Classics World’s Chris Stacey test drives and reviews the 1964 Triumph 2000 Mk1…

Standard Triumph was a player in the big saloon market with its Vanguard series cars through the Fifties and early Sixties. However, when replacement of the somewhat staid Vanguard became essential, the company chose to launch its successor under the name Triumph. This was significant, as previously the Triumph badge had been reserved for their sportier offerings.

Following a period of management procrastination, a mere two years development saw the new 2000 saloon ready to launch at the 1963 Earls Court Motor Show. This was a considerable accomplishment, given that the new executive saloon was based on a brand new unitary construction body with sharp Italian styling penned by Michelotti, and included innovative technical features such as independent rear suspension. Coincidentally, Rover’s 2000 model launched simultaneously and remained a close rival throughout the new Triumph’s life.

1964 Triumph 2000 Mk1

Through the Sixties Triumph kept up the pace of innovation, stretching the engine to 2.5 litres and adding Lucas Petrol Injection from 1969. The resultant 2.5 PI, with a 0-60 mph time of just 10 seconds, set a new benchmark for a market segment not used to sparkling performance. The body was facelifted late in 1969 producing the Mk2, the restyle lasting until production ceased in 1977. Due to reliability worries with the Lucas PI system, Triumph reverted to twin carburettors during the Seventies for the 2500 TC and 2500 S models.

With the plethora of upgrades to Triumph’s big saloon range, early Mk1 2000 models are often overlooked by those seeking the power and reputation for performance of the 2.5PI. This is a shame, as the Mk1 shows Michelotti’s design for Triumph’s big saloon in its purest form, and the silky-smooth 2000 Mk1 engine is the sweetest unit from Triumph’s six pot range, though obviously not the most potent. Having lived in the shadow of the 2.5PI, well-preserved early 2000 models are now an infrequent sight.

Given this rarity factor, as a Triumph enthusiast it’s a real pleasure to find a well-preserved Mk1  at Leicestershire dealer Cherished Classic Cars. Proprietor Lee Cort has had this 2000 in stock for a few months and has come to admire the car’s honest originality so much he is now starting to consider keeping it for himself. Finished in Cactus Green with Matador Red upholstery, both body and interior are much fresher than you would expect from a car that left the dealer’s showroom 54 years ago. Better still, there are no signs of any major repair work to the rust-free bodywork. Running a hand under the wheel arches shows these typical rot-spots are free from blemishes. The chrome bumpers are obviously original and show slight patination; they really don’t need rechroming yet and in any case, to do so would be destroy part of the car’s remarkable originality.

The interior is similarly fresh, the seats comfortable and supportive, and free from rips or tears. The carpets have faded very slightly but to replace them is unnecessary and would, like re-plating the bumpers, sacrifice a piece of the car’s history. The wooden dash is smart though there are signs of the lacquer starting to peel in one corner. The engine bay and boot are both as tidy and original as the rest of the car.

1964 Triumph 2000 Mk1

The two litre six starts first time from cold and soon warms to the point the choke can be pushed in. Tickover is perfectly smooth and the car pulls away easily, suggesting the twin carbs are well balanced and in good condition. Going up through the gears, the four-speed non-overdrive gearbox has a slick, precise change and the clutch pedal is light and progressive. Going on and off the power shows no sign of the transmission clonking, always worth checking with the big Triumph saloons as driveshafts are a known weakness. The car rides as well as you would hope with Triumph’s all-independent coil sprung suspension, steering is positive and the brakes promptly halt the car without pulling or grabbing. In short, this car drives beautifully and feels almost brand new.

The Triumph’s folder of paperwork includes past MoT certificates which confirm the low mileage, plus a good selection of bills, including an overhaul of the carburettors, new driveshafts and servicing. It’s clear that previous owners have looked after the car well and so this Triumph 2000 is ready to drive. Whether the purchaser’s preference is a touring holiday or simply trips to local weekend car shows, it will give the next owner the pleasure of a genuine Sixties executive saloon experience, and should prove to be a stylish and reliable companion.

This big Triumph saloon has clearly been pampered all its life. Mechanically it is completely sound, the interior is extremely well preserved and most important, the bodywork is solid, rust-free and appears original. It drives beautifully and is ready to go. At a whisker under £9,000, it isn’t cheap but the asking price is undoubtedly justified by its exceptional quality and originality. This 2000 is one for the Triumph connoisseurs to enjoy.

1964 Triumph 2000 Mk1

Triumph 2000 Mk1
Engine 1,998cc Straight 6
Power 90bhp
Top Speed 99mph
0-60mph 13.5secs
Economy 24mpg