In 1944 Standard bought the moribund Triumph company with a view to transforming it into a sporting marque. This enterprise began a little uncertainly with the Roadster of 1946, best remembered for its archaic diskey seat.
Then in 1947 Standard’s managing director, Sir John Black, asked his chief stylist, Walter Belgrove, to design a body for a new sporting Triumph. What was named the Roadster TRX took a protracted three years to evolve; the finished product was eventually unveiled at the 1950 London Motor Show.
Built on a slightly lengthened Standart Vanguard chassis, the car was an uneasy mixture of European and American themes with full-width bodywork in the Italian manner, although the radiator grille was conceived more in the trans-Atlanic idiom.
The concealed headlamps revealed echoes of Harley Earl’s but on the Triumph their covers were electrically operated. Power assistance was also applied to electrically activated hydraulics that were used to adjust the bench-type seat, raise the hood and active the built-in jacks. These devices operated independently of the engine and could thus be used when it was not running.
As far as the TRX’s styling was concerned, Belgrove attempted to introduce some family resemblance to the Vanguard saloon. The car was powered by a twin-carburettored version of its 2 litre engine and the bonnet could be opened from either side to gain access to the four-cylinder unit.
Standart forsook traditional coachbuilding methods, in which an ash frame was clad in hand-formed panels, when the Triumph was designed. Instead, the Roadster’s stubby, bulbous body was made of double-skinned aluminium.
The car could be used on the road although when The Autocar’s representative came to drive the Roadster, he was alarmed to find that ‘there was a slight suggestion of slow pitching’ which only resolved itself once a passenger was on board…
The TRX was also displayed at the 1950 Paris show, then later at the following year’s Geneva event and could be seen in the Transport Hall of the 1951 Festival of Britain.
The long gestation period unfortunately meant that the car’s lines had begun to date and, perhaps wisely, Standard decided not to continue with what had proved a complicated and costly concept. Just three examples of the TRX were built, of which two survive.
Instead Walter Belgrove went on to essay the lines of the far cheaper and more practical TR2 that appeared at the 1952 London Motor Show. It was to be the first of a long running and well regarded sports-car line.
Wood, Jonathan (1997) Concept Cars, Paragon, ISBN 0-75252-084-9.