THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1949 Triumph 2000 Roadster owned by Earl Gandel
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
Founded in 1885, Britain’s Triumph made its name selling bicycles, motorcycles and cars in the early part of the 20th Century. But when World War II rolled around, the company was nearly dead. It was revived in 1944 by auto executive Sir John Black, who wanted to make sports cars to compete against Jaguar’s new postwar models. And, thus, the 2000 was born in 1946.
“It’s very rare,” Gandel says of his roadster, “especially in the U.S., where it was never imported. It predated the famous Triumph TR2 and TR3, with the same basic engine.”
Triumph legend has it that the cars were made from aluminum because there was plenty of leftover stock from aircraft manufacturing at a time when sheet steel was in very short supply. Critics cited the Roadster for its slow acceleration and after Black left the company in 1949, the 2000 was no more. According to Hemmings, the auto enthusiast magazine, there were 4,500 Roadsters built, with the Triumph Roadster Club estimating that only 1,000 have survived. BMW currently owns the Triumph brand and rumors circulated last year that the company might be thinking about putting the name on a new sports car.
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
Gandel has owned the car for two years.
WHERE HE FOUND IT
He bought it from a good friend who had owned it for the previous 11 years. They had gone together to the UK to pick up the car in 2001.
“The body and interior are in almost original condition,” Gandel says. “The engine, running gear and chassis were rebuilt and restored in 2001 by a UK Jaguar restorer. It has a mainly aluminum body with a distinctive pre-war look, even though it was made postwar. It is right-hand drive with a three-speed column shift and seating for three. It has a unique ‘dickey seat’ (rumble seat) in the rear for two, with a fold-down windscreen.”
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Take good care of it and it will take care of you,” he advises. “It is very reliable for a 65-year-old. The brakes can be a puzzle. They were among the first hydraulics, but they work fine when they’re right.”
“I really don’t know,” Gandel says. “Maybe $20,000 to $40,000 here?” The NADA Guides puts a “high retail” value of $34,200 on a 1949 2000 Roadster. A similar car sold last April for $36,720 at a Detroit auction.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“You can drive it for years and never see another, unless you go looking for it,” he says of his Triumph. “The British club and other U.S. owners – maybe 30 – are very collegial and helpful.”