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The Triumph VITESSE : 1962-1971

Vitesse_page.gif (4141 bytes)Meanwhile, back in 1959 and the introduction of the Herald, any number of new models, projects and prototypes were being considered by Standard-Triumph. One of these was an engine project -- a six-cylinder engine derived from the SC/Herald engine (the engine that ultimately was to power the 2000 and TR6 models). By 1960, Triumph engineers had shoehorned a 2-litre version of this six into a modified Herald Coupé. The concept caught on, at least within the Triumph organization. No one expected sales to be exceptional, and the cost to bring the car to production was fairly low, so the car looked to be profitable. Major changes from the original Herald involved new front styling from Michelotti and a reworked, sturdier chassis frame ( later adapted on Heralds as mentioned above ). When the Vitesse was launched in 1962, it featured a 1600cc engine rather than the 2000cc engine of the first prototype, and the car was offered only in Saloon and Convertible versions. Lagging sales of the Herald Coupé were to blame for the lack of a Coupé in the Vitesse range. In 1965, the substitution of Stromberg sidedraft carburetors and manifold from the 2000 for the original Solex setup resulted in a significant gain of horsepower, acceleration and fuel economy.

Vitesse_sm.jpg (5894 bytes)By 1966, the Vitesse had been significantly upgraded in the face of increased competition, primarily in sharing a 95hp, 2- litre motor and other components introduced in the new GT6 , all-synchromesh transmission (developed originally for factory Spitfire rallye cars), sturdier axles and differential, larger front disc brakes, and the 4.5" wide wheels used on Courier, GT6 and 2000 models. 

By this time, though, the limitations of the swing-axle rear suspension were noted more and more both in the Vitesse and GT6. Although the now-familiar swing-spring fix had been around since the beginning of the Herald line in 1959, it was not applied until 1971, and then only to the Spitfire. Instead, a double- jointed half axle setup was designed, utilizing the same transverse spring but adding a lower wishbone and rotoflex couplings and relocating the trailing arm and shock absorbers (now lever type on the Vitesse). The Vitesse 2-litre Mk. 2, introduced in late 1968, incorporated this change along with a further increase in horsepower, gained from a different camshaft and use of the "full-width" cylinder head. (The GT6 Mk.2 -- or GT6+ in North America -- also shared these improvements.) As good as the car now was, though, it was perhaps a bit late in coming. Sales tapered off steadily; the last Vitesse was built in May 1971, only weeks before Dolomite production began.

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Vitesse 1600/Sports 6 -- HB1-HB34053;
April 1962-September 1966
Saloon -- 22,814 ---- Convertible -- 8447

Vitesse 2-litre -- HC1-HC12079;
September 1966-September 1968
Saloon -- 7328 ---- Convertible -- 3502

Vitesse 2-litre Mk. II -- HC50001-HC58109;
July 1968-May 1971
Saloon -- 5649 ---- Convertible -- 3472

 Suffix letters in Commission numbers

L  Left hand steer   (as 1st suffix letter)

DL  Saloon

(NOTE: this applies to "Deluxe" Saloons only; a Commission  number  with no suffix letters would denote a RHD Saloon )
CP Coupé
CV Convertible
SC Estate
V Courier Van
RS Sunshine roof (NOTE: Saloon only; e.g., a Deluxe RHD Saloon would have a Commission number ending in "DLRS"
O Overdrive (NOTE: officially offered on Vitesse only)


  • Exterior: much as Herald 1200, but front restyled with "trademark" slanted pairs of 5.75" headlamps; Sports 6 badge on trunklid; front and rear valences as Herald, but featuring aluminum extrusions instead of white rubber; wheels featured chrome nave plate as Herald, but with slotted rim embellishers
  • Interior: as Herald 1200, except: in the latter part of 1963 a revised dashboard featured a smaller speedo with a matching tachometer and separate fuel and temperature gauges, and a large map pocket was added in the passenger footwell.


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