Monday, March 30, 2009

The Mighty Vanguard.

This extremely well restored series 2 Vanguard belongs to a former Nagari owner who lives on the Gold Coast. How he came to "progress" from a Bolwell to a Standard Vanguard is unclear but there are others who have advanced the opposite way, myself included. My first encounter with the Vanguard was when I was a member of the TSOA in the 60s. When a young woman I knew rolled my 100/4 Healey (with me in it) I replaced it with a TR2. Many people are amazed when I say I had no regrets in moving from such a beautiful car to one considered less so but in my opinion the TR handled better and had a better turn of speed - so there! Anyway, I joined the TSOA which I found to be a very motorsport oriented club (as were most of the sportscar clubs back then - and the rivalry among them was huge). Most of the TR2, TR3 and TR3A owners in the club seemed to have a humpy Vanguard as their everyday car. Both the TR and the Morgan Plus 4 (and the Ferguson tractor as Garry Warren liked to point out when he bought his Fergie) used a derivative of the Standard Vanguard motor which was a four cylinder, but quite a big one (about the size of a grey Holden 6). So apart from being excellent tow cars, they were handy for nicking the odd bit from to keep the Triumph going. I heard Ron Westren enthusing recently about this although I'm sure he was a member of the MGCC at the time - When the very first 6 hour relay race was proposed at Winton, the guys in the TSOA-SA decided to enter a team of Vanguards, just for a bit of fun. Anyway, they subsequently went on to win the whole thing.
The Standard and Triumph gearboxes to me are quite distinctive and have a really nice feel to them. I continued to have the odd Vanguard right up to the six cylinder, four speed version (forerunner to the Triumph 2000) we had as a family car at the same time as the Mark 5. When I lost patience with the 3 speed Holden box I bought a gearbox from a TR3A which, with the electric overdrive unit on the back of it meant that the tailshaft had to be only about 6 inches long. Also with the normal Triumph remote control unit it would mean reaching into the back to change gear. Even shortening it to the max still wasn't quite good enough. Vanguard to the rescue. The gearchange went straight into the top of the box so it was just a matter of bolting the gearbox top on and cutting off the big long bent gearstick which would have touched the roof.


John L said...

Tony Briton writes:-
Good to see my mate's Vanguard take its place among the blog.
It's interesting to see how we have all over the years had things in common.
The old man had a Trumpy 2000MD with wire wheels - it was maroon in colour as the Brits would say - a rather nice vehicle with an overdrive gearbox. Its only problem being that other persons used to like carving the paintwork on the roof - a rather costly habit.
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

actually TSOA-SA entered two teams each of three Phase 1 Vanguards in the '68 Winton 6 Hour ( I was in one of them). We didn't win it but did lead for about 3 hours partly due to our 24 lap handicap and the fact that it rained for several hours which slowed the competition but didn't affect us much. All 6 of our cars had OD gearboxes (the "big" Laycock OD which gave 30% reduction, rather than the 22% (I think) reduction in the TR OD 'boxes. I later put that gearbox in my Phase 3 (which I still have, partly rebuilt, and which I'll finish one of these days).
On another Vanguard matter, does anyone know anything about the late Phase 3 4 cyl Vanguard engine numbers which have GA prefix engine numbers? Mine is GA9985. Nearly all are prefix V with up to 6 numbers. No-one seems to know about the GA engines.