TRIUMPH 1300/1500 REVIEW

Good examples of these FWD saloons are getting hard to find - so buy one now...

Intended to bang a nail in the coffin of the long-running Herald and at the same time take on the popularity of the Austin 1100, Triumph obviously had high hopes when it launched its 1300 in 1965.

While it didn't actually achieve the sales that the company had in mind, Triumph's first front-wheel drive car did play a major role in the development of the Toledo, Sprint and Dolomites and introduced a well-proportioned saloon that has proved to be a very popular everyday classic.

Initially the 1300FWD used the same 1296cc engine from the Herald 13/60 it was supposed to be replacing. The unit was positioned above the gearbox in a front/back configuration that placed some ocnstraints on the car's design. However, stylist Michelotti produced a gret body style, following on from the look of the 2000, with a central airtake on the bonnet plus the subtle roofline terminating with a lip above the rear window.

In 1967 a twin-carburretor version appeared with the sportier 1300TC model, providing a further 14bhp and fitted with a brake servo to help control the extra power.

Significant revision came in 1970 with the introduction of the 1500FWD that saw the look of the car changed with twin headlamps and a seven-inch growth spurt.

VITAL STATISTICS

Engine: 1296cc/4-cyl/OHV

Power: 61hp@5000rpm

Torque: 73lb ft@3000rpm

Maximum speed: 85mph

0-60mph: 19.0sec

Fuel consumption: 29-33mpg

Transmission: FWD, four-spd manual

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

The rot pack

Be sure to check the front inner wing behind the suspension turret, as well as the usual rot spots - boot floor, chassis rails, door bottoms, front panels, jacking points, sills and wheelarches. Reproduction panels appear on websites occasionally but front panels and valances are becoming very hard to obtain.

Get your motor running

To get the best from Triumph's three bearing crank engine, make sure the oil is fresh and quality oil filters are used. The starter is unique to the 1300, as the starter ring is on the crank pulley - it rotates anti-clockwise. While in theory not suitable for unleaded fuel, some owners use unleaded and knock the timing back a couple of degrees.

Working on the inside

The FWD gearbox can suffer from weak second gear synchro but parts are availale and it can be rebuilt without removing the box from the car. The input shaft is another potentially weak spot. Canley Classics stocks an upgraded shaft and gear combination. If the clutch needs changing, it can be done from inside the car.

Interior items

The 1300FWD's trim is unique, but it is durable. It also has a different dashboard, carpets, door handles, locks anf even window winders. Headlinings tend to be glue-stained from the factory while rear seat uprights are prone to fading. Be careful with the instrument binnacle - a plastic moulding - which can crack when refitted. Water/damp in the footwells is a tell-tale sign of leaks from the windscreen.

Radiator/Cooling system/heater

There are two types of radiator - early cars have a single top hose while the later ones feature a double set up. Hoses are available from specialists ot the TDC.

Exhaust stock

New old-stock mild steel systems appear from time to time, while the TDC can supply a stainless system.

OUR VERDICT

Both the 1300FWD and 1500FWD cars offer great value for money with a satisfying mix of luxury and practicality. They are good-looking cars, fun to drive and capable of keeping up with contemporary traffic. The base model 1300FWD and 1500FWD cars generally offer the best deals though increasingly some models, particularly the 1500SE, are becoming rarer to source. People with good examples tend to hang on to them.

Club support is excellent for these cars, not just for camaraderie and parts supply, but also for finding decent cars with history details to match. 

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