River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Down Memory Lane

April 2015


Some time ago in the Pump I recalled the old Triumph Gloria car that I learned to drive on, and how thrilled we were when petrol became available in 1945, rationed of course, enough to do 90 miles a month.  90miles Wow!  The Triumph was described as a ‘sports saloon’, but with only 1300cc it hardly justified the word ‘sports’.  It did have a four speed box, but there was no synchromesh on any of the gears.  After I passed my test in 1948 my father was both trusting and generous and I was allowed more or less free use, within the limits of our joint demands on the petrol ration, which was now a good deal better.  As far as I recall that car never gave any serious trouble but there were numerous niggling faults, mostly electrical, partly because of the rubber insulation on the wires beginning to rot.

One particular memory that I have is illustrated by the photograph taken in 1946, it is an indication of how times have changed.  The boot of the Gloria was used as an improvised dickey seat and my younger brother and a friend can be seen seated.  Inside the car were four adults and two small children, no seat belts of course.  What might have happened with a front collision or someone running into the back one can only imagine.  I have to add that this was never attempted for a long journey, but that it was done at all now seems amazing.  In the 1920s and early 30s dickey seats were quite popular, even in 1948 the new Triumph roadster of Bergerac fame was so equipped.

In 1949 ‘Gloria’ was swapped for a 1938 Triumph Vitesse, similar in shape to the 39 Dolomite but with a more conventional radiator (although 11years old, like so many cars at that time, it had been dry stored for 6years).  This was a giant leap forward, it had an 1800cc engine, with, I think, twin SUs, and was worthy of the description as a sports saloon. There was synchromesh on third and top gears, but otherwise it was a natural development of the Gloria, still with beam axles front and rear with friction dampers, I thought it was a great car, but I doubt I would now.

Sadly we only had the Vitesse for three years before my father sold it.

The other pictures are of two popular cars that were fitted with dickey seats

Ron Watts

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