The History of Triumph 1883-2010

Started by a German. Typical.


Great post - really interesting

Probably the most important date for Triumph is missing from the list:

1964 - the year Edward Turner retired

Probably best captured, in the end, by Alex Scobie, who used to be Meriden’s chief tester.
When BSA (who had owned Triumph since 1951) were proposing to produce Craig Vetter’s Hurricane:
“It’s a bloody death trap!” said Alex, which he demonstrated by riding past the factory at 100mph while in a lock to lock tank slapper…BSA had already self destructed both themselves and Triumph.

It wasn’t the Honda 750 that killed Triumph (Tridents, Rocket 3s and fastback Nortons pissed all over the crappy 750 Hondas when they got here) it was BSA who had blood on their hands. So there :slightly_smiling_face:

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Maybe we should write our own collective history of Triumph. :smile: Or maybe you should write a book!

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Absolutely spotonski, @Iron.

It’s so easy to point to the better known ‘failures’ (the strike; the workers’ co-operative; bad management decisions on product lines etc., et al.) as the root cause of the eventual failure of the company/ies and the underlying opportunity for the subsequent domination of the industry by Japanese manufacturers. However, contemperaneously, their quality was, for the most part, vastly inferior to Triumph’s but production techniques and capacities not only compensated but quickly overcame the quality gap and … well, the rest is - as they say - history.

It’s fortunate that someone had the great, good foresight to keep the name and product alive to enable the ‘continuous production’ epithet to remain valid to this day.


Edward Turner insisted that a bike coming off the production line would, not should, would cover 20,000 trouble free miles. He maintained that people are happy to wait for a quality product.
When Turner left BSA turned that around. They insisted on larger quantities and instituted same product, different badge. (BSA had held up the Trident for years so they could have their Rocket 3 with slightly different angle to the barrels and covers.)
The large majority of bike sales were to the US, I think about 75% of the 700 bikes made every week went across the pond.
At that time, in the States, the Triumph dealers hated the BSA dealers and vise versa. There were a lot of dealers in the US.
BSA wanted the dealers to merge - dealers were told that they would be selling both marques.
The US Triumph dealers jacked. Yep, they quit. That’s how much they hated BSA.
BSA set up a new R&D in Umberslade, most of the boffins were from the aircraft industry. The set up ate all of any profit. The guys at the Triumph factory gave up trying to educate the supposed brainy ones so just ignored everything the boffins came up with - remember the issue with the washers in the rocker boxes, we still argue about it :smile:
The whole thing went down the pan and ended with Norton Villiers taking everything over to become NVT. Dennis Poore assett stripped Triumph and said he was going to close Meriden down so the Triumph workforce locked him out.
The cooperative was born, the new directors were from the shop floor.
They were producing 300 bikes per week. When they left the factory, they were crated up, 60 bikes into a container. It took one container to pay the wages, one container to pay for the materials for the next 300 bikes, one to pay for the heating, electrics, tools. The last two containers were to pay the debt owed to the government.
That’s what couldn’t face the new Jap onslaught, the poor buggers didn’t have a chance.

That’s why I’ll always have a mid 70s Bonnie, even when I can’t kick the bloody thing over any more. I’ll hang it on the wall and look at it.