Learn the interesting history of British car maker Triumph

Triumph Cycle Company

The Triumph Motor Company was a British vehicle and motor manufacturing company in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The marque was founded in 1885 by Siegfried Bettmann of Nuremberg. Bettmann & Co. and began buying bicycles from Europe and selling them in London under his own brand names.

The company’s name was changed to Triumph Cycle Co. Ltd. in 1897, they began producing Triumph motorbikes at their Coventry factory on Much Park Street in 1902. Triumph produced their first automobile in 1923. 

Initially, these secondhand engines were purchased from another manufacturer, but as the business grew, they began manufacturing their own engines. During World War I, the British Army placed significant orders for the 550 cc Model H. 

Triumph had become Britain’s leading motorcycle manufacturer by 1918. Bettmann was obligated by his general manager Claude Holbrook, to begin developing a car and 1.4L engine type called the Triumph 10/20 developed for them by Lea-Francis, to whom they bestowed a royalty for each car sold, in 1921.

Changed its name to Triumph Motor Company 

Since 1930, the company’s name has been changed to Triumph Motor Company. Holbrook realized he couldn’t compete with the larger automakers for a wide range of customers, so he chose to produce premium automobiles, releasing the Southern Cross and Gloria models.

Initially, these utilized engines made by Triumph but designed by Coventry Climax, but Triumph began producing engines to their own designs in 1937, thanks to Donald Healey, who had been the company’s new manager in 1934.

Triumph’s bicycle and motorcycle companies were sold in 1936, with the latter going to Jack Sangster of Ariel to become Triumph Engineering Co Ltd. Healey obtained an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 and developed the Triumph Dolomite, a car with an Alfa-inspired straight-8 engine.

Triumph Motor Company went into receivership in July 1939, and the factory, equipment, and goodwill were offered for sale. The Thos. W. Ward dismantling firm bought Triumph and put Healey in charge as general manager, but the ravages of World war 2 once again stopped car manufacturing.

Standard Triumph

In November 1944, the Standard Motor Company purchased what was left of the Triumph Motor Company and the Triumph brand name, and a company “Triumph Motor Company Limited” was founded, with manufacture moving to Standard’s factory at Canley, on the outskirts of Coventry. 

In the early 1950s, it was decided to put the Triumph name on sports cars and the Standard name on sedans, and of 1953, the Triumph TR2 was released, the first in a series that would last until 1981. Surprisingly, the TR2 had a Standard logo on its front and a Triumph globe on its wheels and tires.


Standard had been producing a line of compact sedans known as the Standard Eight and Ten, and they were working on a replacement. Triumph was viewed as a more marketable name than Standard due to the success of the TR family, and the new automobile was released in 1959 as the Triumph Herald. The Triumph 2000 replaced the last Standard automobile produced in the United Kingdom in 1963.


In December 1960, Leyland Motors Ltd. purchased Standard-Triumph. In 1963, Donald Stokes was appointed chairman of the Standard-Triumph division. In 1968, British Leyland Motor Corporation was formed as a result of more mergers.

Many Triumphs of this era are said to have been unreliable, particularly the 2.5 petrol injection with its fuel injection issues. The summer heat in Australia caused petrol in electric fuel pumps to vapourise, resulting in frequent problems.


BMW presently owns the brand, which it obtained when it purchased the Rover Group in 1994. The Phoenix Consortium, which purchased Rover, attempted to acquire the Triumph brand, but BMW declined. British Motor Heritage still owns the Standard marque and has the license to use the Triumph marque for the selling of spares and servicing of the current park of Triumph automobiles.

Interesting Facts about Triumph Cars


It was established in 1885  – Triumph was established in 1885 under the moniker S. Bettmann and Sons, Inc. Siegfried Bettmann, who had moved to England from Nuremberg, Germany, was the founder.

Triumph began producing automobiles in 1921 – When Triumph entered the car market in 1921, they broadened the range of items they produced. In 1921, Triumph introduced the Triumph 10/20, an automobile with a 1.4-liter engine. The Triumph Acclaim, debuted in 1981, was the last car to have the Triumph moniker.

They used to sell sewing machines – Although Triumph is today best known for its motorbikes and has a history of selling automobiles, the company also offered other products in the past. They were imported from Europe, with Triumph serving as a middleman rather than a manufacturer.

Hinckley is the location of their headquarters – Triumph has had headquarters in a variety of locations over the years due to periodic changes in ownership. The company’s present headquarters are located in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England. They’ve been there since John Bloor bought the company in 1987.

During World War I, they manufactured a large number of motorcycles – They were the largest motorcycle manufacturer contracted to construct cars during World War I. Although Triumph produced 57,000 of these single-cylinder bikes, only 30,000 are estimated to have seen active service during WWII. Triumph became the top motorcycle manufacturer in the United Kingdom by 1918.

In 1960, the company was sold – Triumph was purchased by Leyland Motors in 1960. It was sold again when Jaguar and British Motor Corporation combined with Leyland.

Triumph Was Nearly Bankrupt – John Bloor, a British investor, bailed it out by purchasing the trademark and manufacturing rights. Triumph Motorcycles finally broke even in 2000, after enormous investments, and have been unstoppable since.

Now the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the United Kingdom – Triumph is presently the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the United Kingdom, thanks to its remarkable growth over the last few decades. Triumph sold over 63,400 motorcycles in the 12 months preceding June 2017.


Triumph, like Rover, was a true British success story in the 1960s. They have experienced near bankruptcy but they were able to retain its name in the industry, thanks to investors who was not afraid to take the risk.