Released in 1959 the Triumph Herald was one of the most significant Triumphs of the post-World War II years. It changed the marque’s image with the motoring public being the first of a new generation of mass-produced saloons. However, a number of problems had to be overcome before the Herald became a reality.
The manufacturer, Standard, being the smallest of Britain’s motor car manufacturers, had to rely on outside suppliers for many components including mass-produced bodywork but the supplier of Vanguard and Mayflower bodies was bought up by BMC after Ford bought their other major body supplier.
With its previous body suppliers now controlled by competitors and problems in the boardroom at Standard the early 1950s proved a difficult time for Standard. In early 1954 long-time employee Alick Dick became the new management head and initially thought that Standard’s predicament could best be solved if a merger could be arranged with either Rover or Rootes. Although discussions were held with both companies nothing came of them.
By 1956 a replacement for the Standard Ten was being considered. The intention was to have a new car ready for the 1958 Motor Show but it was to be called a Triumph rather than a Standard. As body problems still existed it was decided that the car would have a chassis rather than a monocoque body so that the bodywork could be made in sections. In this way a variety of small body builders could be used.
To give the car consumer appeal an all-independent suspension system, almost unheard of in cheap British cars, was to be used. Standard already possessed a reliable front coil and wishbone system from the Eight and Ten which was adopted. A swing-axle arrangement was developed for the rear end. To power the car the 948 cc four-cylinder engine from the Standard Ten was modified and using a single SU carburettor developed 34 kW at 5800 rpm.
Body design provided a few problems but a chance meeting at Michelotti’s Turin studio proved invaluable and out of this came a new design that became the Triumph Herald coupe. This was followed by a two-door saloon, an estate car and finally a convertible. The name Herald came from Alick Dick’s boat. It was well priced and provided the sales which Standard needed. The association with the Italian maestro’s styling was also instrumental in helping sales of the TR sports car.