Why you’d want a Triumph 2000/2500/2.5
The firm was always a bit small to compete head-on with rivals such as BMC, and battled on with separate chassis construction for the Herald/Vitesse/Spitfire/GT6 family and the TRs long after others went monocoque, and its Standard marque was dying in the water.
Styled by Giovanni Michelotti, the 2000 was the first monocoque Triumph, replacing the Standard Vanguard with a car that was almost infinitely more modern.
It was stylish, airy, comfortable, lively, smooth, quiet, economical and handled well: an outstandingly complete package.
The six-cylinder engine was ultimately derived from the 803cc Standard Eight ‘four’, with two cylinders added and brought up to two litres of silky straight-six
The new, all-synchro four-speed gearbox, with optional overdrive, was a great step forward; other advanced features included built-in rear seatbelt mountings and generously adjustable reclining seats that could turn the interior into a passable double bed.
Dropping in the TR5’s 2.5-litre injected lump gave the car a whole new lease of life, creating an understated hot rod with 0-60mph in sub-10 secs and minimal changes required to the running gear.
A 5800rpm rev limiter was a wise addition to the long-stroke unit and well-chosen gearing gave a 111mph maximum in direct top, but easy 100mph cruising in overdrive.
Thicker brake discs and 185x13 tyres on 5J wheels were all that was needed to cope with the extra power. An automatic transmission and the estate body were offered with the PI, though rarely seen now.
Michelotti was also responsible for the 1969 Mk2, which gave the car an impressive new look, with longer bonnet and tail (except the estate), new seat material and switchgear, and power steering: a formula that helped the car stay on sale until 1977.
New column switches including a ‘flick-wipe’ facility were particularly modern, and a front seatbelt warning light (with pressure switches in the seats) was added by 1974.
Sadly, the PI’s Lucas fuel injection caused too many warranty issues and was replaced by the 2500S in 1975 with two big SUs, a hotter cam, 14in wheels and (at last) a viscous fan.
Rust is the main challenge today, and it can take time to find an original example because many parts were swapped around to keep cars going when they were worth little.
Images: James Mann
Triumph 2000/2500/2.5: what to look for
See above for trouble spots
The Triumph straight-six is a sturdy and dependable engine, shared with several other models and for which all parts are still available.
Look out for overheating from a silted-up radiator, misfires caused by burnt exhaust valves (the valve seats erode as a result of modern unleaded fuels) and general signs of wear.
Engines are prone to worn crankshaft thrust washers, wrecking the crank/block. Check the pulley movement when the clutch is pressed (or lever it on autos).
One of the trickier rot spots to repair is under the rear seat, above the trailing-arm mounts: inspect the whole body carefully, from inside and out.
Check for clunky, worn driveshaft splines and a noisy, leaky rear diff. Suspension bushes weaken with age and oil leaks, so check both the front and the rear.
Early vinyl trim is durable; the later nylon is not, but both can be replaced. Instruments and switchgear can be hard to find, especially for early cars.
Triumph 2000/2500/2.5: before you buy
All Triumph straight-sixes should start readily hot or cold, though poor hot starting and rough running at tickover were noted PI weaknesses when they were new.
Fuel injection was in its infancy at the time, but they can now be made to run much more efficiently. Experience is the key, and there’s plenty of knowledge among the clubs and at specialists, so make use of that and a PI can be a joy to own.
The crank end-float is the only inherent weakness of this engine – catch it early and the thrusts can be replaced in situ, but bad cases can wreck both the block and crankshaft. Otherwise look out for general engine wear and signs of overheating from silted-up radiators and water passages: all parts are available for a rebuild.
The all-synchromesh TR manual gearbox is robust, with optional overdrive on third and top to give much more relaxed motorway cruising. The Borg-Warner 35 automatic is also relatively understressed, lasts well and neither transmission is expensive to rebuild.
Check the differential for oil leaks and the driveshaft splines for clonks. Driven hard, especially in the higher-powered models, they can stick under torque and cause disconcerting wiggles from the back end between power on and off. There are solutions to this using Datsun driveshafts if it bothers you, but in normal driving you’ll never notice it.
The brakes are perfectly adequate if well maintained, with decent-sized discs up front and 1.75in-wide shoes in the rear drums.
