Sunday, 23 November 2008


The Herald had gone to the great parts department in the sky and we had our Vitesse.

The Vitesse was a totally different beast, it had a 2 litre straight six engine, the prop shaft, diff and rear drive shafts had been beefed up, new bonnet with double headlights and an overdrive (fifth gear). The heater was improved and gave out the equivalent of Two matches, still no power steering, still couldn’t see out the rear window, but it did have a radio.

The engine was the same as that fitted to the Triumph 2000, a large saloon that was used by the police until the 2000 PI came in.

It had two Stromberg Carbs with “dashpots” that had to be topped up with engine oil every week. The problem, with the Vitesse was the ignition circuit; it was basically the same as the Herald-points and a condenser.

But it didn’t like the damp, which wasn’t a good thing in England.

The other problem was the battery; it held enough charge to turn the engine over for about thirty seconds and then would go flat.

So if you owned a Vitesse you became very knowledgeable about the ignition. I can still remember the firing order-1, 5,3,6,2,4, and the points gap-0.012” and the plug gap-0.025”

Another problem was the brakes. It actually had discs on the front, but when you got the old girl up to speed, the stopping distance was about as short as an oil tanker.

But that wasn’t too much of a problem unless there were other cars in front of you.

We loved it, and expanded our travels, and headed north and northwest.

We found many interesting places, one of which was Henley, and spent our summer Sundays touring about, pub lunches, walks, having picnics and meeting people.

Like the Herald it was a “magnet” and attracted attention wherever we went.

It went like a rocket and was I suppose the “poor mans’” E-Type. It certainly wasn’t as pretty and it didn’t have a top speed of 150. But it would see off most of the other sports cars on the road.

We only had one “hairy” moment that was when we were on our way back from Wales; we were on a dual carriageway and had a tyre burst at about seventy. The radial tyres on the Vitesse were much better than the old cross plies on the herald, and I managed to keep her straight, but it was a “brown trouser” moment.

Winter Sundays were usually spent on maintenance; the Vitesse was a high maintenance car.

Time went on and along side the Vitesse were the Dolomite in all its forms, the 1300 FWD, and the 1500TC as well of course as the Stag.

And as we got a bit older we moved to saloons.

That really is our “first cars” story, but if you want I will continue the saga, with our “later” cars.


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