Triumph 1800/2000 Roadster
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4
A Desperate Britain
The flamboyance of the Triumph 1800 and 2000 Roadsters of 1947 was in stark contrast to the state of Britain at the time. Londoners had to queue up for coal rations and the country was enduring unrelieved austerity. Politicians were appealing for a return to the 'Dunkirk spirit'. Britain desperately needed money. Each of these cars, and every other British make, were produced first and foremost for sale overseas.
The number available to Britons was restricted by the Government. At the end of 1949, there were unfulfilled domestic orders for 500,000 to 750,000 new cars. A cartoon of 1950 showed a husband saying to his wife as a car pulls up outside their house, 'Good heavens! I'd forgotten we'd ordered a car six years ago.'
Don't Think You've Been Forgotten
'Don't think you've been forgotten,' Austin Cars advertised. 'We are looking forward as eagerly as you to the day when we shall be allowed to supply you, and meantime we crave your indulgence and commend your patience.' Their patience paid off. In those few years, Britain became the largest exporter of motor vehicles in the world - and Australia was its biggest customer, buying 64,000 vehicles in 1949 compared to 25,000 in Canada and 5000 in the USA.
The Triumph appealed to the single young. Its pre-war dickie-seat might have once been nick-named the 'mother-in-law seat', but few in-laws would have sat in the Triumph's. The 1800 was for going to dances and to the pictures. The stars of Bill Collins' Golden Years were at their peak - Humphrey Bogart in 'Key Largo', Elizabeth Taylor in 'Little Women', and Bing Crosby and Bob Hope were in their fifth Road' movie - 'Road to Rio'. Crosby's crooning, Frank Sinatra, the Andrew Sisters and 'Hit Parades' were available at the click of a switch to those motorists who could afford the luxury of a car radio - with valves - as was the quick-witted Jack Davey and the irreverent Roy Rene. For those for whom the 'hits' had no appeal, the popular Australian baritone, Peter Dawson, returned to Australia to tour in 1949, singing old favourites like 'On the Road to Mandalay' and 'The Sergeant Major's on Parade.'
The Triumph 1800 Roadster
First unveiled in 1946 the Triumph 1800 Roadster was created from a strange cocktail of pre-war styling with classic 50's detailing. The new model shared its mechanical items with the 1800 saloon including a column shift gearchange. The 1800 Roadster body consisted of rounded front wings which swept into the 30's style lines, large separate headlamps, a traditional radiator
shell and a three seater driver / front passenger compartment, complete with triple windscreen wipers.
The most distinctive feature was the rear boot (trunk) which contained two small occasional seats. The boot lid consisted of two panels, one of which folded up to form a small windscreen for the rear passengers. The 1800 Roadster was not a great sales success and probably owes much of its collectors status to the British TV detective series, Bergerac. The main character of the TV show could be seen driving a burgundy Roadster around the channel island of Jersey.