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Triumph Herald: Buying guide and review (1959-1971)

Triumph Herald: Buying guide and review (1959-1971) Classic and Performance Car
Triumph Herald buying guide (1959-1971) Triumph Herald buying guide (1959-1971)
The Triumph Herald burst onto the scene in 1959 and instantly became a family favourite. Although the company took what was considered to be an old-fashioned approach to construction – basing this new saloon on a separate chassis – it quickly became popular choice, offering a cheap and stylish form of transportation. 
Styling by Giovanni Michelotti was very modern and forward thinking at the time, and it still looks great today. Although based on a separate chassis, the Herald was advanced in other areas such as the independent coil spring front suspension, rack and pinion steering as well as independent rear suspension by transverse leaf spring. 
With a choice of two-door saloon, coupé, convertible and estate bodystyles, there was something for everyone, and while performance wasn’t gut-busting thanks to the 948cc engine, from 1961 there was also an 1147cc powerplant for those wanting more go – later on there would be a 1296cc unit. 
While the Herald made a great new buy back in the 1960s, it makes great classic transport now thanks to superb parts availability, easy maintenance and excellent practicality. With independent suspension all round, a turning circle tighter than a London taxi’s plus disc brakes on most models, the Herald is more capable dynamically than its reputation would have you believe.

Which one to buy?

No Herald is sporty, as the largest engine offers just 61bhp. But upgrades for a bit more go are simplicity itself – it’s easy to slot in Spitfire mechanicals, tune a Herald engine or you could go for the six-cylinder edition instead, the Vitesse. Mechanically similar to the Herald, you’ll need slightly deeper pockets to secure a Vitesse, but the premium isn’t that great.
All Heralds featured the same four-speed manual gearbox, with synchromesh on all gears except first. No Herald was available with overdrive from the factory, but there are plenty of cars about that have been converted to a Spitfire transmission – it’s worth seeking out one of these.
With its Meccano-like chassis-based construction, it’s common for a Herald to consist of parts from multiple cars, so don’t worry about Spitfire engines or gearboxes, Vitesse back axles, or even a Vitesse chassis underneath a Herald bodyshell. Some cars have been converted into dropheads, and it’s no problem if done properly and you’re not paying genuine convertible money. On that note, it’s a myth that the convertible has a stronger chassis than the saloon; they’re interchangeable, but the Vitesse features slightly bigger brakes up front. 

Performance and specs

Triumph Herald 13/60 convertible 
Engine 1296cc in-line four-cylinder  
Power 61bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 73lb ft @ 3000rpm
Top speed 84mph
0-60mph 17.7sec
Fuel consumption 34mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2324mm
Length 3886mm
Width 1524mm
Height 1321mm
Kerb weight 838kg

Common problems

• While scruffy cars might not be pleasing to look at, the bodywork doesn't provide any strength - so as long as the chassis is strong and rust-free, there are no safety issues. The chassis can suffer from rot however, and you'll have to remove the bodyshell to repair the outriggers and main chassis rails that are likely to show signs of corrosion thanks to a dirt trap near the differential. 
• Check everything you can for rot, but pay particular attention to the floorpan and door bottoms. Other problem areas include the front valance, as well as the front corners of the bonnet. Be sure to check around the spare wheel well, as water can collect with rust quickly forming. 
• If good shut-lines are a must for you, then be prepared for a long wait! Most Heralds suffer from poor panel fit, even original ones, and if the car has had a body-off restoration it can be extremely difficult to line everything up. It's generally something you can learn to live with though...
• The engines are durable, but a filter with a non-return valve must be fitted, or the big-end bearings will wear quickly, betrayed by rattling at start up. Once this has happened, a bottom-end rebuild is the only solution. 
• A common failing of the 1296cc engine is worn thrust washers. If these let-go it could write off the engine block and crankshaft. An easy test is to rock the front pulley, and if you can feel any movement expect to make some repairs
• Gearboxes are reasonably durable, but the synchro wears, so check for baulking. Also listen for whining, indicating worn gears, or rumbling, signifying duff bearings. 
• The front suspension can give trouble, but it’s all cheap and easy to fix. The nylon bushes in the brass trunnions wear, while the trunnions themselves wear if they’re not regularly lubricated with EP90 oil. Without this, water gets in and corrodes the lower portion of the vertical link, weakening it so the suspension collapses. 
• The rubber suspension bushes perish, the anti-roll bar links can break while the wheelbearings wear along with the track rod ends, plus the steering rack and upper ball joints – but they’re all easily and cheaply replaced. 
• If the car has been leaking oil for some time (and a lot do have the odd leak) the rubber steering rack mounts may have softened from the contamination. You will feel plenty of play in the steering if they are worn, but you can get under the car and check for movement to confirm the issue
• Although effectively a service item, special attention should be paid to the rear wheelbearings. While they can be difficult to replace (a special press is required), if not attended to quickly the driveshafts will need to be scrapped thanks to a design flaw. 

