Aided by its separate-chassis design, the new-for-1959 Herald proved an ideal base from which to develop other models – including Triumph sports cars
TRIUMPH HERALD (1959-71)
The Herald differed from most of its contemporaries thanks to its rather old-fashioned use of a separate chassis, although it still went on to enjoy a highly successful twelve-year career. The coupe version was short-lived, but the saloon, estate and convertible models stayed the course, with engines sizes increasing from 948cc to 1147cc and 1296cc in later years.
As with most compact British saloons of the ’60s, prices have risen significantly over the last couple of decades. What was once a cheap classic that could be snapped up in good order for a few hundred pounds is now worth considerably more. You might find a project car for less than £1000 but it’s going to need a serious amount of work.
Herald saloons are the most commonplace versions, and the most affordable. You should be able to find a presentable example for between £3000 and £4000, although a roadworthy car needing only cosmetic attention might come for as little as £2500-£2750 in a private sale. Anglia Car Auctions (ACA) recently sold a tidy looking Herald 1200 for £3445 including fees, although a 1965 example in good order achieved well over £5000 with SWVA back in June.
Somewhere between those two figures is a realistic budget for anyone seeking a saloon that’s ready to enjoy – only a marginal movement on three years ago, although that £4000(ish) is around a 50% increase on 2010’s average figures. An estate is likely to cost slightly more in similar condition, while a good-to-excellent convertible might set you back £5000-£7000.
TRIUMPH VITESSE (1962-71)
Squeezing a straight-six under the bonnet of a Herald (saloon or convertible), and treating the front end to slanted quad headlamps, transformed a likeable little runabout into a performance saloon that really looked the part. The Vitesse started out with Triumph’s 1596cc unit, but this was replaced by the 1998cc (95bhp) version in 1966, while two years later came the Vitesse MkII with much-needed modified rear suspension for improved handling.
With just 51,000 built, the Vitesse is a fairly rare sight now, but it still offers decent value for money. As with the Herald, the saloon offers better value for money than the convertible, and we’ve recently seen examples needing some TLC advertised from £4000 or less, with projects from as little as half that. At its July sale, Matthewsons sold a 1969 Vitesse MkII for £3440 – a keen price for a car that was sound but in need of some cosmetic improvement. For a better-preserved example, however, you’ll pay more – with between £5000 and £7500 being the norm for a Vitesse saloon in good-to-excellent order, representing a small increase on the prices of three years ago.
Convertibles command a premium, which explains some interesting auction results lately – with more than £11,000 paid for a fully restored Vitesse 2-Litre at an ACA sale last year. Other auctions have seen Vitesse convertibles in presentable condition selling for less, with £5000-£8000 being a more typical price range for a good car needing only minor cosmetics – roughly 40% more than you might have paid in 2010.
TRIUMPH SPITFIRE MkI & MkII (1962-67)
One of the most successful models based around the chassis and running gear of the Herald was the two-seater Spitfire, a model that stayed in production through to 1980. This time, however, we’ll focus on the original MkI and subsequent MkII Spitfire, each of which used the Herald’s 1147cc engine, albeit fed by twin SU carburettors for sprightlier performance.
Interest in early Spitfires has risen over the years, and the best examples often now sell for strong money. A 1966 MkII that had been restored to a very high standard, for example, sold for just shy of £18,000 at a Historics auction in September. By comparison, another fully restored MkII from the same year achieved almost £14,000 (against an estimate of £15,000-plus) at a Matthewsons’ sale just over a year ago. Even the most immaculate early Spitfire would have topped out at £10,000-£11,000 five years ago, so there’s been plenty of upward movement.
You don’t have to pay that much, though. MkI and MkII Spitfires in reasonable-to-good condition can still be seen advertised at £4000-£6000, and this is reflected in various auction results – including the fairly tidy looking MkII that was sold by ACA at the end of last year for just over £4100 including fees, a car that would no doubt need work to improve further. But if you want a car to show (though not to win a concours d’elegance in), then £7000-£8000 should suffice – an increase of around 35-40 per cent over the last decade.