History of the 1963 - 1969 Triumph 2000
No junior accountant or solicitor worth his Dunn & Co suit could have resisted the 4-door, rear-wheel-drive, 2-Litre Triump 2000 saloon. Styling was by Michelotti back in October 1963 – a cat that was so different from the outgoing Standard Vanguard Luxury Six. There was rack-and-pinion steering, front disc brakes, and all-round independent suspension with front Macpherson struts and semi trailing arms at the rear. The price on its launch in was £1094 2s 1d with overdrive as an extra.
Full production commenced in January 1964 with automatic transmission available from mid-1964 onwards. The 2000 was available as a rather attractive estate in the autumn of 1965 at a price of £250 more than the saloon. The range was given a mild facelift in October 1966, with leather upholstery, fresh vents and a clock being added to the equipment list, and the idiosyncratic black on white instruments were replaced by more conventional dials.
Two years later, Triumph unveiled the 2.5 P saloon, with a mildly detuned version of the TR5’s fuel injected engine. The PI cost £1,487 19s 9d and had 31% more torque than on the 2000 and a top speed of 110mph. It was disguised from its stablemate via black vinyl clad C-Pillars and hubcaps that were cunningly styled to resemble Ro-Style wheels and, from March 1969 onwards, the PI was also built as an estate car; albeit only to special order. As with the 2000, options included overdrive and automatic transmission.
The entire range was replaced by the Mk 2 models (nicknamed ‘Innsbruck’) in October 1969. The second generation big Triumphs having a longer nose, an elongated boot in the case of the saloons, a much improved dashboard, and an adjustable steering column. Upholstery choices were now vinyl or cloth, the rear track was widened to 4ft 10 inches to improve the handing, and PAS was now available as an extra on both the 2000 and the 2.5 PI. Prices in saloon form, were now £1,412 5s 10d and £1,595 1s 4d respectively.
A front anti-roll bar was fitted to the estate versions of the Triumph 2500 and 2.5 PI in mid-1970, and overdrive became standard on the PI in 1973. May of 1974 saw a further facelift, with all models having an increased ride height, a new radiator grille and better instruments. There was also a new model, the 2500TC which combined the PI’s engine with carburettors for greater reliability.
The fuel injected 2.5 litre estates ceased production at the end of 1974 and the saloon was dropped in early 1975. Its replacement as the flagship of the range was the 2500S in July of that year, which was essentially the 2500TC equipped with alloy wheels, a tachometer, front head restraints, a front anti-roll bar on the saloon version, and PAS – all for £3,342. The station wagon was now only available in ‘S’ form, and the 2000 was now known as the 2000TC; this was mere semantics as it had always been fitted with twin-carburettors. The engines of all models were upgraded with revised camshaft profiles and a bigger-bore exhaust system. Production of the 2000/2500 range ended in May 1977 and although British Leyland claimed the Rover 2300/2600 SD1 as their successor, many believed that the big Triumphs were never truly replaced as a four-door executive car.
The basic Triumph 2000 Mk 1 engine was based on the 1,998 cc Vanguard Six’s unit with a slightly higher compression ratio and twin Stromberg carburettors. The PI had a 2,498 cc plant with a Lucas mechanical fuel injection with SU carbs on the 2500TC and S. The overdrive option was Laycock-de-Normanville A-Type until 1972 and J-Type thereafter, and the automatic box was the familiar 3-speed Borg Warner Model 35 or Model 65.
All of the Triumphs are pleasantly refined cruising cars and some enthusiasts do say that the anti-roll bar on the 2500S saloon really does improve the road manners. The estate cars seem too elegant for heavy duty load carrying as even the luggage compartment had wood trim. The PI was known to suffer from fuel vaporisation largely due to the electric fuel pump being unable cope with high pressure loads and corrosion can prove to be a major headache across the range – specially on the post May 1974 models. Check the front wings, front footwells, sills, front outriggers, door bottoms and rear suspension pick-up points. Interior trim such as headlining can be hard to come by.
The Triumph 2000/2500 range altered the face of the British car market, severely denting the sales of ‘traditional’ luxury cars in the 1960s. And the S remains a prime example of how to end a long running and highly respected model on a high-note.
The Rover 2000 P6 was the obvious rival to the Triumph, the 2000TC being the nearest British competitor to the 2.5 PI Mk 1. The Jaguar 2.4 Mk II was another alternative and in terms of overseas cars there was Fiat’s underrated 2300 saloon. The Mk 2 models competed against the Ford Granada Mk 1 and the BMW 5-Series. As for the estates, the Vauxhall Victor FD and FE and the Ford Corsair were of a similar size but somehow lacked the Triumph’s appeal.