The concept of a ‘sleeper car’ has always been interesting to me; a meek and mild-mannered-looking car that could unleash unholy fury when provoked has a way to stir the imagination! In the case of the 1973 Triumph Dolomite Sprint, the question is more about who they thought they were fooling than anything else! On the outside, the Dolomite Sprint was a bland, if well-designed four-door sedan, acceptable to society as well as to British Leyland and Triumph management, but under the hood an engine that could finally help the Dolomite compete with its sporty contemporaries, including the now-famous BMW 2002. With a lowered suspension, front spoiler and alloy wheels, the Dolomite Sprint even looked the part, and sold quite well.
Even though Triumph engineers were able to obtain up to 150 horsepower on test engines, thanks in large part to a new, award-winning cylinder head design which operated 16 valves from a single camshaft, it was decided to lower the outpout for reliability reasons down to about 130 horsepower. This was more than enough to make the Dolomite Sprint sing and dance, however, with a top speed of 118 miles per hour and a 0-60 time of 8.4 seconds. The Sprint was also equipped with a close-ratio manual gearbox, and besides a slight understeer tendency, was a joy to drive and a prize-winner on the track.
Like all good things, it came to an end in 1980, plagued by mismanagement that exacerbated a general lack of quality control. The 1973 Triumph Dolomite Sprint remains a car prized by collectors and enthusiasts alike.