loading Loading please wait....

Triumph Herald buying guide (1959-1971)

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. Especially popular with women drivers and driving schools, the Herald struck a chord with those who wanted something stylish, cheap to buy and run, comfortable and manoeuvrable into the bargain.

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.

Tech spec - Triumph Herald 13/60 convertible

Engine 1296cc/4-cyl
Power 61bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque 73lb ft @ 3000rpm
Top speed 84mph
0-60mph 17.7sec
Consumption 34mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual

What to look for

• 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.

Words: Richard Dredge
Triumph Herald buying guide (1959-1971) Triumph Herald buying guide (1959-1971)
Last updated: 13th May 2015
collapse this

Triumph Herald cars for sale

4 Search results
Triumph Herald
4000 6995 GBP
  • Triumph - Herald convertible - 1963

    £18,000 - £23,400 est. £18,000 - £23,400 est.
    Online Auction
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    Catawiki Auctions
  • 1970 Triumph Herald 13/60 Saloon

    £4,000 £4,000

    - Single lady ownership from new until April 2016 and 82,000 warranted miles - Refurbished during the 1980s, owner's handbook, numerous service invoices - Beige vinyl upholstery, 4-speed manual, history file, MOT'd till June 24th Further Info: The extremely well-preserved example offered here was first registered on November 1st 1970 and supplied to a local businessman for his wife's use. The car remained in her ownership up until April 2016 by which time it had covered a warranted 82,000 miles. The history file includes the original owner's hand book and a thick pile of service invoices. The file also contains copies of correspondence between the owner and the company that refurbished the car in the 1980s, which make very interesting reading. The car has old MOTs going back to 1986 and a period radio. The present MOT certificate expires on June 24th 2016.

    • Year: 1970
    For sale
  • 1968 Triumph Herald 13

    £6,995 £6,995

    Lovely car with only 4 previous owners and has been well looked after all its life!! In Valencia blue with black upholstery, detailed engine bay and long MOT the 13/60 is a joy to drive. Legendary turning circle means it can turn around in the smallest of spaces. Comes with sports steering wheel, alternator for reliable charging, strong headlights etc. She comes fully serviced and ready to go. This car deserves to go to a good home where she will continue to be cherished. Very difficult to find a Herald in this condition and whilst not perfect, represents great value for money. Put a smile on your face.

    • Year: 1968
    For sale
  • Triumph Herald

    £5,000 £5,000

    This lovely Herald 13/60 was owned by one family in Derby from 1971 until 2005.In the late 1990s the car was subject to a full body off restoration, numerous photographs of which are present in the history file with a few examples being shown here. The result was a show standard car which was described by its owner at the time as concours and valued accordingly for insurance purposes.In 2005 the car was purchased by a gentleman in East Sussex who was obviously intent on keeping the car in first class condition and proceeded to recondition the engine and upgrade it for modern unleaded fuel. Again there are photographs in the history file relating to this work. Between 2005 and 2008 the car travelled over 6000 miles and was obviously being used and enjoyed.The car passed to its last owner in 2008 and appears to have remained largely unused, though with a number of services, for the next few years, travelling only around 500 miles in total.The current MOT expires on 15th December 2016 and has no advisory comments. I have, however, just fitted four new tyres as I felt that the existing tyres were unsuitable on grounds of their age. The history file contains 15 MOTs running from 1997 at 61027 miles to the current one issued in December 2015 at 74713 miles. The car remains in totally solid structural and body work condition, its mechanics are excellent and the interior is outstanding. The paintwork and engine ancillaries have a few superficial cosmetic blemishes which would appear

    • Mileage: 74000 mi
    • Engine size: 1296
    For sale
Related Specification
Related content