Triumph and BSA

Triumph and BSA

 

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Triumph the legend

Triumph Speed Twin

Triumph Tiger 100

Triumph 1943 to 1949

Triumph Thunderbird 6T

Triumph 1951-1952

Triumph 1953-1955

Triumph 1956-1958

Triumph Bonneville

Triumph 1960-1962  

 

 

1964 Turner’s Retreat

Triumph and BSA

 

This year was the last of Edward Turner at in charge of Triumph, the man who led the brand to success, to become an iconic brand in the motorcycle world and to revolutionize the two-wheel industry in the United Kingdom, he decided backing out.

He had been a visionary, a specialist and a great motorcycle enthusiast; few people like him knew the product and what the consumer was looking for. He was a great engineer and, above all, a great connoisseur of marketing tools. A pragmatic man, with an immense sense of aesthetics and design talent.

Triumph and BSA

BSA 500cc 1964 | Triumph and BSA

Although he retired as executive director of the BSA Automotive Division, he was still linked to the company as an independent designer. Bert Hopwood had hoped to take Turner’s place, but Eric Turner appointed Harry Sturgeon, a former Havilland Aircraft executive who later served as director of a BSA grinding machine subsidiary.

Sturgeon wanted to make changes since the beginning of his management, he wanted to increase production significantly and double the maximum reached in the Turner era, which were over 2000 units per month. This led suppliers to make an effort for what they were not prepared and the supply of parts began to fail.

The factories were over demanded and the first failures in the quality of construction of the vehicles appeared, in addition, the company’s workforce suffered an exceptional increase in the number of employees, with the consequent increase in power of the unions.

Sturgeon’s sales strategy was quite bad and the fusion with BSA that McKinsey had advised did not begin with total decision. With the domestic market still depressed, all production surpluses went to the US.

He had been a visionary, a specialist and a great motorcycle enthusiast; few people like him knew the product and what the consumer was looking for. He was a great engineer and, above all, a great connoisseur of marketing tools. A pragmatic man, with an immense sense of aesthetics and design talent.

 

 

 

Towards total fusion. Triumph and BSA

Triumph and BSA

 

In 1965 the BSA group buys a majority stake in Johnson Motors and with the operations of the US east and west coast owned, the group decides to deepen the fusion of BSA and Triumph.

The first stage of this process took place in England, with consolidated spare parts and production materials at the BSA Small Heath plant during 1964. Sturgeon also wanted Meriden to focus solely on two-cylinder models and in July 1964 he decided to move production from Tiger Cub to Small Heath.

Since February 1965, the Tiger Cub was produced in Small Heath, initially assembled from components supplied by Meriden. This was the first of several decisions resulting from McKinsey’s advice.

Triumph and BSA

Honda CB450 1965 | Triumph and BSA

Meanwhile, production remained at record highs and sales responded, especially in the US. There was only time and resources to continue developing Twins. With the Japanese threat more alive than ever, the Honda CB450 makes its appearance in March 1965, the Trident 750 CC project is reinforced.

The first stage of this process took place in England, with consolidated spare parts and production materials at the BSA Small Heath plant during 1964. Sturgeon also wanted Meriden to focus solely on two-cylinder models and in July 1964 he decided to move production from Tiger Cub to Small Heath.

 

 

 

 

A contradictory marriage. Triumph and BSA

Triumph and BSA

 

Sturgeon accelerated the process of fusion the two brands, moving Johnson Motors from its Pasadena headquarters to a new group headquarters in Duarte, California.

Triumph distributors were informed that they should sell BSA and vice versa, this generated many conflicts both in the United Kingdom and in the US, historically the brands were always rivals and the marketing chains were very identified with their respective brands, it was not a decision easy to digest, forcing Sturgeon to backtrack with the decision.

After Wilbur Cedar died in May 1966, Sturgeon succeeded him as president of Johnson Motors. The BSA-Triumph fusion was now complete, and with even more emphasis on the US market. Triumph won the Queen’s Export Award again.

Somewhat doubtful decisions were made this year regarding its effectiveness. Eric Turner ruled out the promising Bert Hopwood modular top camshaft in favor of Edward Turner’s P30 upper camshaft. While the second version of the 750 CC three-cylinders was developed with three new prototypes in mid-1966, Eric Turner continued to favor the use of the existing 650 CC twin-cylinders Triumph and BSA.

Triumph distributors were informed that they should sell BSA and vice versa, this generated many conflicts both in the United Kingdom and in the US, historically the brands were always rivals and the marketing chains were very identified with their respective brands, it was not a decision easy to digest, forcing Sturgeon to backtrack with the decision.

 

 

 

1967 and success continues. 

Triumph and BSA

 

Despite the constant struggle to rectify production errors caused by the overexploitation of factories, the brand continued its triumphant career in the US, sales volumes did not decline and the brand remained fashionable.

It’s helped and a lot to maintain this performance the triumphs achieved in all the races, always ended at the podium and there was no better publicity than this for motorcycle enthusiasts.

Triumph and BSA

Triumph T120 1967 | Triumph and BSA

Of the 33.406 British motorcycles imported into the US this year, 24.700 were Triumph and more than half of these were T120RS. Much of its success was due to its design, motorcycles that were very attractive, dazzled by its refined and sporty lines at the same time. The other feature that completed the winning formula was its performance, fast and versatile covered a wide range of what consumers were looking for.

The Japanese superbikes had not yet arrived in the cities, BSA struggled with its chronic quality problems, and Norton was still in development of the Commando. Triumph was unrivaled, 1967 was a great year for the brand.

It’s helped and a lot to maintain this performance the triumphs achieved in all the races, always ended at the podium and there was no better publicity than this for motorcycle enthusiasts.

 

 

 

Not all that glitters is gold. Triumph and BSA

Triumph and BSA

 

Despite such success, not everything was rosy that year. Harry Sturgeon had to leave the group’s address in February due to health problems, Lionel Jofeh took his place. Coming from the aviation industry, Jofeh took as a personal challenge to further consolidate the fusion of BSA and Triumph.

One of Jofeh’s first projects was the establishment of a research and development center in Umberslade Hall. Although it was not operational until the end of 1968, it employed 300 people, most of them without motorcycle experience, and had an annual budget of around 1,500,000 pounds.

BSA Rocket 3 | Triumph and BSA

Although the profitability of the operations was still high, this new project affected Meriden quite a bit, which he believed to support much of the effort required. In addition, unions, with enough accumulated power for these years, began to mobilize the workforce.

Meanwhile, work on the development of the Trident continued to advance at a good pace, although the first prototypes followed the design line of the Bonneville, the BSA directors decided to commission the design to Ogle Design in Hertfordshire. Ogle Design had no experience in the sector and the resulting design of the Trident and BSA Rocket 3 was not enthusiastically received in the company. Originally it was planned to launch the three-cylinders at the end of 1967, but the problems with the design caused that it was delayed a year.

One of Jofeh’s first projects was the establishment of a research and development center in Umberslade Hall. Although it was not operational until the end of 1968, it employed 300 people, most of them without motorcycle experience, and had an annual budget of around 1,500,000 pounds.

 

 

 

 

 

Source: “Triumph motorcycles 1937-today” of Ian Falloon

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