Monday September 17, 2018
As seen in a recent blog, the Toledo – and Dolomite 1300/1500 successors – are almost forgotten cars compared with the Sprint. In the 1970s you were far more likely to encounter the entry-level members of the range, but today they are more unusual than actually recognising someone on Celebrity Big Brother – assuming you could bring yourself to watch the show.
Andrew Burford is the proud owner of no less than three of these fine Triumphs: a 1975 Toledo, a 1976 Dolomite 1300 and, for that added touch of exclusivity, a limited edition Dolomite 1500SE from 1979.
Andrew bought the Toledo in 2002 – ‘It is a very late model, and it is finished in Honeysuckle’. The well-trimmed cabin gave the clear message that here was a small saloon that was a cut above your average Escort, Avenger or Viva. They were often driven by school teachers - or in the case of the Burford Triumph, a bank manager.
This gentleman also ordered ‘the optional reclining front seats, mud flaps, and rubber floor mats!’. Andrew likes to ‘gently use the Toledo; it is totally unoriginal and unrestored. They really were town cars – although it can cope with motorway work – and you do notice that the lack of a fifth gear. You also feel just how softly sprung they are’.
The next member of the Burford Fleet is the Tahiti Blue Dolomite 1300 – ‘This was one of British Leyland’s attempts conjure exotic dreams!’ Besides, such a paint choice added an air of glamour to a Fine Fare car park somewhere near Portsmouth.
Andrew discovered the Triumph on eBay in 2006 and ‘I have tweaked a bit - it rides on low-profile alloy wheels, and the suspension has been uprated – to show the potential of the 1300 engine models’.
The Dolomite is, of course, the 1500SE, which Andrew bought in October 2017 from Michael Carpenter – the owner of the Morris Ital van we featured earlier this year. He reflects that this version came about ‘when BL had numbers of unsold 1500s stood outside in primer for three to six months’.
The cunning solution was to create the SE, via a black paint finish with (naturally) silver “go-faster” stripes, a front spoiler, “sports” wheels” and a cabin trimmed in grey velour with a walnut veneered fascia. There was also tinted glass, and a push-button radio in order to hear the radical sounds of Val Doonican on R2; this was definitely not a car for R1 listeners.
The 1500SE proved to be a commercial success, and of the 2,163 examples sold, Andrew estimates that ’30 survive. I drove a lot of Dolomite 1500s in my earlier days, and this is a very good example - it really does go well’.
At shows, he often finds that ‘people are not very familiar with the 1500SE – they often think that it is a Sprint!’. By contrast, when he displays the Toledo ‘, I will be approached all day long with the words – “my dad/mum/grandfather/uncle used to have one of those!”.
Today, each Triumph is used according to its needs and thanks to enthusiasts such as Andrew, an often-overlooked aspect of the country’s motoring heritage is preserved - and enjoyed. The Toledo and the Dolomites are not his only classics, for another member of the Burford automotive family is a 1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner with a fully retractable metal roof – but this is another story!
With Thanks To:
Andrew Burford and Anglo American Car Hire - https://www.facebook.com/Anglo-American-Car-Hire-Leicester-1486777711605417/