The Triumph 2000 is a significant British classic for two compelling reasons. It was the last of the independently produced Triumphs and it was a blend of Italian and British design, a cocktail that either ends in greatness or disaster. The Triumph sits somewhere in between. While many were claimed by rot over the years, those that remained represent a great value everyday classic, boasting attractive styling and useful practicality.
Designs for the 2000 were being drawn up as early as 1944 when Triumph first decided to produce a saloon and roadster that used similar running gear and powertrains. Following Standard's purchase of the company in the Forties, the 2000 was intended be the backbone of its range. The car was launched at the London Motor Show in 1963, winning instant fans thanks to its Giovanni Michelotti-penned body and impressive comfort. This set the recipe for the 2000's long and fruitful shelf-life, only retiring in 1977.
With the 2000, the trick is to find the most solid example available. While it’s easy to get misty eyed about a rust-addled project car and all the nights you can spend tinkering in the shed, the reality is rather more brutal. The 2000 loves rust, and once it has set in you could be looking at a new shell. It’s best to pay more up front and spend less putting it right later on. The body is double-skinned, which makes restoration difficult and eye-wateringly pricey. If, say, the sills have rotted away, you’ll have to remove multiple body sections to get anywhere near the offending item. The sills themselves are a three-part construction, meaning rust can quickly spread to the floor and outriggers. Putting it right can easily cost into the thousands. Inspect the sills closely, as well as the A-pillar, drag struts and the suspension mounts. Drain hole blockages are also a common cause of rust, so check them thoroughly, as well as the wheel-arches, rear valences and the bottom of the doors. Lift up the carpets in the cabin and the boot for evidence of moisture and corrosion, and check the front wing seams for signs of rust too. Finally, have a look at the quality of the shut-lines on either side, as well as the alignment of the front-hinged bonnet, which can easily fall out of place and can be a pain to re-align. This will tell you a good deal about the overall condition of the car. Replacement panels can be difficult to get hold of, so bear this in mind before you buy a project car.
The straight-six is a reliable unit and should be good for up to 100,000 miles before a rebuild is necessary. Triumph used the engine in the Vitesse and GT6, so most major issues had already been ironed out. However there are a few niggles to be aware of. Like most Triumph engines, crankshaft end float can prove troublesome, especially with manual cars. Inspect the front pulley for play if there’s someone on hand to depress the clutch. If there’s a lot of play then the thrust washers could fall out. A rumbling sound from the bottom end is a common foible. Replacement shells can still be fitted with the engine in place. It’s worth replacing the canister oil filter with a screw-on variant, while you should also look out for any head gasket problems. Also be aware that there were a few differences between the manual and automatic powertrains - most notably that they were fitted with different camshafts.
The transmission should be as bullet-proof as the engine, but naturally some issues can occur. There’s nothing specific to worry about, but listen out for tell-tale signs like loud whining and gears jumping out on manual cars and thumping noises on the autos. Bear in mind that the latter will never be as smooth as more modern automatics, but it should perform fault-free. Also note that many auto cars have been turned into manuals over the years, so ensure the car was a manual from new. A simple way of finding out is by examining the body plate. It should begin with the letters BW (Borg Warner) on auto cars.
There are no major issues with the suspension on the 2000. Like the powertrain it was used on a lot of other Triumphs - such as the Stag and the TR4 - and is simple to work on. Check for general signs of negligence and damage by getting under the car and having a poke around. You should also feel for loose steering during the test drive. The only common issue is the rear bearing which needs an exchange hub.
Inspect the condition of the wiring. Insulation and connectors could be tired and require replacements. On early cars, check if the dynamo has been replaced by an alternator, a useful fix.
The 2000 is an everyday car and the cabin often reflects this. Don’t expect pristine interiors but if the trim and materials have worn badly it can be tricky to replace. If the wood veneer is in poor condition then you can always strip it off the teak base, then lacquer and polish it. While cloth-trimmed cars are especially susceptible to wear and UV damage, they can be re-trimmed. Bear in mind that sourcing original materials is difficult. The most crucial thing to look out for is any missing trim, as it can be nigh-on impossible to replace.
The 2000 drives exactly as you’d expect of a mid-sized family saloon or estate. Inside it’s spacious and practical, while the ride is smooth and controlled. It’s never going to set the b-roads alight with its performance, but it’s an excellent long-distance cruiser and is extremely refined during everyday use. The steering and manual gearbox should be well-weighted and smooth. If there is excess play in the steering then there’s almost certainly an issue. Performance was never startling - even in 1963 - so don’t expect it to be an overtaking machine. Nevertheless the shove should be ample, especially for recreational purposes.
The first thing that will strike you when you browse the classifieds is how few 2000’s there are on the market. It is a sad demonstration of how severe rust issues were back in the Sixties and Seventies. Nevertheless, there are cars out there if you look hard enough, and at a surprisingly modest price. While the 2000 shares much with its more illustrious brothers (Stag, TR4 we’re looking at you), values haven’t risen to match. You can pick up a project car for around £2,000, while a more tidy example will set you back £3,000 -£4,000. You can pick up a 2000 in great condition for around £5,000 to £6,000, while immaculately restored and modified examples command up to £8,000. If you’re after an estate then be prepared to pay a hefty premium over the saloon. There aren’t many around, and those that are start at around £5,000, with good examples going for as much as £7,000.
Beware of the project car. While it may look tempting to pick up a 2000 for peanuts with the hope of restoring it, you can easily spend double the money putting it right. Rotten sills can cost you over a grand per side, while interior trim replacements and upholstery can be pricey. Spend more and you’re almost guaranteed to save more over the course of ownership.
If you’re after a comfortable and attractive classic to use every day or to ferry the family around in occasionally, the Triumph 2000 is a tremendous entry-point into classic motoring. If you find a (relatively) rust-free example you can enjoy a classic Triumph without spending big bucks for the privilege.
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