Reference: Triumph Terror

1953 Triumph Terror

Ian Roberts is a massive fan of Triumph’s early unit singles. Indeed, such is Ian’s devotion to the marque that when Martyn Adams at Serco – recognised Cub experts – decided to emigrate to Australia with his family a couple of years ago, Ian bought Serco lock, stock and barrel. Ian continues to trade as Serco and has actually introduced several new items into the company’s range, all for the benefit of Cub owners everywhere.

First and foremost Ian is an enthusiast – and he’s particularly enthusiastic about the machine pictured, the wonderfully charming period racer, the Triumph ‘Terror.’

Bought two years ago, Ian explained a bit about the little racer. Apparently it was purchased new by a chap in Gravesend, who straight away converted it for use on the racetrack. He used to cart it to race meeting on a BSA float; which was basically his daily transport combination which he used to take the sidecar body off. It was raced continually until 1962, when it was laid up, still bearing scrutineer stickers and marks. There it stayed untouched until Ian bought it from the original owner’s son two years ago.

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Competitive swanson
As is evidenced by the accompanying pictures, Ian has resisted any temptation to do anything to it whatsoever – indeed, the forks are still filled with the old grease, probably put in before its competitive swansong. Specification includes a Dell’Orto GP-type carb, Dunlop triangular racing tyres, home-made rearsets, an ultra close ratio gearbox and an engine bored to 230cc from the original 150. All the conversion work was done by the original builder/rider, who also made the stand himself. All Ian has done is fit a new battery.

The Terror is representative of a time in the history of British motorcycle racing when competitive quarter litre raceware was difficult to acquire – and that available was prohibitively expensive. So those who wanted to race a ‘250’ had to come up with solutions, hence machines like this special being created.

Otherwise, a racer based on a pre-WWII 250cc sporting single (Triumph Tiger 70s, Velocette MOVs, Ariel Red Hunters, Rudges and the like) was one road to go down; while a more expensive alternative was to ‘sleeve’ down a 350 (most popularly cammy Velocettes and occasionally Manx Nortons or AJS 7Rs). Another option of course was to build something like the machine illustrated, using a relatively modern motorcycle, thus meaning that at least it won’t have been subjected to years of other stresses before conversion.

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Interesting and exciting times and it’s wonderful to see the Triumph Terror back in the limelight, representative of that period.

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