Pre-1940 Triumph Motor Cars from Family Photograph Albums

by Graham Shipman

Author Graham Shipman is the Registrar of the prewar Triumph Motor Club (which also caters to the Vale and Vernon Crossley marques which are based on Triumph mechanical parts) and an extremely knowledgeable person on all the many models made by Triumph in that period.

This is volume 3 of a series of similar books that the author began in 2005. It is a simple format, but one that takes hours of research and personal contact. It is not just a book of old photographs, the majority of the pictures are accompanied by the reminiscences of the owners of the cars, each story occupying a page. They are personal stories of the time, of sons and daughters or other relatives looking back at their times with a Triumph, either new or second-hand. Coming through these stories are changing fashions and lifestyles.   

I will quote from Graham Robson’s Foreword: “Leafing through these pages reminds me how clever the independent Triumph Company always was, in producing a seemingly endless stream of models whilst using strictly limited capital resources, and how they were unerring in producing cars which looked elegant, while hiding away easy-to-maintain (and manufacture) running gear . . . to me, the joy of a book like this . . . is that it not only reminds me of the cars themselves but also of the time when they were built and enjoyed. Page after page makes me smile happily to remember that Britain must have been a more peaceful, more pastoral and somehow a more gentle place.” 

This was the first book in the series but does not say “Volume 1” on the cover.

This could be described as a social history book. For the enthusiast what makes the book so important is the way that down the side of each page Graham Shipman has given the technical details of the model in question and full details of the individual cars. Finally there is the comment that only a Registrar can give: “the car is still in existence – sadly many are not.

One of the contributors is Paul Easter, later to become a BMC rally driver, whose parents had at least three Triumphs. His experiences during the war were interesting. Of the 1939 Triumph Dolomite 1½L sports saloon he says: “in 1946 I remember many journeys in the car, whilst sitting on my father’s lap, steering . . . This would definitely not be allowed now . . . The Dolomite performed very well and my father drove it with great verve, resulting in him receiving many speeding tickets!” Neena Jones from Wrexham writing about their 1936 Gloria Foursome Drop Head coupe: “In the summer of 1958 [on honeymoon] we toured Somerset and Devon. On reaching Porlock Hill, the steepest hill in England at one in four, people would stop to watch the cars as they attempted it. They were probably sure we would not make it to the top but we did.

I like the format of this very well presented hardback book. Graham tells me that the first two volumes have sold well and are in profit (easily available on the used-book market). Surely this is a format that could be copied by other clubs or individuals. The Austin 7, the Bullnose Morris, and prewar Bentley or MG come to mind. We know that the author has already started work on Volume 4.

Pre-1940 Triumph Motor Cars from Family Photograph Albums
by Graham Shipman
Self-published, 2013
180 pages, ca. 300 b/w photos, hardcover
List Price: £24.50 
ISBN 13: 978-0-9550422-3-2   

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