15. April 2009 03:30
My thoughts have recently been turning to engine transplants in Triumph Heralds. As a result I recalled perhaps the most bodacious of original period conversions, the Brabham Herald Climax.
The original 1959 Herald had a 948cc engine carried over from the Standard 10 and even in the slightly tuned sportier Coupe offering had a 0-60 time of 23.3 seconds. Jack Brabham was Formula One world champion in 1959 and 60 but did not just build, race, modify and drive racing cars. He started a company in Surrey modifying road cars too. 18 Months after the Herald was launched they were offering to fit a race bred Coventry Climax engine into your car with almost double the horsepower of the factory lump cutting that 0-60 time to just 13.3 seconds and top speed to nearly 100mph. Not blistering by todays standards but a massive leap over the standard car and the same as a then current MGA. I can imagine the driver of a “proper” sports car like that being somewhat miffed at being equalled by a tinny small family saloon!
Anyhow, I suspect that not many Heralds were converted and even fewer will have survived, perhaps proved by the fact I cannot find a single decent image of one on the internet though the TSSC are planning to have one at the Herald 50th celebrations later this year.
Other road cars also received Brabham tuning – there are mentions of Sunbeam Rapiers – but the other one to stick in my mind is the mid sixties Vauxhall Viva HB. Before Vauxhall put the larger 2 litre and 1600 cars the hot HB was a Brabham SL90 with modifications made to the original 1159cc engine. Again only a handful remain though it seems they do pop up at the occasional show.