Red River Triumph Club

Interesting Triumph Based Racers

And Other Strange Vehicles Made from a Triumph

by Paul Higley
July, 2011

Since early on in Triumph history, the engine and the rest of the drive train in the Triumphs have had a reputation of being durable. Before WWII Triumph produced some fine cars but also sold the rolling chassis with drive train for bodies to be built by others. This was particularly true for cars going to Australia. Post-war efforts with the Vanguard and the Spitfire engines also proved durable. Some production cars used Triumph engines as in the 1950s and 1960s Morgan and the 1964-67 German Amphicar. A number of kit cars were available for Triumph conversions. Individuals also used TR3, TR4, Herald and Spitfire chassis as the basis for one-off cars and racers. Still others have tried building the cars Triumph should have built. Ray Josey is doing this with his Spit 6 project using a GT6 engine in a Spitfire body. I have found several other Triumph powered cars in poking around that look interesting. Period racers are getting to be quite the thing in Europe and to some extent here. The lure seems to be to build up, from all period parts, a racer that might have been build in the period you have chosen. Some of the incentive in Europe is the result of the very high cost of real period racers, particularly in early pre-war cars. The build up from parts of a period racer may take a bit more effort but offers the opportunity to own one without all the expense.

Earlier this year I visited Pete Giles in England. For several years he had been storing a spare Southern Cross transmission for me. In touring his barns of cars I found he has taken up making period racers in a big way. He has built several 1930s based racers and prefers US built drive trains as “they as so much more durable.” He looks for a US built drive train and then builds a racer body. He was just finishing a mid-thirties Buick racer when I visited. Triumphs have much more interest for me so I began to look around to see what others have done with Triumph drive trains.

I should stress that I very much prefer to keep all Triumphs original. However, the Triumph drive train often survives where the body may have passed due to rust or “creative body reshaping by impact.” In this case I suppose a kit car or built up car could be acceptable. There are good TR based cars and some not so good ones. Morgan is a fine example of a good production use of a Triumph drive train. Some of the examples below are surely not in the Morgan category. So here for your viewing enjoyment, are a few of the Triumph based examples I found.

In the Pre-War period, Triumph sold quite a few sets of running gear to Australia for custom bodies and the results were spectacular.

A Special with Triumph 14/60 engine power

A beautiful 1938 Gloria Vitesse Racer


Australian Bodied 1936 Gloria (for sale at the time of this writing!)

Another Triumph Racer from 1936




Some post-war cars that did not quite reach the same…..finesse. For Spitfire, GT6 and Herald based cars.

To the left…
The most block shaped award to a “Burlington Arrow” or perhaps, “If Triumph was built by John Deere?”

To the right…
How about Bug shaped Triumph Herald?


“Spartan” kit cars
(right and left)

Looks like the designer was trying to make the English term for fenders,
“Wings” functional as wings!


Or to the left, a Spartan front end married to a mini body with a Triumph GT6 drive train

And the right, a lot more appealing, a Herald based JC Midge kit car


To the left…
Spitfire based with a strong Pre-War influence

To the right…
for TR3 and TR4 based cars how about a very nice TR3 based 1957 Triumph Devin Racer


To the left, for those that like a  dragster, how about a TR4 Dragster

Or to the right, more classic pre-war sports car lines on a TR4 powered beauty


To the left, a Herald based “Acorn”

Or to the right, how about the most wood in a Triumph?



Looks good from the side and neat from the stern but…

What happened to the front?
No word on the wood but it looks to be Mahogany.  In this “Spitfire,” the “fire” part could be a problem. Maybe all that wood might look better and be more useful floating an Amphicar


Which brings up the rear engine Spitfire powered Amphicar with Twin Drive Shafts!

The Amphicar was a German produced
amphibious car from the 1960‘s which used a Spitfire engine for both driving down the road and turning the propellers when in the water.


There are many donor car bodies made useless by collision or rust. These “naked cars” without useable bodies might make a great TR based racer project. I hope some of the above examples might guide the efforts of anyone interested in designing your own body for a Triumph set of running gear, or at least provide a few examples of what not to do. Enjoy!