s kind of sad that the only British-owned car makers today are niche players Bristol, Morgan, Caterham and McLaren.

 

B all you can be

B all you can be

MG was once had significant presence in the US market and is now, for better or worse,  a Chinese brand. There are still lots of MG B roadsters in various states of repair to be found as these recent shots attest.

Sometimes it B like that

Sometimes it B like that

Triumph was MG’s big competitor in the US sports car market.  Not sure if they actually offered them in fuchsia as seen on this “tasteful” TR-6

Union jack on

Union jack: on

In the 1950s and ’60s, and into the ’70s British cars were a real presence in the American market but faded out, almost completely when such brands such as Hillman (that’s one below) Humber, Austin, Morris, MG, bit the dust. To be sure, there’s a resurgence going on with current sales successes enjoyed by MINI, Rolls, Bentley, Land Rover, Jaguar but, again, all of those brands are foreign owned.  Dare we say it? The sun may very well have set on the British automotive empire.

Over the hill, man

Over the hill, man

We found a film clip shot at the 1961 Earls Court car, ahem, motor show and there’s actually a Riley Elf featured!  You simply must check it out!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.