1961 Triumph Herald Convertible 948cc twin carb petrol from Australia and New Zealand


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.

1967 Triumph Herald 1200 Saloon 1.147cc (51 bhp version) from Finland


Can be easily converted to a convertible. Great car to drive on summer holidays!


Master brake cylinder broke during driving. Didn't result in an accident though. Understandable malfunction, since probably the seals haven't been changed ever.

LUCAS AC generator burned its coils. The generator wasn't the original one. Original generator was a DC generator, which was replaced because of its poor performance.

Transmission leaks oil. Engine leaks coolant and oil, not much though. Typical English feature, nothing to worry about.

Clutch system started leaking half a year ago. A month ago it leaked itself dry during one week, even though the car stood still in the garage! I've thought of replacing all seals in both master and slave cylinders. It should fix the problem.

General Comments:

Generally reliable (faults as listed above are results of lack of maintenance).

Part are surprisingly easily obtained, even here in Finland, and they really don't cost much.

Maintenance and repairs are easy to perform, thanks to much left-over space beneath the hood, which by-the-way opens the "wrong" direction WITH the wheel arches.

Warning: even though my car has been running without any major problems, the big end bearings tend to wear out in these cars. My car has had its engine restored 15 years and about 15000 km (10000 miles) ago, so that tells the reason why it runs without any problems.

All in all, the engine is almost perfectly designed: lots of low RPM torque, easily maintainable and renewable, simple design. And parts are still available.

The car has an astonishing 7,6 or 7,7 meter turning circle and no power-steering. Still, even I can operate the car (and I ain't no Hulk Hogan). The rear innermost wheel tends to tuck under the car while cornering. Since I don't have tendency to drive on the limits, that's not a problem.

Herald saloons (sedans) can be easily modified for individual need. Converting your saloon into a convertible isn't a problem. It can be done in a quarter of an hour and without cutters. Refitting is also possible with no irreversible damage done. I have my "sedan" refitted with a canvas cover.

Heralds suit even for taller men. I'm over 190 cm, and I haven't got a slightest problem, but after adjusting the seat, there just isn't room for the legs on the back seat.

Top speed is about 135 km/h (84 mph) with engine over-revving at about 5500 rpm. Needless to say, one should drive this classic British "sports" car over 60 mph.

Driving this car has been a great pleasure. Even while traveling longer distances at an average speed of 40 mph, I've never got bored. Neither have the passengers.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th November, 2002

29th Apr 2006, 09:26

With regards to converting a Triumph Herald saloon into a 'topless' model, while its true that the top can be removed very quickly by simply undoing a few bolts, it must be remembered that much of the strength of the car comes from the roof. To avoid the car breaking her back a lot of work needs to be carried out to ensure the rigidity and safety of the vehicle.

22nd Sep 2006, 07:51

The strength from a herald is in its chassis - not its roof!

19th Jul 2010, 18:16

One of the first cars I owned back in 1979 was a 1967 F reg dark blue 1200. What a car. I had trained as a mechanic and just loved sitting on the front wheel inside the bonnet area.

The engine was sweet and revvy and I just loved the sound as you went through the gears. Had to use the spare petrol tank reserve on two occasions... what a bad driver I was, as my Dad told me.

I'm sorry to say I fitted a rack of 3 none wired up gauges underneath the dash for show.. never mind, people have done worse.

Sold it to my best friend, only for a drunk driver to rear end it at 3am when park outside the house. God bless; at least it died quick.


24th Mar 2013, 08:59

The Herald has a chassis; no additional strengthening should be required when removing the roof. Anti burst door catches may want to be installed, to prevent the doors opening when cornering though.