The Carchive: The Triumph Dolomite 1300

The table is all laid out, the plates are piping hot and there’s a hostess trolley full of goodness on its way from the kitchen. But what’s it full of? Well, we’re digging right down from the choice cuts on the surface, through the fat and bone until we reach the gristle and cartilage before it gets left at the side of your plate.
At last weeks banquet we dined richly on the 1980 Mercury Cougar, but today’s dish is rather more lean and less ostentatiously garnished. It’s the 1976 Triumph Dolomite 1300. Welcome back to The Carchive.

Click on the pics to bask in the unadulterated glory of British Leyland at its very, very, most Triumphant

“Dolomite luxury and style with Toledo economy – these are the major ingredients of the latest addition to Triumph’s new range of small sporting family saloons”
The story of the Triumph Dolomite is a long and very twisty turny one, with more peaks and troughs than the mountains of the same name. It pretty much started in 1965 with the Triumph 1300, a front-wheel drive saloon car that replaced the historic Triumph Herald. This soon evolved via the 1500, switching to rear-drive for the 1500TC, while the 1500 was replaced by the Toledo in 1970. The 1500TC, meanwhile, begat the Dolomite, which was pitched as a small ‘executive’ car to compete with the BMW 2002 and Saab 99, reaching their zenith with the Dolomite Sprint, with its 16 valve engine.
By 1975, the Dolomite’s structure had been in production for a decade, but in two forms – the junior Toledo had a somewhat truncated trunk. So, by way of lineup rationalisation, it was done away with and a 1300cc version of the long-bodied Dolomite was introduced instead! The axe finally fell on the Dolomite in 1980, when the Honda Ballade based Triumph Acclaim took its place, heralding (do you see what I did there?) a new era of British Leyland / Honda co-operation.
But was it any good? Well, the answer was actually ‘kind of’.

“The standard of finish, comfort and equipment of the Triumph Dolomite 1300 makes it an important to the new Dolomite range, and a worthy bearer of the Triumph name”
The Dolomite 1300 was positioned slightly awkwardly in that it could only really be marketed economically against rivals from the next size above, which meant Ford Escort size and power for Ford Cortina money. But the Triumph name still had the credibility to achieve that, and the actual car was really pretty sound. The biggest problem it faced is that it really had become horrifically dated by the late seventies.
While the 1850 and Sprint had the saving grace of performance, the 58bhp 1300 was entirely reliant on ‘craftsmanship and tradition’, which rather restricted its appeal compared to the rather thinking European and Japanese cars that were flooding in. And that ‘craftsmanship’, it turned out, couldn’t be wholly relied upon, either.
And, I’m afraid, that’s just about it. The Dolomite 1300 brochure is one of the very slimmest volumes in the whole Carchive. It’s insubstantial and lacks vision, but what’s there is quite appealing. A bit like the car.
(All images are of original marketing material, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of, I assume, BMW. I actually reckon Triumph would be one of the more promising British brand names that Germany could bring back to life, but it’s wise that none of us hold our breath)

By |2017-11-17T15:12:30+00:00November 17th, 2017|Cars You Should Know, The Carchive|23 Comments

About the Author:

RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.