1967 Triumph TR5 PI - Driving the first TR5 off the production line, Press Car Number 5

1967 Triumph TR5 PI - Driving the first TR5 off the production line, Press Car Number 5

Triumph prototype CP-2-0 was the first TR5 off the Canley assembly line and cautious owners have preserved its originality ever since. We drive Britain’s first fuel-injected production sports car. Words Emma Woodcock. Photography Jonathan Jacob.

Prime Mover

We drive the Triumph test car that introduced fuel injection to the UK

1967 press road test Triumph TR5 driven

A plump armrest supports my right elbow and a foot support nudges out of the transmission tunnel to catch my left heel; both are foreign objects to a TR5 owner. The walnut dashboard and cresting Michelotti-styled bonnet suggest situation normal but this is no ordinary Triumph TR5. It’s a trailblazer. When CP-2-0 rolled down the Canley assembly line on 29th August 1967, the prototypical machine was the first fuel-injected TR to make the journey, spanning the gap between previous hand-assembled test cars and the near 3000 TR5 production cars that would follow.

Triumph prototype CP-2-0 was the first TR5 off the Canley assembly line and cautious owners have preserved its originality ever since. We drive Britain’s first fuel-injected production sports car.

By October the pre-production machine was already a model ambassador. Ripping towards the camera with a crisp, baritone roar that electrified a Movietone News report from the 1967 British International Motor Show, CP-2-0 introduced television viewers across the nation to the Triumph TR5, then staked its place as press car number 5 in magazine road tests published as far afield as Australia. More than five decades later it’s back in print; the weight of history lays heavy on me as I fire up what might be the most original of these early cars in existence.

The engine catches to a grumbling baritone that fluctuates from 600 to 850rpm as it slowly warms, shaking the bootlid behind me in transverse spasms that ebb and flow with each Harley Davidson splutter from the exhaust pipes. Treacly scents of unburned fuel trickle into the cabin, overpowering wood polish and the sweet tinge of the original Ambla PVC upholstery, and forcing my focus back to the engine up ahead. I haven’t even snagged first gear and the inline-six is already dominating the driving experience.

1967 Triumph TR5 PI - Driving the first TR5 off the production line, Press Car Number 5

Within moments the minor dials are dancing into their operating ranges and the heavy, deliberate swagger translates into muscular manoeuvring. Sat as far back as the flat-based seat will slide, I roll my left leg away from the vestigial metal footrest and find a clutch pedal that reaches far, far forwards before it finally lets the shifter snick into first gear. The heavy, straight-legged action demands a strong thigh to match the fine ankle control I need to find a sharp biting point against the accelerator, while my bent arms are busy agitating the unassisted steering into life.

Earlier Triumph sports cars echo through the TR5 as I guide the 1967 two-seater away from Sherwood Restorations and out through the twisting Nottinghamshire village next door. My feet stick out in front of me and work between close, skinny pedals; the thin-rimmed steering wheel stands upright and close to my chest, forcing bent arms yet skimming far enough above the seat to let my legs slide past unimpeded; the upright seat sits close to the road and far back over the rear wheels. Full-height doors and a wider, more luxuriously appointed cabin aside, the driving environment shares the same basic shape as the lowslung TR2 and TR3 models from more than a decade before.

Traversing speed bumps and potholes reveals further similarities, demonstrating the evolutionary approach Canley took to its trademark sports car range. The 1965-onwards TR4A had introduced semi-trailing arm independent suspension also used by the TR5 but both models are still encumbered by simple lever-arm rear dampers, which offer little defence to the soft, accelerating sways that shoot upwards through the seatback as I guide CP-2-0 through a compression. Up front the Triumph sits firmer and more secure with telescopic dampers, creating a mismatched ride quality that echoes all the way back to the 1953 TR2 and its similar set-up. Surface changes underline the advanced years of the body-on-frame chassis, which shares much of its shape and construction methods with previous TR sports cars. Scuttle shake spasms over the dashboard and three-spoke rim when I turn onto country lanes, then grows into violent cracks over surface changes.

1967 Triumph TR5 PI - Driving the first TR5 off the production line, Press Car Number 5

Bucking tarmac seems to twist the Triumph. One pronounced camber agitates the left side of the car long before the right, leaving me slightly detached from the road below.