Triumph 2000/2500/2.5 price guide
- 2000 Mk2: £1500/4000/10,000
- 2500: £1500/4500/11,000
- 2000 Mk1: £1750/5000/14,000
- 2.5 PI Mk2: £2500/6000/15,000
- 2.5 PI Mk1: £3000/8000/20,000
*Estates 15-20% more
Prices correct at date of original publication
Triumph 2000/2500/2.5 history
1963 Oct 2000 launched at Earls Court: first production cars tested by STI employees
1964 Jan Customer deliveries begin
1964 Oct Detail improvements such as front seats, parcel shelf, anti-reflection dashboard
1965 Oct Estate added: stiffer rear springs
1966 Oct Improved fresh-air ventilation, new badging, rubber-faced overriders, more seat padding, black instruments, optional leather
1968 Oct 2.5 PI added (9029 Mk1s built)
1969 Oct Mk2: longer, wider rear track, softer ride, nylon trim, new dash, alternator
1974 May Facelift: plastic grille, 2500TC added (2.5 with twin Strombergs, 99bhp)
1975 Aug 2500S replaces PI: twin SUs, hotter cam, viscous fan, standard overdrive, anti-roll bar and power steering
1977 Production ends
The owner’s view
Lifelong classic enthusiast Pete Watson converted to 2000s from Rover P4s in 1982.
“The P4s were a bit heavy and juicy,” he recalls. “I’ve had about 20 2000s, including a Mk1 PI Estate and the works prototype V8.
“I was on the Register committee when this car came up in 1988, stored in the original owner’s Ealing town house. We held a sealed-bid auction and I won.
“It was an absolute timewarp, covered in books in the garage, on its original C41 tyres with 14,720 miles from new. I took some fuel and a battery, blew up the tyres and drove it home.
“There was a bit of a misfire – one valve had stuck and bent the pushrod – but I freed it, straightened the pushrod and it ran perfectly. I just wish I’d thought to keep the original Stanpart weights when I put new tyres on. It drives well, but most of all I enjoy preserving it.”
The E3 ‘New Six’ started out as a 2.5-litre, with sharp handling, attractive styling (that Michelotti also had a hand in) and the new M30 engine making it a desirable find today, albeit rare in the UK.
Sold 1968-’77 • No. built 137,455 • Price now £6-20,000*
Built over the same period as the Triumph in similar numbers by, ultimately, the same firm. Clever central structure, aerodynamic body, the V8s flew and the ‘fours’ were lively, but rust-prone.
Sold 1963-’77 • No. built 322,302 • Price now £2500-10,000*
*Prices correct at date of original publication
Triumph 2000/2500/2.5: the Classic & Sports Car verdict
Stylish and highly practical, the ‘big saloon’ 2000 range was ahead of its time in many ways and still has a lot to offer for a very reasonable outlay, especially if you don’t have your heart set on the Holy Grail Mk1 2.5 PI.
If you prefer automatics then the Borg-Warner 35 is a good one, while the manual with overdrive cruises with modern traffic.
Just don’t buy a rusty one, because it’ll cost more to restore than it will be worth unless you do it all yourself.
- A very usable classic saloon
- Parts supply is great
- It has competition potential
- There are no significant mechanical weaknesses
- Rust is the big challenge, along with the chopping and changing of parts while the cars were cheap – trying to put a rusty or modified car back to original is expensive and time-consuming
Triumph 2000/2500/2.5 specifications
- Sold/number built 1963-’77/316,653
- Construction steel monocoque
- Engine all-iron, ohv 1998/2498cc ‘six’, twin Stromberg 150CD/SU HS6 carbs or Lucas mechanical injection
- Max power 90bhp @ 5000rpm to 132bhp @ 5450rpm
- Max torque 117lb ft @ 2900rpm to 153lb ft @ 2000rpm
- Transmission four-speed manual, optional overdrive, or three-speed BW auto, RWD
- Suspension independent, at front by MacPherson struts (anti-roll bar on 2500S) rear semi-trailing arms, telescopic dampers, coil springs
- Steering rack and pinion, optional power assistance
- Brakes discs front, drums rear, with servo
- Length 14ft 6¼in-15ft 3in (4425-4650mm)
- Width 5ft 5-6in (16501675mm)
- Height 4ft 8¼-7¾in (1430-1415mm)
- Wheelbase 8ft 10½in (2705mm)
- Weight 2510-2954lb (1141-1340kg)
- 0-60mph 15.2-9.7 secs
- Top speed 92-111mph
- Mpg 21-32
- Price new £1448-1916 (1970)