Model Page

Triumph Vitesse 6

Triumph Vitesse Side

Production Run:


Production Date:

1962 - 1966


Triumph 1.6 Straight Six


Coventry (UK)


17.5 Secs

Max Speed:

89 Mph

The Triumph Vitesse 6 was a two door, four seat, rear wheel drive sports saloon car that was a development of the highly successful but less exotic four cylinder Triumph Herald. Introduced by Triumph on 25th May 1962 the car enjoyed a relatively short production run up until 1966 when it was replaced with the Vitesse 2 Litre.

In the late fifties early sixties Triumph were buoyant and flushed with their success of the newly introduced Herald began development of a range of prototypes based on the platform. At the same time a new two litre six cylinder engine based on the overhead valve inline four cylinder 1,296cc unit powering the Herald was being developed, it was logical that these two development programmes were brought together and so the two litre engine was somehow installed into a reworked Herald chassis. The concept found approval within Triumph management and the project to turn the prototype into a production reality was approved.

It was anticipated that the new vehicle would have modest sales but the development and reworking required on the Herald platform to bring the car to mass production was considered low and therefore the company could expect a healthy profit on each sale. The Herald platform was central to Triumphs operation at this time and would be used as a platform for the Vitesse, GT6 and Spitfire for many years to come. Triumph christened the new vehicle the “Vitesse”, this was not the first time that Triumph had used this name having previously been assigned to a car built between 1936 and 1938.

Triumph turned towards Italian stylist Giovanni Michelotti for styling of the new vehicle, he managed to create a style that was easily distinguishable from the Herald but shared the majority of body panels with its cousin. The striking two door design that was produced is easily recognizable by the vehicles front end that sported four headlamp mounted at angles, this has been compared to a slanted “Chinese Eye” design. Further revisions included the installation of a stainless steel side trim and anodised alloy bumper caps that replaced the white rubber caps as fitted to the Herald.

The Triumph Vitesse was only made available as a Saloon or Convertible, the decision not to offer the vehicle as with a coupe body style was due to lack of demand for the Herald coupe that was already in production. The Herald upon which the Vitessse was based was essentially an obsolete design when introduced, Triumph were forced to use the traditional construction method of separate chassis and bolt on body tub due to supply issues with monocoque body shells.

Usual supplier Fisher & Ludlow would no longer supply Triumph with car bodies since their take over by BMC, Triumph approached Pressed Steel with the view to them manufacturing monocoque body tubs but they had no spare capacity to play with. The only option left was to use a separate chassis onto which fitted body panels would be fitted, these body panels could be manufactured by smaller manufacturers.

The vehicle received a four speed manual gearbox with optional Laycock De Normanville ‘D-Type’ overdrive unit albeit a strengthened version of the gearbox when compared with that fitted to the Herald. Braking performance was up-rated in line with the additional power the 1.6 engine provided, fitted with servo assisted discs at the front and larger drums at the rear – a big improvement on the drums all round fitted to the Herald. Similar to the Herald and unusual at the time the car came equipped with independent front and rear suspension with coil springs at the front and swing axle suspension at the rear, for use in the Vitesse the front coil spring were upgraded being replaced with firmer units to cope with the additional weight of the six cylinder engine.

At the heart of the Triumph Vitesse was a six cylinder high performance derivative of the four cylinder four cylinder engine used in the Herald. Between 1962 and 1966 the Vitesse 1600 was in production, this vehicle was powered by a modified 1,596cc version of Triumph’s straight six overhead valve engine that had been used in the Standard Vanguard Six. The original engine had a bore of 74.7mm when equipped in the Vanguard but for the new application the engine had a smaller bore of only 66.75mm. The engine had a compression ratio of 8.8:1 and was initially fuelled through twin Solex B32PIH semi-downdraught carburettors although these were later replaced by Solex B321H carburettors as problems materialised with accelerator pumps. The engine developed 70 bhp @ 5,000 rpm and 92 lb/ft @ 2,800 rpm which at the time was considered more than adequate providing the car with a top speed of 89 mph and powered the car from 0-60 in 17.5 seconds.

Passengers were provided with a much improved interior that was certainly head and shoulder above that featured in the Herald, featuring a wooden dashboard and wooden door cappings and upgraded material for the interior and seats. Optionally owners could opt for a Webasto sunroof on saloon models.

The vehicle received a minor reworking and post September 1965 all cars were fitted with twin Zenith Stromberg CD 150 Carburettors replacing the original Solex carbs, Triumph claimed that power increased by 13 bhp giving the car a new top speed of 91 mph and a slightly improved 0-60 dash time. The interior also benefited at this time from a revised dashboard with comprehensive instrumentation replacing the singled large Herald derived instrument complex.

Production of the Triumph Vitesse 6 was ceased in 1966 when Triumph discontinued the model replacing it with the Triumph Vitesse 2 litre in response to stiffer competition from other manufacturers. By this time 31,261 vehicles had been produced of these 22,814 were saloons the remaining 8,447 convertibles. These cars remain popular even today thanks to a dedicated band of supporters and clubs dedicated to the vehicle, parts supply is good allowing owners to keep the cars on the road.

The Facts


Triumph 1.6 Straight Six





Compression Ratio:


Fuel System:

2 x Solex B32PIH Carburettors

2 x Solex B321H Carburettors

Maximum Power:

70 bhp @5,000 rpm

Maximum Torque: @ 2,800 rpm


Triumph 4 Speed Manual with optional Laycock De Normanville Overdrive


Top Gear:



Front Solid Discs / Rear Drums

Kerb Weight:

909 Kg

Max Speed:

Pre Sept '65 - 89 Mph

Post Sept '65 - 91 Mph


17.5 Secs