A decade earlier this would have been normal but other sports car makers had applied stiffer assembly techniques by the TR5’s arrival. Lotus’ Elan would float through the same bump with strength and lightweight fluency, gifts of its stiff backbone frame and long-travel dampers, while full or partial monocoque construction gave the Alfa Duetto, Jaguar E-type and Sunbeam Alpine extra torsional rigidity. The Triumph can’t compete through tight, knotted turns, but straighter roads suit it much better.

Attention pivots back to the six-cylinder engine as soon as the tarmac opens out. Replacing the inline-four used by all previous TRs, the factory-balanced TR5 motor uses the 2.0-litre Triumph 2000 straight-six as its basis but adds a lengthened stroke, sector-first Lucas fuel injection and a cross-drilled crankshaft. The TR4A made 104bhp and 127lb ft; the TR5 eclipses those figures with 150bhp and 164lb ft. Matched with a 1034kg kerb weight, the 2498cc engine gives the Triumph enough performance to outpunch any contemporary from Alfa-Romeo or MG.

It starts with a twitch of the prototypical standalone throttle pedal, which responds with an oiled, keen precision that telegraphs through my right foot. I burn through an initial bluntness at the very top of its movement, then the Triumph takes notice and responds with a mournful, low-pitched burr. Torque flows to the rear wheels in a measured, building wave that pushes the speedo needle upwards far faster than the engine revs. Flicking through the gears – including switch-operated overdrive for second, third and fourth – the TR5 feels languid yet unstoppable from barely 2000rpm.

1967 Triumph TR5 PI - Driving the first TR5 off the production line, Press Car Number 5

The surge intensifies as the tacho sweeps, unleashing a crisp air intake bark as acceleration strengthens towards the 3500rpm torque peak. I sense the seatback squatting down behind me as the rear bodywork settles into the soft coil springs below and the nose starts to arc skywards. The exhaust swaps its serration for a tighter rasp and the engine rounds towards a higher pitch on the run to 4000 revs, acceleration still growing all the time.

Peak power won’t arrive until 5500rpm, so I keep going. The sound improves again, emerging as a dry, cultured tenor that mimics aJaguar E-type orAston Martin DB4. I click into overdrive to wipe 500 revs off the dial, then settle into closer scan of the cabin. Little telltales of CP-2-0’s pre-production status slowly emerge – the gearlever and anodised windscreen clamp plates are inherited from the earlier TR4A; and the glinting chrome glovebox lock wouldn’t make it to TR5 series production.

Other variations hide out of sight until I pop the front-hinged bonnet, revealing the subtle experiments that mark this car’s place in TR5 development. A front-mounted oil cooler grabs my attention – plumbed directly into the engine block, it was fitted by Triumph to keep underbonnet temperatures down but didn’t make production. Examining the nearside inner wing exposes another change. A reinforcing plate reveals that the fuel pump was originally mounted here, before overheating issues forced its relocation to the boot. Given the chance to pull the car apart, I’d also find a trio of adjustable Allen plugs in the inlet manifold, a removable differential mount and an under-chassis drop bracket for the fuel pressure relief valve. Instead I stand by the roadside and drink in the overall sense of originality. With 68,000 miles on the odometer and a service history featuring little more than general servicing, CP-2-0 is a TR5 and a time capsule in equal measure. When John Sykes first stumbled on the prototype in the Nineties, it was still living in the shadow of the old Triumph assembly plant.

‘I met the then-owner on Torrington Avenue, almost opposite the factory gates,’ recalls the TR5 expert and founder of marque specialist TR Bitz. ‘Immediately I knew it was something special. The chassis plate and body plate were both original, as were the engine, differential and gearbox numbers. Everything about the car was as it left the factory, which is how I decided to keep it. A lot of people didn’t understand my attitude back then but CP-2-0 is far more historically important because of its originality.’

1967 Triumph TR5 PI - Driving the first TR5 off the production line, Press Car Number 5

‘It acted as the perfect reference guide,’ John continues. ‘I used CP-2-0 to show customers exactly how a TR5 should be.’ Despite an unparalleled ownership history that includes several significant TR4/5s, he still rates CP-2-0 as the most desirable example of all. ‘Its originality raises it above the rest – that’s why I kept it until 2014. I’d sold it before in 1999 but realised my mistake and bought it back. The drive is so tight and exhaust note so sweet, like the whole car has melded together over the years. No restored car could match it.’

