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Findings: Triumph Italia 2000 Vignale

If you haven't seen the movie The sweet life, by Federico Fellini, it is very possible that you think that its protagonist, played by Marcello Mastroianni, drives an Italian spider; an Alfa Giulietta, or a Lancia B24, perhaps. But no, for some strange reason the actor travels in a Triumph TR3A, one of the least elegant English sports cars of the 50s.

The first postwar Triumph sports prototype, the TR1, was so criticized during its 1952 London Motor Show presentation that it did not go beyond that state. Its appearance and handling were frankly improvable, and the brand had to polish it for Geneva, where it presented the TR2.

This time, it was the first car of the well-known saga of sportscars famous for their strength and good behavior, which throughout the decade would contest rallies and endurance races with great success. Later, in 1955, the TR3 would arrive.

Triumph TR3A
Triumph TR3A, model that Mastroianni drove in «La Dolce Vita» (For dawarwickphotography)

However, not all Italians were as convinced of the lines of the early TRs as the lord Mastroianni. Specifically, one of those dissidents was the Triumph distributor in the transalpine country, Salvatore Ruffino, who came up with the idea of ​​producing a series of machines with national signature artisan bodywork.

To shape the project, Ruffino hired Vignale, who in turn sought out Giovanni Michelotti, the talented and prolific designer from Turin, who in 1959 would lead to the establishment that bore his name, Carrozeria Michelotti.

The Triumph Italia 2000 was one of the orders it received at the time, later presented at the 1958 Turin Motor Show. The Italian dealer believed that it could sell 1.000 of these elegant coupes, mainly in its country and in the United States, and Triumph was agree to support your initiative and to provide the backstage. So, at first, everything looked good.

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The Italia 2000 looks like an Italian GT from the fifties to scale (For Rex Gray)

Triumph Italia: Die of Success

Michelotti certainly did a good job; maybe too much. Italians are really beautiful and, on a smaller scale, reminiscent of the Italian GTs of their time - especially the Maserati 3500. The interior was also intended to resemble that of these incredible cars, comfortable and with taste, thousands of kilometers away from the cut doors and plastic windows of the original English design.

If you look closely at an Italy you can see the predecessor of the TR4, and this is where Ruffino's plan began to fail. Triumph was so impressed by Michelotti's work that it commissioned him to design its new line of sports cars, which would be produced between 1959 and 1970.

The problem was simply that the order for the English brand included the TR4. Larger and more sophisticated than the TR3, in 1962 it would burst into the territory of Italia, which from then on would be seen by Triumph as an unwanted competition although it was sold for a price 25% more expensive than that of their cars.

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At least one of the few Italy manufactured arrived in Spain

He therefore withdrew his support for the Italian distributor's project, forcing him to rethink it. Finally, only 329 units of Italy would be built in 2000 between 1959 and 1962, which were bought, as planned, by fans of the continent and the US The company that finally materialized Michelotti's ideas was Vignale -as the name of the model and the de rigueur plates on the body-, and only eight copies had a right-hand drive.

A Spanish unit

The sports coupe that we bring to these web pages today has been a forgotten anecdote in Triumph's history until recently, although it is currently undergoing expensive restorations that consequently raise its value. Thus, for example, in the United Kingdom there is a unit for sale for 100.000 euros.

As you can appreciate It is a Spanish car, so at least one Italy, the # 30, made it to the skin of a bull. We have found it in a Madrid garage, with its Triumph Powder Blue paint and navy blue interiors, in need of a complete restoration.

Little is known of its history, except that it was originally registered in Madrid; however, given the constraints of the domestic auto market at the time, it probably came from good hands.

It has only a few kilometers, although it has been a long, long time since they have taken it out for a walk. It is complete and, above all, it does not appear to have been disassembled in order to rejuvenate it, something important in vintage short-run artisan vehicles that, like this one, assemble a large number of special, not to say unique, components.

What do you think?

Martin Horrocks

Written by Martin Horrocks

My name is Martin Horrocks. Since I came to live in Madrid in 2006, enjoying my passion with the rest of the fans is what has best helped me to integrate into Spanish society. Day by day I drive a Fiat Panda 100hp, an exciting and fun car, although I also have a ... View all

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