First MINI Now Triumph?

BMW is working on a two-seater based off of the MINI platform that will form the basis of a Triumph concept car later this year and may eventually see production. This seemingly incredible news comes from this morning’s edition of and is based on information from Autocar’s January 3rd issue. For those that might not be aware, along with BMW’s purchase of Rover back in the mid-90s came a handful of old British brands such as Triumph. At the time it had been rumored that the MINI would be the first of several brands coming back to life. However it was assumed these plans were shelved when Rover was broken up and sold by BMW in 2000. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Reviewing the unconfirmed news that BMW Group design team is working in California on a two-seater sports car derivative of the current MINI platform, Autocar’s 3 January issue speculates that the car, “close to getting the green light for production”, could become a concept vehicle later this year, and eventually, could be marketed under the Triumph brand.

You can read the entire article below:

[ BMW protects ownership of Triumph brand ]
  • giacomo

    A TR6 or TR4 was all I wanted when I was a much younger man. Never got one! To this day I like the designs of them. Not sure about the mechanics but styling was great. That deep exhaust sound the kool way you felt with the top down, a friend had one, was all money. Even the TR8 was pretty kool. Hope BMW does a splendid a job as they have with the MINI. I wonder which years styling they’ll key off?

  • TSizemore3

    TR9 anyone? Makes me kinda wistfull for my first car, a 1972 TR6.

  • Charlie

    my first car was a Triumph GT6+….

    Love the MINI but I am excited about what they could do for the Triumph cars….

  • Vanwall

    The original Mini was supposed to be the basis of the new MG Midget back in the sixties, but they went with the Spridget style car already in the works. It was a pretty nice solution, actually, and it looked very close to production, judging by the prototype I saw in the Heritage Collection. I could see a Triumph version of the new MINI very easily, and, hey, no British Leyland production-line and quality problems! Now if they could latch on to MG, that would be cool. 😉

              Rob in Dago
  • asp

    so – did BMW also get the Austin lineup and models? – my first ride in a “foreign” auto was the Austin 850 – I just had to wait 40 years for the MINI to appear. But in between there was a stint with a ’61 Bugeye – to me this would be the 2 seater to attach to the MINI line a MINI Mk1 Spirte.

  • Chris LW

    Who remembers those TR7 ads “The shape of things to come”, there was one w/ a garage in the frozen tundra shaped like a wedge to accommodate the car. Pretty cool.

    I think if the 2-seater was to be a performance “sports car”, that would be a good thing. As peppy as our cars are,with their great handling,many don’t put it in the same class as say a Z4.

  • Dave

    Front wheel or rear wheel drive??? That is the question!

  • HPuck35

    I once drove a friend’s TR4 when I was in college (mid-70’s). It was one of the most memorable drives I have ever taken, on the back roads in western Massachusetts in the fall. Later, another friend owned a TR6. Good car, but getting a little bloated sizewise, in my opinion.

    My wife and I each drive Minis. If BMW came out with a TR4 type car that is as much fun as the original, I would have a problem trying to explain to my wife why I NEED two cars just for me.

  • Lee L

    I used to lust after a TR3 that a guy around here had restored when I was in High Shcool. What a car! This would be cool if they did it.

  • Gregg

    As much as folks deride a four- or rear-wheel drive MINI, I’m afraid I’d have to shun a front-wheel drive TR (no matter what number you tack on). As a former owner of a TR3B (still regret the necessity of selling THAT one) and an MGB-GT, a front driver TR wouldn’t cut it, no matter how fine. Now if we’re talking basing it on a BMW 1….

  • Floyd

    Owned TR-3B, TR-6, and an MGB. Use the 6 as a basis, rear wheel drive, and make sure a big ol’ American will fit in it like my MINI and I’ll be standing in line.


  • John

    My first car [after a year of suffering with my brothers orsnge Vega] was a white Spitfire. Nothing but great memories…except for the time I introduced the front end of it to a telephone pole after hitting an ice patch.

  • Nathaniel Salzman

    I’m much more a fan of the MGB (especially the GT) than the TR4, but I like to think of them as cousins or something. Having a reborn incarnation of either could be really cool – especially if they capture the very minimalist natures of those original vehicles. I love the almost bohemian quality of my dad’s MGB – gives it so much charm. Most of all, I’d love to see the sound reborn – that straight pipe growl that made their little 4-cylinder motors sound like V8’s.