Sweeping roads bring cohesion to the TR5 driving experience, shedding its low-speed awkwardness to reveal progressive, manageable controls that reward steady inputs. The fast rack-and-pinion steering jinks the front wheels into shallow turns with a wrist-snap of the wheel, gaining weight and feel in stepping unison when a corner tightens. Feedback jumps through the brakes when I treat the Girling front discs with the same conviction. Where low-speed applications offer weight but little reassurance, pressing harder ensures a firmer pedal that lets me trim inputs precisely.

Certainty also improves the gearchange, which otherwise feels loose and weightless through the central plane. Reaching forward to catch the tapered shifter in the heel of my left hand, I learn to move the lever quickly and relish in the clean, tight and protracted snick of each gear engaging. The sharp, readable clutch and evereager throttle only add to the enjoyment, and the lever-operated overdrive ensures I always have the perfect gear to hand. Appreciated not as a sports car but as an athletic grand tourer, the Triumph excels on the fast, cresting drive back towards Sherwood. On smooth tarmac the chassis yaws resolutely into each new input then holds a limited roll angle, communicating each movement with soft-edged heft that makes the TR5 easy to trust. The double-wishbone front suspension stays secure even when the underdamped rear bounces through mid-turn bumps, and a squirt of the accelerator settles the car over its back wheels, so I learn to relax and let the car flow beneath me.

Perhaps that’s what Triumph intended all along. Engine burbling under the late afternoon sun, my left foot falls instinctively to the clutch rest and my elbow shrugs down onto the door-mounted PVC padding. They’re only little changes but they emphasise the cruiser any TR5 can be. CP-2-0 rejects the rough edges of its predecessors and points to the more luxurious, less frenetic future Triumph would embrace into the Seventies with the TR6 and radical TR7. Press car number 5 signalled a bold change, and one that paid off. Savouring the flexibility and ripped-cloth soundtrack of that dominant, fuel-injected six, I’m going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

1967 Triumph TR5 PI

  • Engine 2498cc inline six-cylinder, ohv, Lucas mechanical fuel injection
  • Max Power 150bhp @ 5500rpm
  • Max Torque 164lb ft @ 3500rpm
  • Steering Rack and pinion
  • Suspension
  • Front: independent, double wishbones, coil springs, Armstrong telescopic dampers
  • Rear: independent, semi-trailing arms, coil springs and Armstrong lever-arm dampers
  • Brakes Servo-assisted Girling discs front; drums rear
  • Performance
  • 0-60mph: 8.7sec
  • Top speed: 125mph
  • Weight 1034kg (2280lb)
  • Fuel consumption 21.8mpg
  • Cost new £1212 8s. 11d.
  • Classic Cars Price Guide £26,000-£46,000 (production car)

Valencia Blue one of seven TR5 colours High-sided bodywork reduces turbulence at speed. TR4A-derived independent rear suspension setup aids predictable cornering Soft rear end squats under acceleration. CP-2-0 is first TR5 with model-correct bodyshell; early hacks used modified TR4A bodies Inline-six chilled by factory oil cooler. CP-2-0 was built in a cancelled TR250 slot Overdrive creates effective seven-speed gearbox; prototype armrest works well.

‘Attention pivots to the six-cylinder as soon as the tarmac opens out’


‘What would CP-2-0 be without its originality?’ asks Andrew Blatherwick.

He bought the Triumph from Sherwood Restorations four years ago. ‘I’ve been very careful, as has everyone who’s ever owned it. The Lucas fuel injection has never been totally reliable – Sherwood sourced a period replacement pump when I first bought the car – but I couldn’t bear to modify the system. It’s the same with the Armstrong rear dampers. When the originals started leaking, I sourced restored replacements from TR Enterprises instead of fitting an upgrade.’

‘I really enjoy keeping CP-2-0 in the right condition. It performed perfectly when we took it touring around Norfolk and Suffolk, though I have also replaced the crankshaft thrust washers for piece of mind. They failed on my previous TR5 in the Eighties. The unique clutchfoot rest has also benefited from subtle reinforcement. I added a metal backing plate; originally it was only mounted to the cardboard transmission tunnel.’

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