Thursday, August 27, 2009

1975 Triumph Dolomite Sprint - LHD!

A few years ago a friend and I played a game of "Did You See The Dolomite Today?" There was a white Triumph Dolomite Sprint running around the area where I live. My friend would often see it in the morning on her way to work. I would often see it in the afternoon driving past my business. Neither of us got close enough to the car to stop and talk to the driver. This went on for a few months and then the car disappeared. It is still the one and only Dolomite I have ever seen in the flesh.

I never understood why BL didn't send this car to the US. We loved British roadsters. We loved Jaguars and other high end British sedans. What we didn't like were BL's cheap sedans. The Morris Minor, Mini, Austin America, Austin Marina, etc., etc., never sold well in this country. The Dolomite Sprint was a car that drove like a sports car (or at least a very, very good sports sedan), was a giant step up from the Austins and Morris' and would have been a lot cheaper than a Jaguar.

The RWD Dolomite has a convoluted and confusing history. It's history goes back to 1965 and the FWD Triumph 1300. In the late 60s Triumph built what was essentially a RWD 1300 and called it the Toledo. At the same time the 1300 (still FWD) became the 1500. The Dolomite was introduced in 1971 and used the longer bodyshell of the FWD Triumph 1500, but with the majority of the running gear from the RWD Triumph Toledo. The Dolomite had an 1850 cc engine.

The Dolomite Sprint was introduced in 1972. Triumph dropped a 16 valve head on the block (the same block used later in the TR7) and increased its displacement to 1998 ccs. Alloy wheels, a lowered suspension, tuned exhaust and some trim items also differentiated the Sprint from the standard Dolomite.

The Dolomite Sprint was built to compete with the BMW 2002 and in virtually every way it did. 0-60 took 8.4 seconds and it had a top speed of 120 MPH. In the UK the Dolomite Sprint sold for £1000 less than the BMW 2002 Tii.

Like so many of the 1970s BL cars, the Dolomite was not the most reliable vehicle you could buy. That may be what caused BL not to send the car to the US. (But then again, maybe not... BL sent us the Austin Marina and that car was not exactly known for its reliability.)

I have always wanted a Dolomite Sprint. The one I used to see was RHD. Others that I've read about being in the US are also RHD. What makes this car really appealing is that it's a very rare LHD model.

This car is in Germany. The text of the ad is in German (no real surprise there), but from what I can figure out this is a complete, running, 65,000 mile car that needs some minor interior work and maybe some paint. The asking price is €5,500, which in US dollars is somewhere in the neighborhood of $7800.00. That's not cheap, but then again, it is left-hand drive.

With shipping to the US and all the paperwork involved, the total price of this car could be well over $10,000.00. To me, that's still a bargain.

Click here to see the listing for this 1975 Dolomite Sprint.

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