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Siegfried Bettman, German born of Jewish parents, arrived in the United Kingdom in 1883 where he started building bicycles, first using the Triumph name in the 1890's. He built his first motorcycle in 1902. Triumph became well established in Coventry and had German connections with a cycle factory in Nuremberg. The first three-wheeler was produced at Coventry in 1903.

Some twenty years were to pass before a four-wheel Light Car was made, this was based on the Dawson, a make that had failed, and had hydraulic brakes on the rear wheels.


The bicycle business was sold at the end of the 1920's and in 1936 the motorcycle and car businesses were separated.

The multi story motorcycle factory at Priory Street, Coventry (now the site of the new cathedral) was not suitable for car production, so Bettman bought the Dawson Car Company's premises at Clay Lane and the first Triumph car appeared in April 1923. Arthur Alderson, previously at Singer and Lea-Francis, designed it.

In 1929 Triumph competed in the Monte Carlo Rally and Tourist Trophy Race in Northen Ireland. Single seaters were raced at Brooklands. In the 1930 Monte Carlo Rally Donald Healey was 7th from a field of 87 in a Super Seven thereby being the highest place British car. During the 1930's Triumph competed and won many events. Despite this Triumph were in financial difficulties by 1939 and for a time the company was owned by Thos W Ward (A well known Sheffield steel concern).


Triumph Dolomite   (1934)

Although initially making their own engines they turned to Coventry-Climax in 1932 but reverting again to their own in 1936/7.

Triumph realised they could not compete with the likes of Austin and Morris and concentrated on the top end of the family market. In mid 1933 Colonel Holbrook took over from Siegfried Bettman as managing director. (Bettman bought the motorcycle arm in 1936 at the age of 72). The Technical Director was Donald Healey.

The company went into receivership in 1939 and The Standard Motor Company bought Triumph in 1945.


Triumph TR2   (1952)

Experiments were carried out to try to revive the former sporting image of Triumph and eventually led to the TR2 in 1953. This car was a success selling well in export markets. The TR3 became available in 1955 to be followed in January 1958 by the well-known TR3A.

In 1959 the Herald was announced to replace the Eight and Ten, this car had a separate chassis and boasted a 25 foot (7.6 m) turning circle.

Also in 1959 three fibreglass bodied cars, the TR3S, were entered for Le Mans but none finished. Another attempt was made in 1960 with another three cars, the TRS. They all ran for the required twenty-four hours but did not qualify as they had not covered the required distance.


Triumph Herald cabriolet  (1960)

In December 1960 the company merged with Leyland Motors Ltd.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Triumph sold a succession of Michelotti-styled saloons and sports cars, including the advanced Dolomite Sprint, which, in 1973, already had a twin-cam, 16-valve engine. But many Triumphs of this era were unreliable, including the 2.5 PI with its fuel injection problems, and the poor quality of the TR7 and TR8 sports cars, which killed the marque in the United States.


Triumph Acclaim   (1981)

The last Triumph model was the Acclaim which was launched in 1981 in a joint venture with Japanese company Honda. The Triumph name disappeared in 1984, when the Acclaim was replaced by the Rover 200, which was also simply a rebadged version of Honda's Civic/Ballade model.

The trademark is currently owned by BMW, acquired when it bought the Rover Group in 1994. When it sold Rover, it kept the Triumph marque. The Phoenix Consortium, which bought Rover, tried to buy the Triumph brand, but BMW refused, saying that if Phoenix insisted, it would break the deal.

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