Triumph Thunderbird 6T

Triumph Thunderbird 6T

 

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Triumph the legend

Triumph Speed Twin

Triumph Tiger 100

Triumph 1943 to 1949

 

 

 

The pragmatism of Edward Turner to create the Triumph Thunderbird 6T

Triumph Tunderbird 6T

 

In 1949 Johnson Motors celebrated its first decade of existence by selling 1,000 Triumph motorcycles per year through its distribution network of more than 100 dealers.

Edward Turner, visionary and responsible for the “Triumph´s revolution”, was more convinced than ever that the future of the brand was in the US. However, many of the buyers complained that the 500cc engine was quite short compared to the Harley Davidson and Indian twin-cylinder.

Motor Triumph Thunderbird 6T

Thunderbird 6T´engine | Triumph Thunderbird 6T

As always and using his pragmatism Turner decided to give the American market what it demanded and for that, he acted in the same way he always did, optimizing all available resources with the minimum investment, based on the successful 500cc twin and from it he developed a 650cc engine.

Name “Thunderbird” was inspired by the Thunderbird Hotel, where Turner was housed in early 1949, originally from the American Indians, was the name of a giant bird, like an eagle, capable of unleashing Thunder and storms.

Convinced of the strength of the advertising, he presented the model in a speed test at Montlhéry Bank, near Paris, in September 1949. Three Thunderbirds traveled more than 800 km at an average speed of 145 km / h. an excellent performance for that time, generating a considerable promotion for the new motorcycles.

At the time that its launch became official, more than 2,500 units had been manufactured and were already available in the sales room of the American dealers.

As always and using his pragmatism Turner decided to give the American market what it demanded and for that, he acted in the same way he always did, optimizing all available resources with the minimum investment, based on the successful 500cc twin and from it he developed a 650cc engine.

 

 

A total success

Triumph Thunderbird 6T

 

In 1950, along with the Thunderbird, were in the catalog, the Tiger 100, the Speed ​​Twin and the 3T Deluxe moderately updated, while the TR5 Trophy was identical to the 1949 but with the gearbox of the Thunderbird.

As with the Speed ​​Twin, Turner had a great success with the Thunderbird, when it came time for design and marketing, he was always ahead of his competitors. He quickly became the market leader by making other British manufacturers follow his path.

Soon similar twin-cylinder emerged with very good performance, but the Triumph engines were designed intelligently and seemed more ingenious, more modern and faster. Turner’s magic was invincible.

Many components of the engine were updated for the Thunderbird, there were improvements in the crankshaft, in the cylinder head, and in the oil pump, which was improved to deal with the higher torque. The clutch was reinforced with two additional plates and the gear had 24 teeth.

One of the advantages of basing the development of the new 6T engine on the 5T was that it could be screwed directly to the same frame. This facilitated the assembly with the consequent saving of investment.

Triumph Thunderbird 6T

Triumph Thunderbird 6T | Triumph Thunderbird 6T

Another novelty of the Thunderbird was its blue thunder color and the logo of the brand with four lines of the fuel tank, also the frame of the bike was painted the same color. The blue thunder did not have a good reception in the market, it was quite insipid, which was changed by mid-year.

The Thunderbird initiated the new policy of Turner to put less chromium in the motorcycles, as a result of problems with the supplier. Also, the two-seater seat was launched for this model and offered as an option.

Although it was not considered a high performance motorcycle, the Thunderbird did not disappoint. The Motor Cycle magazine did a speed test in September 1949 reaching 150 km / h. After this test, he published an analysis in which he considered the motorcycle and its performance impeccable.

As with the Speed ​​Twin, Turner had a great success with the Thunderbird, when it came time for design and marketing, he was always ahead of his competitors. He quickly became the market leader by making other British manufacturers follow his path.

 

 

The Wild One

Triumph Thunderbird 6T

 

Motorcycles in the US were always focused as a product for leisure and sports, as a basically recreational vehicle. At the beginning of the 1950s and with the return of young fighters from the Second World War, it began to be identified as a vehicle for rebels.

Triumph Thunderbird 6T

Scene from the film “The wild one” | Triumph Thunderbird 6T

In 1953 the controversial film “The Wild One” starring Marlon Brando, inspired by Frank Rooney’s novel “The Cyclist’raid”, was released. It related the events that took place in Hollister in July 1947, where 3,000 young bikers generated incidents in the Classic AMA annual concentration.

The film represented the bikers from a very negative view with a protagonist Marlon Brando riding a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird. The success of the film was overwhelming and did not generate good publicity for the two-wheel sector.

With the intention of promoting motorcycling as a healthy activity, Bill Johnson protested energetically about the film and tried to stop production, but it was impossible, and in each shot of the film the brand’s logo clearly appeared on the protagonist’s motorcycle fuel tank. The success of the film generated a lot of publicity, even if it was bad, and the sales of Triumph did not suffer, on the contrary, its increased once the film was released.

The film represented the bikers from a very negative view with a protagonist Marlon Brando riding a 1950 Triumph Thunderbird. The success of the film was overwhelming and did not generate good publicity for the two-wheel sector.

 

 

 

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

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