Model history 

1959: The 948cc Herald saloon and coupé debut.
1960: The 948 convertible arrives.
1961: The Herald 1200 (with 1147cc engine) replaces the 948 edition, although the entry-level Herald S continues with the smaller engine. In the same year, an estate is introduced with the 1147cc engine.
1962: There’s now a Herald van, called the Courier, with an 1147cc engine.
1963: The Herald 12/50 arrives, with cloth sunroof and higher-output (51bhp) 1147cc engine.
1964: The coupé and Courier are dropped.
1967: The Herald 13/60 goes on sale, with 1296cc powerplant.
1971: The Herald is killed off.

Summary and prices

Unlike many cars from the same era, the simple and fun Triumph Herald has remained relatively affordable. There are a fair amount of projects around from the £500, and these represent a fun winter project for the ambitious DIY mechanic. Spend £1500-£2000 to get something with an MoT in rough to ‘usable’ condition, while there are good condition saloons north of the £3000 mark.
Coupe models are worth a little bit more, with good cars commanding north of £4000, while the convertible models are the most desirable and expensive, commanding north of £5000 in good condition. As always, cars in freshly restored and concours condition car cost significantly more.
Words: Richard Dredge
Triumph Herald buying guide (1959-1971) Triumph Herald buying guide (1959-1971)
Last updated: 9th Nov 2016
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Triumph Herald cars for sale

4 Search results
Triumph Herald
1000 9995 GBP
  • TRIUMPH HERALD Vitesse 2.0 Convertible. 1971

    £8,995 £8,995

    1971 Triumph Vitesse Convertible MK II. 2.0 Litre. Manual with Overdrive. Factory white with black ambla upholstery and black hood. This Vitesse has incredibly had just one owner from new until 2016, it was supplied by Byatts of Fenton Ltd of Stoke-on-Trent on 10th May 1971 and has been in the same ownership since. It was treated to an GBP 11000 refurbishment in 2004 by Classic and Vintage Restoration of Market Drayton and has covered little mileage in the last 12 years. We have a copy of the invoice and photographs of the work carried out. The car drives just as it should with a strong six cylinder engine and smooth gearbox with working overdrive. More recently the car has been fitted with a brand new set of Minilite style wheels and tyres and twin stainless exhaust pipes. This Triumph is now ready to use and just waiting to be enjoyed in new hands. This is a vehicle that any enthusiast would be very happy to own and enjoy. Absolutely any inspection welcome. Please call us for any more information. All major debit and credit cards accepted. Delivery can be arranged.

    • Mileage: 93000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.998
    For sale
    TA Classics
    01788 851261 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Triumph Herald

    £1,000 £1,000

    Selling out triumph herald, brought it a few years ago, it's a sold car underneath and the body is straight. Interior is in very good condition for age, all electrics work, just needs a bit of card adjustment to get it running as it's been sat over the winter.  Lost of Service history and other bits.   currebtly didn't have an mot as never got round to renewing it.  Any questions please don't hesitate to ask call me on 07940519457 adam 

    • Engine size: 1296
    For sale

    £9,995 £9,995

    1968 TRIUMPH HERALD 13/60 CONVERTIBLE Triumph Racing Green with Black Trim Family owned from new. Total body restoration carried out some years ago by Marque Specialists. Photographic record etc. etc. A beautifully honest example in superb condition throughout. A full 4 seater convertible that all the family can enjoy. PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE CURRENTLY HAVING ISSUES WITH OUR 'CONTACT PAGE'. PLEASE CONTACT US ON 01636 812700 OR VIA sales@sherwoodrestorations.co.uk

    • Year: 1968
    For sale
  • Triumph Herald 1200 Cabriolet 1968


    SOLD / VERKAUFT / VENDU / VERKOCHT Triumph Herald 1200 cabriolet 1968 in good condition The Herald is a little 2 door car, built between 1959 and 1971, as saloon, cabriolet and estate. This is a 1968 Triumph Herald 1200 cabriolet. The car has soft yellow paint and grey fabric in beautiful and good condition with some traces of use. He has the 1147 CC, 4 cyl, 39 HP engine and 4 speed manual gearbox. The car also has Minilite wheels and ton-sur-ton hard top. Technics fully checked in our workshop and in very good condition. Car has European title and mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1968
    For sale
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