Triumph TR5 PI
Ex-Earls Court Motor Show car
“First British production sports car with petrol injection” is what the brochures and advertisements said about the Triumph TR5PI. The fun fact is that the engine bay shown on those photos was the same as the TR5 we offer for sale here. This doesn’t limits the car’s interesting history, because it was also shown at the 1967 Earls Court Motor Show. Better known as CP20LO, this example has been restored into its original condition and will be a truly unique addition for a fine Triumph or sports car collection. TR5s are fun to drive, very quick and highly sought after by Triumph enthusiasts, but with a limited production run, the car remained quite unknown to the main public.
The acceleration from a standstill to 100 kmh in 8.6 seconds was Porsche 911 territory in 1967. Porsche introduced their mechanical fuel injection system a year later. The Brits had their Lucas petrol injection, which was first used at Le Mans in 1956 and in Formula 1 for over a decade before a more sophisticated MKII version went into production cars of Maserati, Aston Martin and Triumph. The Lucas system wasn’t flawless, but it proved to be briljant for a mechanical fuel injection system at the time. In 1968 Triumph’s TR6, the TR5’s successor, was even 0.2 quicker than the Porsche 911 E Targa, according to an early Autocar test. A fact most people don’t realise.
Triumph was ahead of their game and today you can see the TR5 as a car that pushed the brand into the 70’s. The TR5 still had the beautiful Michelotti designed styling of the pure TR4 roadster, but it felt like a much newer car at the time and it easily would have out-perform many sports cars from the Seventies when it should have been continued. With 152 HP and 220 Nm of low-end Torque, a top-speed of nearly 200 kmh and the easiness of the way the car drove and handled, it was a blast to drive. And it still feels like the perfect British roadster today, when its mechanical petrol injection is in full working order. If properly tuned by specialists it ticks all the boxes. The way a TR5 responses to driver inputs is great. The ability to brake, turn and accelerate while driving spirited is beyond most people’s expectations. It’s just that good.
With the TR5 Triumph beat the impressive Healey, but with a car like this they could also compete with the Germans or Italian open sports cars. With only 2947 examples the Triumph TR5 PI is perhaps Triumph’s best kept secret. The Karmann-shaped TR6 took over the baton and the rest is history, although it wasn’t the plan to build a straight 6 at first. To keep up with the evergoing competition on the sports car market, Triumph had decided to add a sharper camshaft to the TR4A’s four cylinder engine. But it was impossible to create an easy to run sports car with extra large carburetors. The fuel injection development was set up with both engineers from the company Tecalemit-Jackson and Triumph itself. It evolved into the launch of the six cylinder TR5, because the petrol injection system never made it to its predecessor’s production line. The only suitable injection system came from Lucas, who started to build fuel injection systems for Rolls Royce before WWII. CP20LO was one of the first cars that was fitted with a more modern system, the 20th to be precise, which makes it an even more interesting car on Triumph’s timeline.
When the TR5 PI was launched CP20LO got a central spot on the Standard Triumph stand to attract people. With its pure white body, lipstick red Ambla trim and typical Triumph disc wheels it was the manufacturer’s shining star. The looks definitely helped to showcase the car’s new technology under the bonnet. The sexy red interior remained quite special, not just for the occasion, because a darker Matador Red was the common red trim used in TR5s. Put several whith TR5s in line and CP20LO will stand out.
Typical for a first series TR5 is the use of a TR250 chassis. There are also some other details that set apart the early TR5s from the rest, like the fuel pump in the engine bay, but this CP20LO goes a step further. It was built for the Swiss market, and therefore it has got an optional heater, overdrive and metric instead of imperial gauges, but also left-hand drive. Too bad for the Swiss though, the car was sold to Denmark after it was sent back to the factory for a new engine. Compared to the other two show cars, CP20LO wasn’t sold as-if, but as a brand new car and therefore it couldn’t be sold with a used engine. And although the car was sold to Mr. O. Prakash in Denmark, it was registered in the UK under plate number NWK 378F in Coventry, 1968. In 1971 it was purchased by a Dutchman and it remained in the Low Lands since.
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