COAL #13: 1966 Triumph 2000 – The Masterly New Triumph 2000


Early 80s, my father bought a Triumph 2500TC – a Mark Two saloon. I loved that car, was the first car I could legally drive in. This car led me to buy my own 2000 Mk2 ten years later – described in COAL #7. Any Triumph “big saloon” was pretty rare in the Netherlands.


When my father had the Triumph 2500TC, I went (by train or bike) to a few Triumph meetings. Here I had a first close look at a Mark One Saloon, and also a Mk1 Wagon.


Some time later, I came across one “in the wild”, a real Curbside Classic! I cycled home to get a camera and take pictures.


AA plate means it is owned by the Dutch Royal family. Queen Juliana at the wheel.


When I was a student (mid 80s), I drove a Citroen 2CV and later Sunbeam Imp. Going for parts in a scrapyard I saw a white Triumph 2000 Mk1 on the forecourt. What the hell? I had only ever once before seen a Mk1 on the road and here was the second one, waiting to be scrapped! It was a genuine delivered new in the Netherlands car, very rare. I could not stand that it would be scrapped so I bought it just to save if from that fate. Towed it home, I then discovered the cilinder head was detached and lying in the boot. The doors were rusted through. I really had no place and money for it and sold it on to a fellow student who promised to restore it. I lost contact so who knows.


Green Mk1


Publicity picture. AEC was a truck brand owned by Leyland Motors who also owned Triumph. This was before the big merger with BMC (Austin/Morris etc).


During the 90s I owned a 2000 Mk2. It was a great car, but this led me to appreciate the Mk1 even more. If there ever would be one for sale… In the year 2000(!), I saw an advertisement for a 2000 Mk1. As mentioned before, a Dutch Mk1 was a real rarity. They never sold well here, too expensive because of the high UK pound in the late sixties. I only had seen these at Triumph meetings and then only a handful. A club registrar told me less than 20 cars were sold new.


Triumph 2000 as advertised


So I contacted the owner and made an appointment. Car looked splendid in its four or five year old two tone paint. The owner assured me the car did not have rust problems when the car was painted, the repaint was done because the paint had become flat and there were little dents and scratches and so on. More changes had been done. Usually I am not in favor of modern wheels on an old car (especially hate Minilites), but have to admit the 15” Revolutions look pretty good with their 5 black spokes and polished rims. Wider tires than normal were fitted but also meant the steering got a lot heavier (power steering was a very rarely selected option in the Netherlands at the time).


At a classic car meeting. A friend’s Humber Sceptre behind my car


This was emphasized even more by the smaller sports steering wheel. Car was also lowered a little by having different springs, SU HIF carburettors replaced the SU H4 carbs, a hand made exhaust spaghetti manifold, bigger inlet valves and hardened valve seats to the cilinder head, a faster cam and the stainless steel exhaust system had a bigger diameter. Overdrive was fitted with the sliding knob on the gear lever. The rear wheel suspension was from a Mk2 meaning the track was a little wider. Interior was a very nice black fabric cloth from a Mk2. Green tinted glass (Sundym) was fitted all round (from a 1975 2500S, the top version of the very last of the Big Saloons). Bumpers were without the overriders.


My Commer Imp van on the left


While I was not in favor to all of these changes, I struck a deal because it was rare to find a Mk1, especially one in a good condition.

I made some changes to the car myself – refitted overriders and the original big steering wheel, fitted a tow bar and installed a LPG system.


South of France

The next three years this Mk1 was used daily. For two years it towed our caravan (a 1971 Constructam) to the south of France.


I loved it, it looked special, was fast enough for the modern traffic, the only one ever on the road, and much more comfortable than “sporty” new cars. I was the only one in the company who did not want a new company lease car but instead choose to have a bit more money so that I could drive my classic instead of a new car.


