(02/08/21) - February
The View from Behind the Wheel - Ralph Spayd
Well here’s message #2 for the year. Unfortunately, February looks a lot like January. We did cancel both our club meeting and our CCC for the month. But the good news is we’re kicking off both for March. As always, masks will be required at both events. We’ll hold Coffee – Cars & Conversation (CCC) on March 6th at the Burger King in Columbia. They do require masks and have a 50% capacity restriction. But they didn’t feel it would be an issues at 9 AM on Saturday morning. We can only sit in groups of 4, but it’s a start. We’ll do the same thing in April on the 3rd again at the Burger King. Our club meetings will kick off on March 14th at 3 PM at the Centerville Diner. Again, same drill as masks will be required to enter the restaurant. We’ll be in the banquet room and social distance. We will also meet there in April on the 11th for our meeting. For both events, we’ll evaluate a change in venue for May, but for now we’re set to get the year started.
We held our 1st board of directors meeting on January 26th. Bruce and Sue Hurley were gracious hosts. We have a great board and the club is in good hands. Deb did ask why we were meeting on a rainy, foggy Tuesday night and not on a Saturday morning. To which I said……ummmm, don’t know. That’s a good idea! Don’t you hate it when people apply logic and reason?
Actually, it was a great idea and will take it to heart for the next meeting. Some old habits are hard to break. But had we not met at the Hurley’s we would have missed the amazing work Bruce is doing in the house. Bruce ain’t just a car guy……and his shop is spectacular. Nice work Bruce and it provided my rationalization!!!!
We have a great year planned with lots of drives and venues. We definitely plan to get out and about this year. I have invited The Central PA Triumph Club and The Austin Healey Club to join us at any and all of our events. Hope we can plan some group tours and events this year. We are also setting up a Meetup account to keep every informed of our plans. Some of the events may be short notice events to just show up and participate. Not major planned events. We need to become more spontaneous with our events. Also, don’t forget our post-Holiday Banquet on March 20th at the Fireside Tavern. A kinda post-COVID Christmas event!
We’ll it’s that time to ramble on. This is Steve’s favorite part of my missives. I hope everyone is staying safe and positive. These are trying times for all of us and it’s easy to feel isolated. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Very easy to pick up the phone and just call to talk to an old friend. Send an email or text, very easy peasy for all of us to stay connected during these times. And I guarantee it will make both of you feel good. I did get my 1st COVID vaccination shot scheduled for February 13th. I was very lucky to get scheduled and hope you are all having some level of success in scheduling a vaccination.
One last story. I bought a 2014 Jaguar F Type this summer. I absolutely love the car, but the potential maintenance does scare me. So, I bought an extended warranty. Whew….a level of comfort and security. The car did develop a coolant leak in the tubes cooling the supercharger. Thank goodness I bought the warranty……guess what, the parts weren’t covered. What a big surprise. Oh well, it is British and by this point of time in my life, I should not really be surprised by much. But I still do love the car and it gets me back it the good graces of the LANCO club by driving a British car. I’ve seen the error in my ways in driving a Corvette and Porsche…….not!!!!!
Back to British!
Stay safe and positive and remember to check out our web site at www.lancomgclub.com and mark your calendars for the upcoming events.
Early History of Triumph Motors - By Cliff Maurer
Every teenage boy growing up in post WWII America could tell you the difference between each carmaker’s yearly models as well as variants between models of the same car/year. I could tell you, as the car passed at 20 MPH, if it was a ’53 or ’54 Chevy and if it was a 6 cylinder or a V-8. Every boy had a bucket list of cars he dreamed of owning. Mine contained 3 cars. Top of my list was a Corvette. I would turn on the TV and watch Route 66 just to see the car. Next was a T type MG. I didn’t even know there were TC’s, TD’s and TF’s, I just wanted “one of them old looking cars.” The third was a Triumph TR4. What a cool looking car. A real girl magnet! (All that gender equality and sensitivity training must have paid off because I just wrote “girl magnet” NOT “chick magnet”!) Growing up in Central PA you didn’t see many of these cars.
I want to discuss the last car, the TR4 or specifically the company that built them. We may all know that Triumph Motors started out making motorcycles. Actually, it started one step back from there, it started out not making but selling bicycles under the name S. Bettmann & Co. It was started by a young 25-year-old German from Nuremburg, Siegfried Bettmann. In 1886 he started selling European bicycles in London. He sold the bicycles under the name “Triumph”. There is no literature as to why he chose the word Triumph.
Two years later with some underwriting by the Dunlop Tyre Co., Bettmann took on a partner, Johann Moritz Schulte, another German. Schulte convinced Bettmann to manufacture their own bicycle and in 1889 they purchased a shop in Coventry and began to manufacture their own machines and there were now known as the Triumph Cycle Company.
As many bicycle manufacturers did at the time, in 1902 they added a motor and started to sell motorcycles. (OK, there were two brothers from Dayton who decided to make their bicycles fly!) Thanks to large contracts by the British army during WWI by the end of the war in 1918 Triumph was the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in Britain. But, that infamous time between the wars, 1918 to 1939, was a tumultuous time and the company was to go through a twenty-year period of boom and bust.
In 1921, Bettmann was persuaded to purchase the Dawson Car Company and begin to manufacture cars. This proved profitable but sales were moderate until in 1927 the company introduced the Triumph Super 7. Four body styles were available including a two seat roadster with something called a “Dickey Seat”! It turns out it is what we would know as a “Rumble Seat”. (So, you can add that to your British car Vocab along with Boot, Hood and Bonnet) 17,000 were manufactured between 1927 and 1934, but by 1933 the “Dickey Seat” roadster was gone.
In 1930 the name was changed to The Triumph Motor Company. About this time a strategic decision was made. Management felt they could not compete in the mass market for cheap simple cars instead they decided to focus on the high end luxury car market. Bad move! This was 1930, the end of the opulent 1920s and the beginning of the great depression. They managed to stay afloat. Significant events during this time were the appearance of one Donald Healey in 1934. Yes, that same Healey of the Austin-Healey. Healey developed an engine design which was the first to be designed and built by Triumph.
Then in 1936 money problems hit. Not much can be found explaining what or why the financial problems came about. The bicycle and motorcycle portion of the company was sold off. The motorcycle portion was to become Triumph Engineering Co Ltd. This became Triumph Motorcycle Ltd. in the 1980s and is still manufacturing motorcycles.
Triumph Motor Co. did not fare so well. In 1938, Healey developed a new car called the Triumph Dolomite. It featured an Alpha Romeo designed straight 8 engine. It featured an all-aluminum body and if you compare this with an MG TA of the same time period you can see that Triumph did aim for the high end market. It featured an 8 cylinder engine, wind up windows in the doors, automatic chassis lubrication, a leather-bound adjustable steering wheel, dual hydraulic brake circuits, and for an additional 4% of the cost you could get a radio. I cannot find any production numbers for these cars.
In July 1939 the company filed for receivership and all assets including the rights to the name Triumph were sold to the Thomas W. Ward Co, a scrap yard. Two months later the Germans invaded Poland and started WWII. With the experience of making aluminum bodies the factory quickly entered into the wartime aircraft manufacturing. That brought the attention of Herman Goering’s Luftwaffe which completely destroyed the factory in 1940. That may be the reason for no production numbers. None of those things were even available on the MG TA.
But don’t worry, we know this little company will be a phoenix in the post war car market, which we will take up next time.
Letters from the Dutchie!
My name is Jacob “Jakey” Strohecker and I am the owner of the Lester’s Buggy Shop and Foreign Car Repair (Lester was my Father) here in Klingerstown. That’s in the Schuylkill County but if you go any farther west you’re out of the county and in the water once. That’s not the Susquehanna River but the Mahantongo Creek!
The reason I’m writing this is that some of my customers have them foreign cars and they want to start a club up here. Especially those ones that drive British cars from England. Why don’t they call them English cars? So, we need some smarts about this club stuff. We already have a name for our club; We are Brits und Schnitz.
Now my experience with these foreign cars goes way back when my father ran the shop. Elmer from up in Rough and Ready, he had one of those German WEE Double U’s. Ach now, when we saw that car, we knew why they lost the war. Those WEE Double U’s vas like those old SteadyBreakers (that’s what my Dad used to call a Studebaker) that you couldn’t tell the back from the front! Yah, you didn’t know if it vas coming or going. But here they got ferhuddled putting it together because the steering wheel faced the trunk! When you looked at the behind you saw the hood and the engine. Gut Fa Dumpt they didn’t even fix it right once. Instead of putting the steering wheel where it was supposed to be, they chust changed the transmission to one gear forward and three reverse gears! You had to drive the car backwards all the time. And these English are no better There vas this guy from over to Hebe that had an English car he called a MG TD. He brought it into the garage and here the doors were all fahutzt. The hinges were on the back of the door and it opened wrong. It swung out to the rear! There weren’t any windows in the doors either! It took us a long time to fix all that.
And then there was Kermit Bohner from Pillow. He bought one of those English MG B’s when he was over in England. He said he bought it because his wife is such a back seat driver. With this car the steering wheel is on her side of the car so Kermit can yell at her as they go down the road.
Well you chust let me know where I can get Club smarts and if your ever in Klinger Steidel stop into the buggy shop.
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