  • Bill Lawrence

    It makes sense to add another nameplate to the whole new dealer network created by BMW for the MINI. I assume it would be placed at the price point of the Solstice/Sky and MX5. A traditional British brand would be welcome among that group of cars.

  • tsukiji


  • AJ Igel

    Just sent the article to my father. I’m a Mini fanatic, and he was a TR6 owner back when he was my age. This would sort of bridge the generation gap a bit.

    Also, anyone remember a lot of the talk about a BMW 1 and/or 2 series 2-seater like this based on the Mini platform? I remember seeing some photos, but I assumed it was a photoshopped hoax, but this has me thinking that it might be otherwise.

  • JAG

    Cool news, no doubt BMW will do a great job. Start warming up the Triumph MotoringFile!!

  • …I hope BMW will do for the Triumph what they did for the MINI…A great-looking body combined with a reliable engine and transmission,coupled with space for tall/big individuals to drive/ride in comfort. However…my real question is this: Will Triumph have it’s own stand alone dealership;or,will it be sold together with the rest of the BMWs’,MINIs,under one roof? Prehaps I’m getting ahead of myself…

  • This rumour made my day! 🙂

  • Raster-Vector

    Very Cool! I have two cars in the garage – an 05′ MCS as the daily driver and a 62′ TR4 for fun with the top down. I may have to squeeze in a new one of these!


  • percy

    Forget the TR4, go back a few years and build an MGA, complete with wire wheels, plastic side curtains, a nice tonneau cover and a drafty convertabile top. The TR4 was too civilized.

  • gokartride

    Whoda thought such a thing possible…truly we live in amazing times!!! We’re all gonna need bigger garages if this comes to pass.

  • dominicminicoopers

    I agree with the “keeping it a RWD”…however, if you listen to the rumor, it says “a two-seater sports car derivative of the current MINI platform”. Being a derivitive, I really doubt they’d re-engineer the current platform for RWD. Com’on BMW exec’s, prove me wrong this one time….please! 🙂

  • Mark Schulz

    The main reason I own a MINI is the 1978 Spitfire I used to own. Had to sell it because it just wasn’t reliable enough in the winter. Ever since I have wanted a car with the same fun factor. This is awesome news!

  • What i would much rather see isn’t the bugeye sprite, i already have one of those with pics on my website if you are interested.

    much better would be a new big healey. the classic styling and body lines are unforgettable.

    Perhaps BMW lost their chance to do this, as i think they have lost the Austin Healey naming rights, and someone else is close on the heels with this project:

  • Bryn

    The Germans have captured those British bastions Bentley and Rolls Royce but the thought of a BMW-made (Triumph) Spitfire totally flies in the face of history! I do hope they call it something else.

  • Cuca

    A remake of the Triumph Spitfire would be cool! 🙂

  • And their bikes were awesome. Will BMW be manufacturing Triumph motorcycles to potentially compete with their own? Or wait, since i recall seeing recent models, are they a separately owned entity?

  • GSP

    A FWD Triumph ?!??!? I can’t see that it makes any sense to develop, or resurrect, another brand. It’d be relatively easy in the UK … but by the time Triumph died it was a joke in the US. A bad joke. By comparison MINI was simply unknown – not a negative.

  • IanF

    Yeah… I’m not so sure about a FWD Triumph either… but I will reserve judgement until the prototype is publicly shown. Unfortunately, when thinking of a 2 seat sport coupe based on a MINI platform, the Honda Del Sol comes to mind…

    Triumph motorcycles is a separately owned company. Per their site:

    “The Meriden factory closed its doors in early 1983. The cash had simply run out and liquidation followed along with the sale of the company assets. The Meriden site was bulldozed into rubble in ’84 and houses built. It seemed like the end of Triumph and, with it, the British motorcycle industry.

    “Fortunately it wasn’t.

    “Property developer and self-made millionaire John Bloor rescued the Triumph name and a new, privately owned company – Triumph Motorcycles Limited – was born.”

  • Bryn

    GSP – absolutely right. I remember dealers with TR7s on their hands at their wits end with stocks that no-one wanted despite some rally successes by Tony Pond’s V8 versions. The 1970’s were terrible years for the whole home British car industry with foul designs,abysmal build quality, rust issues, industrial relations at an alltime low. And Triumph was no exception. A sad end to some illustrious chapters for their cars (Le Mans included)and only fond memories for several generations of enthusiasts. If Triumph is revived, let’s hope it is in a fitting way that pays tribute to the glory days of the 1950’s and early 60’s….

