A New Globe and
Garland Laurel Wreath
This post is my effort to capture and articulate a vision for the revival of the Triumph automobile marque.
Mission and Vision of the New Triumph Automobile
The new Triumph is all about the joy of driving – all else is ancillary. Second, a Triumph should be relatively minimalist in its engineering, design and cost to own. Third, it should be unmistakably British in character.
Triumph should adopt a design and engineering mantra similar to Mazda’s “Kansei engineering” era which gave birth to the MX-5 (arguably the most successful roadster of all time).
A person could argue for the “need” to revive a new Triumph after taking a look at the list of sports cars, roadsters and British marques available today. Below are my thoughts on the cars that I see as competitors or similar in focus:
Porsche Boxster – Technically proficient, but boring in the delivery.
The Boxster is an excellent sportscar by all technical specs and according to most magazine reviews. My personal experience with the Boxster left me slightly unimpressed with the overall experience. In short, the Boxster may be clinically proficient but lacks design character, costs too much and has an overall disconnected personality with the driver. After driving the Boxster S, I was immediately disappointed with the cost-to-fun ratio and went looking for other options. The 911 Convertible is not even a consideration based on its cost.
Mazda MX-5/Miata – Feels great, but not enough juice!
First, a disclaimer…I’ve owned several Miatas (1st Gen and 3rd Gen). The Miata is an incredibly fun to car drive, there is no question here. As much as I love the MX5, it has its share of weaknesses in finish, character and the long term “joy” factor. In my opinion, the first generation MX5 was the best iteration so far. While it lacked in some creature comforts and overall power, it was “dialed in” as a driver’s car. The second generation car is a girl’s car (okay, maybe not the Mazdaspeed) and the third generation (what I drive now) has less soul than I had hoped for. Mazda is also very Japanese, so naturally the materials lack a certain level of “quality” to the senses. Most of all, the Miata lacks the sheer performance that I’d like to see in a new Triumph.
BMW Z4 – Great motor, ugly skin.
Before I start a rant against the Z4, I think it’s important to note that BMW presently holds the rights to the Triumph car brand (and I believe should be the company to get behind a new Triumph). The Z4 has some significant downfalls, first is the design. Both inside and out, the BMW has a very disorienting feel to it. The lines are all over the place, the dash is hideously enormous and overall it seems to be confused. What I do love about the BMW, is the inline six cylinder motor and the overall performance…this is a great car if you can forgive its face. I won’t attempt to cover the fact that I believe inline 6 cylinder motors are God’s answer to manmade music, so you can tell that I am already biased when it comes to powerplant choices.
Nissan 370Z – Distinctly Japanese and not in a good way.
The New Z car is relatively affordable and reliable, has lots of power and just as much plastic to keep you company. The Z car is best as a coupe and even then I’ve never been a big fan. Going back to my high school years, I convinced a friend of mine to buy a bright yellow 1972 240Z – now THAT was a cool car. The Z car has its share of loyalists, but it lost my attention long ago. Today’s Z car is loud, rough and finished inside with an array of ugly plastics. I’d take an RX8 over a Z car any day (and I did in 2004). Sorry, but to me, this car is the least exciting example of a sportscar…I’d sooner drive a Camaro.
American Cars – All go, no soul.
I have yet to drive any USA made sportscar that connects with the driver in the same way as the imports. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing new cars out there – like the Corvette and Mustang. These cars are loads of fun in a straight line, can hang with supercars – but there’s something missing in the overall dynamic that leaves me wanting more. On a positive note…long live the V8, I’ll always turn to it when I’m feeling the need to burnout!
Mercedes, VW and Audi – The top comes down, yay!
The SLK and TT are not driver’s cars…simple as that. I drove a brand new TT all over Bavarian country several years ago, and I had a great time. That being said, it really wasn’t the car that made the driving so much fun – it was the surroundings. TTs are aluminum clad VWs, that’s it. SLKs are lovely to look at and have an air of class about them, but they lack the connected feel you find in cars like the Miata or even the Boxster. These German greats are best left to those who want nicer leather in their “convertibles”.
Lotus Elise – Maybe too minimilist.
Now we are getting closer to the ethos and genre of the new Triumph. Lotus certainly embodies the British character and holds up to being a very basic ride. The raw “feeling” from the Lotus is probably its #1 downfall. This car is an absolute joy to drive, but it’s barely livable and hardly a daily driver. A new Triumph should tap into the spirit of the Lotus in terms of its handling, performance and connectedness between the car and driver – just add a dash of nicer trim and softer interior accommodations!
Getting There: Different Paths
The passion for reviving the Triumph brand is there, but the question of “how to get there” lingers. As naive as it may sound, I’m beginning to buy into the ideology of charging ahead purely on faith and determination. Conventional wisdom dictates that the idea is already doomed without a practical approach including business plans, forecasts, financial models, etc. Clearly a mission of passion will ultimately need financing, so I’m not entirely blind to the efforts required to make Triumph a lasting business. What I’m saying is this…a brand is never born in a boardroom even if that’s where it meets its ultimate fate. In this case, I believe the impetus to drive is more critical than the destination…in simple terms, get moving – now.
Reimagine the Triumph. More specifically, build a “new” car from the hull of an original Triumph. Much like the approach taken by Singer Vehicle Design with the Porsche 911, I’m exploring options for reimagining a Triumph using new BMW powerplants with a combination of fabricated parts, new Smiths gauges from CAI and sourced parts, etc.
Build social momentum purely based on designs, ideas, concepts and renderings from myself and hardcore enthusiasts around the world who share my passion for the Triumph car. From this momentum, BMW, investors or others come forward to join us in turning the “idea” into a reality.
Combine the ideas of Routes 1 & 2, generate excitement with the build of a real, reimagined car using the power of social media, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing. Launch a campaign to get a Triumph enthusiast growing, building and engaged using online and real-world methods.
I am entirely open to other ways of getting there…that is the ultimate goal, to make it happen.
Logo Concept: Inspiration
For inspiration, I cobbled together some logo prototypes for a new Triumph car badge. Assuming it’s a BMW product, the round logo seemed fitting. More importantly, I love the concept of integrating the heritage of the original Standard Motor Company Globe with the latter Leyland laurel wreath.