• Production 1976-1980
    32,031 made
  • Engine(s) 1,296 cc (79 cu in) Straight-4

The history of the Triumph Dolomite


The Triumph Dolomite was a car that first appeared in 1934 as a sports car and reused on a series of sporting saloons and open cars until at least 1939 when the Triumph Motor Company went into receivership. A number were still sold and registered in 1940, though it is uncertain whether the receiver or new owner turned out cars from spare parts, or sold off completed cars. All except the Straight 8 featured a "waterfall" grille styled by Walter Belgrove, versions of the saloons with conventional grilles were sold as Continental models.
Triumph Dolomite 8 
Production 1934-1935
3 made
Body style(s) 2-door open tourer
Engine(s) 1991 cc Straight 8
Transmission(s) 4 speed preselector
Wheelbase 104 inches (2640 mm)
The first use of the Dolomite name was in 1934, when it was used for a 8 cylinder sports car which resembled the Alfa Romeo 8C. However this car did not make production, only 3 being made. The engine was of 1990 cc capacity with twin overhead camshafts and fitted with a Roots type supercharger. The engine output was 120 bhp (89 kW) at 5500 rpm giving the car a top speed of over 110 mph (175km/h). Lockheed hydraulic brakes with large 16 inch (400 mm) drums were fitted. The pressed steel chassis was conventional with a beam front axle and half elliptic springs all round.
One of the cars was entered in the 1935 Monte Carlo Rally driven by Donald Healey but was withdrawn after being written off in a collision with a railway train on a level crossing in Denmark.
Largely because of the financial troubles of the company the car never went into production. Some spare engines and chassis were later assembled into complete cars by a London company called High Speed Motors (HSM).
Triumph Dolomite 14/60 and 16 
Production 1937-1940
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
Engine(s) 1767 cc In-line 4 (14/60)
1991 cc In-line 6 (16)
Wheelbase 110 inches (2794 mm)
Length 177 inches (4496 mm)
Width 67 inches (1702 mm)
The Dolomite name was again used from 1937 to 1940. The car this time had a 1767 cc four cylinder engine and saloon body. The design was overseen by Donald Healey and featured a striking new design of radiator grille by Walter Belgrove. The cars were marketed as "the finest in all the land" and targeted directly at the luxury sporting saloon market.
There was also a 6 cylinder version, the 2-Litre or 16 of 1991 cc capacity. The cars received excellent reviews from the period motoring press.
Triumph Dolomite Roadster 
Production 1937-1940
200 (approx) made
Body style(s) 2-door tourer
Engine(s) 1767 cc In-line 4
1991 cc In-line 6
Transmission(s) 4 speed manual
This was an open version of the 14/60, announced in April 1938, with seating for three people on a single bench seat and "two additional outside seats in the tail, reminiscent of the dickey seat that was at one time common" for two more people behind.
An increased compression ratio and mild further engine tuning justified a changed designation from 14/60 to 14/65 (where 14 was the fiscal horsepower and 65 was the claimed actual horsepower). The car was announced with the 1767 cc engine with twin SU carburettors, but in July 1938 a slightly longer wheel base version powered by a 1991 cc engine fed by triple SUs joined the range while the saloon version featuring the same 1991 cc engine still made do with just two SU carburettors. No power output figure was quoted by the manufacturers for the 1991cc Dolomite, but a straight-six engine of the almost the same size produced at the time by BMW and also fed by three carburettors was being quoted as producing 80 bhp. (Both engines were driven to feature long thin cylinders by the taxation regimes to which their manufacturers were subjected, so that the Triumph's bore and stroke were 65 x 100 mm whereas those for the BMW were 66 x 96 mm.)
Triumph had been moving progressively upmarket during the 1930s, and the 1938 Dolomites were very well equipped, with winding windows in the doors, automatic chassis lubrication, a leather bound steering wheel adjustable for rake and reach, dual hydraulic brake circuits, twin trumpet horns and spot lamps included in the price. There was even a tray of fitted tools slotted beneath the driver's seat cushion, and for an extra 18 guineas buyers could specify a radio.
The body was built from aluminium over a rot-proofed wooden (ash} frame. Like many Triumphs of that time, the car followed the American trend of concealing its radiator behind a flamboyant shining metal grille. The British market, then as now, was in many ways a conservative one, however, and before Dolomite production was suspended completely Triumph had time to introduce a "Vitesse" branded version of the Dolomite on which the grille had been removed and the car's own radiator was exposed in the traditional manner.
In 1939, less than a month after Britain declared war on Germany, and before civilian automobile availability had been withdrawn by government in either country, the Autocar magazine featured a road test of the two litre Dolomite Roadster coupe. By this time the manufacturer's published price had risen to £495. The testers recorded a mean maximum speed of 78 mph (126 km/h) with a best timed maximum speed of 81 mph (130 km/h). Acceleration from rest to 50 mph (80 km/h) was timed at 15 seconds. The testers appear to have been impressed by everything except the ambient weather at the time of the road testing.
The experience of producing hand beaten aluminium panels made the Coventry plant where the Dolomite was built a natural candidate for aircraft production as this was ramped up. Unfortunately this also attracted attention from the German airforce and the plant fell victim to bombing in 1940.
A coupé version was shown but never went into production.
Triumph Dolomite 1 litre
Production 1938-1940
Body style(s) 4-door saloon
Engine(s) 1496 cc or 1767 cc In-line 4
In 1938 a smaller engined version with 1496 cc engine was announced and available as a saloon or tourer. The 1767 cc engine was an option at first but became standard in 1939.

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