  • Jim

    I think BMW has rights to the Austin name but the Healey was always licensed from the Healey family. That was why the last year Sprite where just Austin Sprites and why there was a Jenson-Healey. So we could see another Austin from BMW but they would have to work out using the Healey name with the estate.

  • My first car was a ’64 Spitfire, and I still have fond memories of driving that car – even with the hopping rear end and frigid winters. A BMW-engineered Spit would be something to drool over!

  • mgcman

    Hmmm, I smell a photo op only. BMW chose not to market the new MGF in North America when it purchased Rover Group in 1994 (competition for it’s new Z3 perhaps?). Then it sold off all of MG Rover except MINI (and Land Rover – sold to Ford) for 10 quid, watches as the Brits implode, and now wants to re-introduce Truimph a trade name kept in the Rover deal? Come on, get serious. This is only a way of piquing our interests for auto-shows. BMW has its hands full with it’s own sports car line (Z) and it’s foray into F1. A new Triumph? nevergonnahappen.

  • tsukiji

    The most interesting thing about this story is not the resurrection of the Triumph marque, but rather the possibility of an R53 based roadster!

  • Dave
    The Germans have captured those British bastions Bentley and Rolls Royce but the thought of a BMW-made (Triumph) Spitfire totally flies in the face of history! I do hope they call it something else.

    Triumph ME109?

  • Dave

    fortunately the word Triumph is the same in English and German – so this should work out quite well 😉

  • Dave

    Hang on a minute- wouldn’t a Spitfire have to have a Rolls Royce engine?

  • Jim Harris

    I’m willing to be open to the possibility, given that the MINI turned out well and that BMW always seems to know what it’s doing. Let’s see what they come up with.

    My first car was a ’67 Spitfire. Awful. So awful I followed up with a 1972 GT-6 and eventually a 1980 TR7. That TR7 was bad enough to cure me of my British car fascination once and for all, but with BMW oversight, I might just give TR another shot.

    PS: God help me, I read this piece on Gabe’s site and Googled “GT6s” and found a thriving (??) community of GT6 restorers, all of whom have their hands more than full. I’m not going THERE, I can promise you.


  • What could better than a modern engine in a great shape. Better panel fitting and brakes and all the good things that BMW would bring to the program. Roadster, wide track, bigger tirees, what a killer.

  • Fil

    There is a GOD! I own a TR250 and have owned Triumphs ever since the early 80’s. I’d wait in line for a TR9. You know if BMW puts it out it will be quality and COOL!

  • Don P.

    TR3B owner and driver since ’66.

    Go for side curtains. Roll up windows are for sissies.

    I’m assuming that with a TR badge the oil leaks and stain on the garage floor will be standard equipment?

    If they do it the hard part will be getting that genuine sounding throaty roar (Braaaap!) out of what will probably be a smaller displacement overhead cam, 4 valve engine.

    Hard to duplicate that intense love/hate relationship we all had with Brit Iron.

    Perfect for a Wisconsin back road on a bright fall day with the leaves turning and the top down. Miserable on a February night when the Lucas electrics pack it up on a farm road in the middle of nowhere in Iowa.

  • Ted

    Check out the latest from the LA Motor Show Mini Canyon Carver Concept Car Double click on lower left Mini Vehicle

  • Check out the latest from the LA Motor Show

    That’s actually from an event held in conjunction with last year’s LA Auto show: The Ultimate LA Machine

  • Yikes. That’s ugly!

  • Ted

    Thanks Gabe; They tricked me, I’ve only been a Mini enthusiast for a short time.

  • No worries!

  • Jim Britbits

    Actually there is a precedent for a FWD Triumph, as the last Triumph cars built were the Acclaims, based on Honda Accord FWD mechanicals.

    As has been noted, it would be more in keeping with the brand names to build a Mini based roadster under the Austin/MG name ala the Sprite/Midgets of the ’60s and ’70s.

    If BMW wants to resurrect the Triumph name properly it should be done using mechanicals from one of the current (or future) BMW roadsters. With a leaky soft top as a nod to Triumph history.