My daughter trying to break in


Driving the Mk1, one notices a more 60s feeling compared to driving a Mk2. On the other hand it has the same smooth 6 inline engine and direct gear change with overdrive. It is a lovely car to drive, relatively fast at the time. It still gives the impression of being fast which of course is just a sense. One of the things I like so much driving a classic car – you do not have to go really fast to enjoy driving.


Triumph made sure the people knew the new 2000 had independent rear suspension, pretty special at the time (1963)


The faster-going add-ons from the previous owner did not last long. The special exhaust manifold rusted, and properly rusted away only after a year. It should have been made from stainless steel, not normal steel. The cilinder head with enlarged valves also did not last. The engine gained the symptoms of a head gasket fail – a missing cilinder, white smoke from the exhaust. Removing the head did not make it clear what the cause was. I took the head to a specialist, he pressurised it and said there was an internal leakage. The enlarged inlet tracks had been enlarged a bit too much, a crack had appeared in the wall between the inlet track and the water ways. As it was inside the head, repair was not possible.

I found a second hand head and fitted this to the car. The power was a bit down, I could feel that. As the engine ran on LPG, the valves needed more frequent adjustment. Because I used the car much I had to adjust the valves every other week! I could tell when this was needed because the engine would start to run a little rough – not as smooth as it should do. Of course this would not last forever so I took off the cilinder head again and had hardened valve seats inserted. This was the solution to the problem. Luckily in a Triumph Saloon, valve adjustment is very easy and so is replacing the cilinder head.

Apart from these engine problems, which were mostly due to the efforts of the previous owner, there were no mechanical problems.

They can rust


After three years rust spots appeared on the rear wheel arches of my Mk1. I took the plunge and scraped away the paint / rust and also, unexpected, big chunks of bondo. Horrible news! The rear wheel arches were very bad and had not been properly repaired with metal before the car was painted. These wheel arches are a known bad spot on these big saloons, and difficult to repair. Inner wings are welded to the outer wings at the wheel arch flange, and often rust attacks both inner and outer wing panels. Which means repairing inner wings and outer wings.

At that time, and probably a long time before, no repair panels were available. No repair panels meant no repair because these wheelarches have a nice but complicated 3D shape – not something you could bang up yourself.


I did not want to fork out much money to a body sculptor so took it to the barn and stored it. I hated myself for falling into the trap of trusting a seller when I bought the car. The seller was a prominent person in the Triumph community, he was ending his hobby and sold his beloved Triumph. I did not expect someone like he would not tell the truth – a hard lesson for me. My fault, I should have inspected it better. Despite the hard to repair rust, I could not bring myself to get rid of the car as it is such a unique car. It just had to wait for better times.


American publicity picture. Whitewalls and bumper guard.


A couple of years ago someone from the UK club started to make panels again, inner and outer wings. They were expensive but I made sure I bought all the panels I am going to need to bring back the car in good condition.


Taken in 1979. Not bad for a 13 year old car.


A few years ago I got in contact of a fellow Triumph enthusiast who’s grandfather owned my car from 1978-83. He was the second owner. Pictures are from 1979. I am the 6th owner, knowing 3 of the previous owners.


White Mk1


When I drove my Mk1, my brother admired it and also went out looking for one. Amazingly a few months later he actually found one. Clearly he was more successful in finding them as I had been looking for one for years!


Mid nineties


Mid nineties


When he showed me the car I recognized it, it was the car I had rescued from the scrapyard nearly 20 years before! The car was fairly original, the doors had been repaired, there was a little rust here and there. He used it for a couple of years, then moved it into the barn where it still resides. His plan is to restore it, some day.

Both cars stored in the barn. Note that my car has the later, rubber faced overriders.


Ten years ago I spoke to an old friend which lived near me around the time I rescued the white car from the crusher. When I told him about that scrapyard rescue thirty years before, it turned out HE also was a previous owner of that same car! He had sold it when the engine dropped a valve. Presumably the new owner must have taken it to the scrapyard. It is a small Triumph world here in the Netherlands.


An extensive history of the Triumph 2000 can be found online here: