Bad buy Heralded major rebuild but ended in Triumph
Steve Williams was in the dark about the condition of his Triumph Herald, after buying it at night in the rain, but daylight revealed it was a wreck.
The BMC Mini, Ford Anglia and Triumph Herald were all new-generation, modern cars introduced in 1959.
I have owned several Minis and an Anglia van, named Boris, with steering that shook violently when I drove over a pothole. But my very first car, and pride and joy, was my Herald.
The Herald had clean-cut looks, all-round independent suspension, sports car gearshift and the smallest turning circle of any production car. Maintenance was easy as the whole front end hinged forward – like an E-Type Jag – to expose the 948cc engine.
At 17 I saw an ad for a 1960 Herald and couldn’t wait to see it but made a big mistake viewing it at night in pouring rain. Despite having less than a month’s tax and MOT I handed over £60 from selling my Lambretta scooter.
When I looked the car over properly the next day it turned out to be a wreck. The brakes, tyres and exhaust needed immediate attention. The worst was yet to come. When I checked underneath, the chassis outriggers crumbled in my hand. As Heralds had a bolt-together body I decided to separate the car from the engine and chassis to gain access for welding.
Once new outriggers had been fitted, the underside was given a coat of thick black underseal before refitting the body. To cut costs, many mechanical and body parts were obtained from scrapyards. This was often a treacherous task as the donor car was often on top of a pile of others and, if the large alsatian guard dog didn’t bite you on the way in, the yard owner would sting you on price on the way out.
The almost bald cross-ply tyres were replaced with budget remoulds and the exhaust patched with Holts Gun Gum Putty and bandages. The brakes were next and I have memories of sitting in the car pumping the pedal while my dad was scrabbling underneath with a jam jar and piece of rubber pipe to bleed the system.
Once the mechanical work was complete, the holes in the bodywork were filled before spraying the car – and the front lawn – with Ford electric blue metal flake paint. After passing my driving test, I couldn’t wait to rip off the stick-on L plates which took off a square patch of paintwork too.
I then got into the 1970s car customising craze after getting a job at Motac Motor Parts in Clevedon. Thanks to staff discounts, my Herald got the full treatment – rally seat covers, 10in steering wheel, dashboard dials, tinted windows, 10ft glassfibre whip aerial, Porsche 911 Fuchs type wheel trims and straight-through exhaust box. Despite trying to make the car look and sound sporty it only had a top speed of around 65mph – no faster than my 175cc Lambretta.
Adding so much extra weight had its drawbacks... happy days!
Sadly, I am unable to find any photos of my Herald, so I submitted one of my cartoons.
Tell us about your first car – email your memories with a picture of the car to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.