Triumph Grand Prix 1947
1947 TRIUMPH "GRAND PRIX". In September, 1946, Ernie Lyons
rode a Triumph twin to victory in the Manx Grand Prix • the Island. Later that
month the Triumph factory, with commendable "uickness, announced that a replica
of the winning machine would be sold, as a stripped racer, in 1947. It would be
known as the "Grand Prix".
The full story of the machine goes back to pre-war days, when
Triumphs had marketed the first successful parallel twins—first the "Speed
Twin", and then the "Tiger 100". After the war,
Triumphs were soon back into production with iron-engined
models very similar to the pre-war ones except for the fitting of
Ernie Lyons took one of these post-war "Tiger 100s" and set
about turning it into a real racer. (This had been done before the war as well—a
"Tiger 100" holds the Brooklands 500 c.c. lap record for ever.) The main change
he made was the fitting of the cylinder-block and -head from a W.D.-type
generating-set engine; these were of light alloy. The factory co-operated with
him in his project by lending him one of the first spring hubs to be made. This
now-forgotten method of rear suspension had coil springs encased within a large
alloy hub so that the wheel could move an alleged 2 in. It was better than a
rigid frame. . . .
The push-rod twin-cylinder motor undoubtedly had a great
advantage over the single in races immediately after the war, for it took much
more kindly to the dreadful petrol then available. The "Grand Prix" never scored
any really great victories, but certainly gave scores of budding racers their
first chance to straddle a machine built for racing.
The Triumph twin engine has an even greater claim to fame, for
surely no other unit has been used in so many successful specials—or in so many
unsuccessful ones. The "Tiger 100" engine's grandson, the "Tiger no", powered
the fastest two-wheeler in the world up to 1961 (whatever the F.I.M. say!).
The history of the Triumph company dates from 1885, the year
it was founded by two men of German origin, Bettman and Schulte, who made and
sold high-quality bicycles.
Ten years later Schulte tried out a Hildebrand & Wolfmuller
motorcycle. The new experience had such an impact on him that he and his partner
decided to go into motorcycle manufacturing.
The first Triumph motorcycle to appear was the four-valve Type R. Designed by
Ricardo, it went on sale in 1901. Triumph owed its first racing wins to the
Ricardo model after its sensational performance at the 1908 Tourist Trophy.
In January of 1936 Triumph Motorcycles was completely
restructured, and so was its production. The first Triumph motorcycles with
two-cylinder engines began to appear. Ernie Lyons rode one of these to win the
1946 Manx Grand Prix. It was such a dramatic win that the Triumph people decided
to produce a racing model that had the same features as the one Lyons had
Thus the Triumph Grand Prix made its first appearance in 1947. It was a
substantially updated motorcycle with a powerful engine. Sold throughout Europe,
it was victorious in a host of. minor races.
Engine: parallel twin 500 c.c. o.h.v.; valve operation by
push-rods. Ignition: magneto.
Transmission: chain via four-speed gearbox.
Frame: cradle type with single down-tube and twin
bottom rails; rear suspension by patented sprung
hub. Forks: telescopic.