1961 Triumph Herald Convertible 948cc twin carb petrol


Nostalgia... ain't what it used to be


Bought this as a non-runner from a guy I met casually. He was fed up with it, and I think I paid $20.00 or something ridiculous. It turned out he had reassembled the points incorrectly, and at the time there was an option to join the NRMA on the spot and get immediate roadside assistance, so that's how I got it running.

Registration was another matter entirely. When it ran out and I was forced to transfer the vehicle into my name, a shopping list of faults was presented to me at the inspection, the worst being that the car was blowing too much smoke.

Over a few weekends I studied the excellent Haynes manual, bought the required tools and did the following:

Removed passenger seat for access to the gearbox. Removed gearbox. Smashed off the damaged starter ring with a hammer and cold chisel, replaced with a new ring. This was pre-heated on the gas burners in our inner-city kitchen with all four gas rings running until the starter ring was red-hot, then hurriedly transported to the car on the ends of kitchen tongs and held in place until it shrank onto the flywheel.

Removed the head, jacked up and removed the sump, took off the big end bearings, pulled pistons up through the top and replaced rings, big end bearings, valve stem seals and did a valve grind with manual grinding paste and a suction cup on the end of a piece of dowel. The valve stem seals were belted out using a mild steel drift that a local friendly engineering workshop turned up for me in a lathe for free. I still have that in my toolbox, 38 years later.

The second inspection less than a month later was funny; I got the same inspector. He thought I had put some kind of goo in the engine to stop it from smoking, and was fascinated when I explained all the work I had accomplished. Especially since it was all done on the roadside with nothing more than a 1/2" socket and bar, 1/2" and 7/16" ring spanners, and using the car's standard jack. It passed. :-)

Drove the little thing all over Sydney for about a year, and really enjoyed the removable top. We would often pull it off on a warm Sunday and drive up to the Watson's Bay Hotel for an outdoor barbecued steak and beer while watching all the yachts go by. While the rich people were arriving in their Porsches and Bimmers, I'd show up in this ratty little black-and-white Britbox. Makes me laugh to remember those days.

I could never get the twin SUs to work properly and performance was simply awful, but it was probably the most fun I ever had in a car. Because... it was the one that showed me I could do it myself.

There was a second one, a pink coupe that I intended to restore. It sat in the back lane, and the crazy lady who lived opposite kept unlocking it to let the stray cats live inside. Eventually it smelled so bad that I abandoned it.

The black-and-white car was sold to a friend called Glenn for $100.00 when I eventually got bored with it. He couldn't believe his luck, and drove off with the biggest grin I've ever seen.

General Comments:

Even for its time, this car was an awful design. Slow, poor handling, a true Noddy car in every sense.

The forward opening bonnet was always springing open unexpectedly, and no amount of adjustment could fix it.

Spartan fittings, almost no dials or gauges, and very basic seats.

Can't imagine why anyone would restore one these days; even at 10 years old they had zero value.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 31st July, 2010

6th Oct 2012, 12:35

My first street legal car was a 1969 Herald 1360 convertible. It ran like crap. I pulled the head, and reground the valves myself with paste and a suction cup. Put all back together; it would hit a ton no problem, but that was it.

Fun, and no problems except for the fuel tank lining dried up and clogged the fuel line occasionally. Took some time to figure it out. Once that was fixed, no problem, drove it southern Scotland in 1982. A cold car, but all kinds of fun. If I would have known drifting would become a sport, I would be world champ.