    Jim ’73 Spitfire ’76 Spitfire ’78 Spitfire ’63 Austin Cooper and a few other toys

  • Vanwall

    Hey, Kastner’s on board – that’s like God’s Seal of Approval. Nobody, and I mean nobody, knows more about Triumphs than Kas, the John Cooper of TRs, who has made some ass-kicking racers over the years. Maybe there’ll be a Kastner Special Edition TR9. 😉

    My favorite Triumph was the TR250, the ultimate TR4, with loads of grunt. I remember when Triumph’s USA people were driving around with weird exhaust combos to get just the right sound for the TR6, whether or not it was a tuned length. A good TR6 is still an awesome sounding car.

                Rob in Dago
  • Bryn

    The original TR2 had a tractor-derived engine. So a “John Deere Works” version ought to be in the new Triumph line up!

  • Graham Robson

    A new Triumph from BMW ? Why not ? They have already done the same sort of thing with Rolls-Royce, which is now totally BMW-based.

    If BMW is serious about this, marketing surveys show that they will concentrate on the USA market, so it figures that the car could be manufactured at the BMW factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina …. but as the Mini factory at Oxford (England) is currently being enlarged maybe they could make it there instead.

    A model name ? Not a TR, surely, and can you honestly see the Germans reviving the name ‘Spitfire’ ?


  • I Owned 1974 Triumph 2000 Mk.2 Sedan from 1978-1990, 1967 Triumph Herald 1200 Convertible from 1981-1998, 1963-1971 Triumph Vitesse Mk.2 Convertible from 1986-date), plus lots of Spitfires and other Heralds for short periods.

    Love(d) them all.

    If BMW really do it, then all the more power to them!

    If any car company does it, then I personally am more than happy if it is BMW. Better BMW than Shanghai Motor Co, or any other Chinese concern.

    Bring them on boys, be they BMW designed Sports cars built in their South Carolina plant or wherever.

  • Think two words: Lotus Elan. What a good idea, that must have seemed. Front-wheel-drive open two-seat sports car with a classy nostalgic name. Who would care that it had a no-name (Isuzu) engine? As you might recall — if you can remember the car at all — it died an inglorious death. Protect the Triumph name that BMW bought with the rest of the Rover package? Certainly; good business decision to keep someone else from using it. Design a concept car for the show circuit and use the Triumph name to test the waters for a cheaper two-seater without suggesting it would ever be produced as a BMW? Also a good business decision. Actually produce a fwd sports car called the Triumph? No chance at all before, say, 2010, and even then I’d take 5-1 odds against it.

  • Put mgcman’s post next to Gary Anderson’s, as well as half a dozen of people that have already commented on the FWD vs. RWD argument, and I think these people are all making a lot of sense and this is not going to be more than flexing of marketing muscles and trying the water.

    • Why would BMW give a cheap roadster under a resurrected brand name another try after they have gotten rid of MG? If they wanted that, they could have marketed the MG brand when it was still under their ownership – which was quite alive at the time – and take it with them out of the Rover sale just like they did with the Mini brand. Maybe they thought that Rover had a fighting chance if they would be allowed to keep MG (eventhough IMHO MG-Rover never stood a chance without Mini and Land Rover).
    • What sense is there in making a roadster based on a FWD car? The world wasn’t ready for the Lotus Elan and I don’t think it is ready now, or ever will be.

    Of course, people can change their minds and their positions in a company, and maybe BMW are now wishing they had kept the MG F like they did with the Mini, and are now going for a second try. I just hope they do the Triumph brand justice by putting it on a proper, RWD roadster.

  • That sucks. Basing it on the MINI means a wimpy 4-cylinder FWD.

    This retro fad is going too far. Designers are using it as an excuse for not having to work. I’m all for nostalgia, but I want the real thing, not some lame, sterile and personality deficient limo that passes for modern motoring.


  • Bobby7

    One thing they can’t recreate that an orignal TR has is “Character”, no way, no how. I have owned 4 TR7’s. Rode in Spits and TR8’s. You guys that have never owned a 7 shouldn’t go on heresay. The late models are actually pretty good cars and a lot of fun. But, a new Triumph\BMW may actually sell pretty well, the majority of folks don’t even know what a Triumph is or that the Mini was orignially an English car.

  • Triplesn8s

    Rear Wheel Drive Please! Rear Wheel Drive Please! Rear Wheel Drive Please! Rear Wheel Drive Please! Rear Wheel Drive Please! Rear Wheel Drive Please! Rear Wheel Drive Please!Rear Wheel Drive Please!Rear Wheel Drive Please!

    Something Spit/GT6 Retro-styled would be cool. Great looking as a fastback coupe or convertible. Historically justified both 4 & 6 cylinder enginers. Not like the Z3 Covertible which looks nice but the Z3 Coupe looks like a Jensen (Healy) GT, appearance-challenged. Design for both from the get-go.

    TR8 Owner Oops, you could have had a V8!

  • giacomo

    The Z4 no more looks like a Jensen than a 1955 Fiat Cinquecento Topolino looks like a Ferrari 275 GTB! GMAB!

    “THE SPIT”?????????? Do you mean Bug Eyed Sprite?!

  • I think a new Triumph roadster built with the quality/marketing abilities of BMW is a fantastic idea, but we have been here before with false starts. I would have thought the Triumph brand is to long dead to resurect? We make our living from selling Triumph parts, and we own over 50 Triumphs, but try explaining to the non enthusiast what you are driving and be met with a blank expression. The best you can hope for is they identify it as an MG (wash my mouth out!). Its only because we live and work in and around Coventry (where all real Triumphs were made) that we stand any chance of the passer by tipping the nod, and only then because they probably worked at the factory. I would think that the clever money at BMW (surely all young enough not to know what a real Triumph was?) would have thought it easier to carry on hanging BMW badges on their cars?

  • Jim Henningsen

    Where do I send my deposit!! Modern components in a classic TR look – count me in.

  • Triplesn8s

    I should have mentioned I meant the later style Spitfire/GT6. The Mark 3/4 redesigned by Michelotti(?) was much sleeker and a better styling update candidate.

  • John Horton

    My first sports car was a TR4. A great car and driven daily for years. Many years later I am collecting and restoring Triumphs. I presently have a TR6 Tr7 Tr8. A new line of Triumphs would be wonderful. Bring them on!

    John H.

  • Our club website for Triumphs

  • Christian

    A new Triumph, yes please!!! Where do I send the deposit?

    On the RWD thing, it’s worth pointing out that the MG F/ TF is based on the FWD metro, but that it is a mid engined sportscar. Rover started developing the MINI NOT BMW. So there is a good chance they planned the MIMI floorpan around a future mid engined TF. Kind of handy really….

  • Joe B

    Hey BMW, can I leave my deposit now for a TR9?! She would look great next to my TR6 and Cooper S! And now I now this is a great site with Kas Kastner, Graham Robson, and Gary Anderson on here. Hey, is Jay Leno lurking anywhere?

  • Matt Richter (aka Dr Obnxs)

    You guys are mostly missing the real model to copy… The TR-3. BMW can make sure it doesn’t fold in half in accidents, but the little doors are way more stylish than the slab side of the 4 and 6.


  • Graham Robson

    Caution, please, guys …. Please don’t get too excited about what WAS, but what MIGHT BE. I don’t honestly think there is any point in hoping that BNW might re-create a car with the character of the TR3, or the TR4. If they are working around the MINI theme, then they are looking at a much smaller car than that. Personally, I’d like to see them produce a mid-engined car, using MINI running gear, which would make Toyota MR2s look old-fashioned. But am I baying at the moon ?


  • Colleye JM

    My first Triumph was a Herald 1200; today,I drive my 1976 Dolomite with always the same pleasure. 1500/1600 cc engine, 5 speed gearbox, rwd, TR4/TR4 Dove look.What a nice Triumph we could see again on the road. A new Triumph for and from BMW. Great!May we hope a Saloon too? Better From Germany than China. JM Colleye (Liège, Belgium)

  • Jay W.

    I currently have a 1974 TR6 with less than 50k original miles as my daily driver. My wife just asked me if I would be interested in the “modern TR6”. I replied with, “…only if it rear-wheel drive!” I want a real sports car.

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  • Larry R

    Stumbled upon this site, owner of a ’76 TR6, constantly looking for a reason to take Trixie for a ride…now this. Not sure what to think. At least a test drive…just to check one out! Ah, the Triumph marquis.

  • Art F

    Inputs from Kas Kastner and Graham Robson!! Maybe this is serious!

    BMW did a great job with bringing the Mini into the 21st Century. If you haven’t driven one, you should. Especially before you comment.

    A Mini-based two-seater might not a lot to do with TR2 through TR6 series cars, but it certainly would deserve serious scrutiny. I’ve driven a Triumph Spitfire since 1982. A Mini-based Triumph — front wheel drive or rear — might just grab my attention.

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  • j

    how much is a 1963 t4 worth not running and needs engine work and interior work