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1977 Triumph Dolomite 1500HL

*** Interested parties please note, this vehicle is located in Republic of Ireland  ***

Guide Price: £18,000 - £20,000

Highlights


﹒Astonishingly low mileage
﹒Never restored!
﹒Sandglow paintwork with chestnut trim

The background


It’s rarely ever mentioned in the same breath, but the Triumph Dolomite was to Britain as BMW’s 02 series was to Germany or the Alfa Romeo Giulia to Italy - a classy, attractive and dynamic saloon with both strong performance and as much equipment as any rival.

Developed from the Triumph Toledo, itself a replacement for the venerable Herald, the Dolomite’s exotic name, a revival of a pre-war model, clothed a front-engined, rear-wheel drive platform in well-proportioned Michelotti styling. The Dolomite’s cabin was similarly sporty and elegant in equal measure, and even in early 1850HL trim was a 100mph car - though performance really picked up in 1973, when Triumph introduced the 16-valve Dolomite Sprint, its engine the first of its type in mass production.

The Sprint remained the range topper until the end of production in 1980, enjoying a successful touring car career along the way, while the rest of the range ballooned to include 1300, 1500 and 1850 variants, the latter pair available in more luxurious HL specification. It is one of those 1500HLs being offered up for sale here...

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The history


And what a special 1500HL it is. Not necessarily for the model itself, which was after all something of a mid-range variant back in 1977, and those with the extra cash to burn would no doubt have dreamed of the Sprint. But whoever first purchased this particular Dolomite on November 1st 1977 might not have known it would cover only 80 miles in the next four and a half decades.

That’s right - this Dolomite 1500HL is being sold with only 80 miles on the clock. That has remained unchanged in the current owner’s tenure, having bought the car with one mile fewer at the NEC Classic Car Show (remember shows?) from Absolute Classic Cars in Lincoln in November 2019. It was a meaningful purchase for the seller, who used to work on similar cars and whose father owned one, but ultimately the car’s amazing condition and low mileage spurred on the decision.

It’s that same low mileage that has led the seller to let go of the car too - deciding that putting the car on the road might devalue it. That’s difficult to argue with given its original and unrestored condition - ordinarily we’d encourage people to use their classics, but in this case this is one car that might be better preserved in a museum. The seller has not had to do much work to the car, simply replacing ball joint rubbers and leaving it at that.

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The paperwork


The seller notes there is not a huge volume of paperwork for the car, but what is available is pictured. That’s probably not a huge surprise given the car has hardly been anywhere, but there are still a handful of invoices and documents, the original sales invoice for the car (£3177.05 back in 1977, including taxes, delivery and licensing) and even the original tax disc, plus an original brochure for the model. The car has never had an MOT - though at over 40 years old, it’s also now technically exempt.

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The interior


Time machines might not exist, but if for some reason you wanted to go back to 1977, you could probably do far worse than to simply sit behind the wheel of this Dolomite 1500HL. It’s essentially exactly as you’d have found it had you sat in an example at your local Triumph dealer that year and, being an unrestored car, isn’t just an exacting facsimile with period-correct trim, but the real deal, unchanged for 44 years.

It’s clear buyers didn’t lose much with the HL models compared to a Sprint at the time. You still got a sporty three-spoke steering wheel, “chestnut” brown velour trim, similarly brown carpets and door trims, and a veneer of wood across the dash with its full complement of instruments. The only real notable difference was the gearknob legend, displaying the 1500’s four ratios rather than the Sprint’s five.

Forgive the history lesson because there’s really not much to say otherwise - there’s no evidence of anything untoward or unoriginal in the supplied photos, and even things like the door apertures are as clean as they come. The only thing we’d be tempted to do is replace the modern protective floor mats with something more period-correct.

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The exterior


As with the interior, the 1500HL’s exterior could pass muster for something you’d have seen in the brochure. That colour, if you’re wondering, was called “Sandglow”, and as it’s only had to cheat the wind for 80 miles in its lifetime there really is a bit of a glow to it. From the supplied photographs no blemishes are obvious, and any imperfections are likely those it left the production line with back in 1977.

The chrome brightwork is both present and correct, the tail still retains its distinctive matte black finish and the vinyl trim on the C-pillars still looks to be in original condition too, as do all the badges, lights, and the wheels and their trims. The Firestone tyres too appear to be in very good condition, but as the original items we would strongly advise anyone actually planning to use the car to have them dismounted and set aside in place of fresh rubber.

The seller has provided several photos showing the condition of the underside too, and while there’s some muckiness from the factory underseal, there’s otherwise very little of concern - certainly compared to any other car on the market that hasn’t been fully restored.

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The mechanics


We were unable to see the car in person, but the seller reports the Dolomite’s 1.5-litre single-cam four-cylinder starts well and the car drives perfectly, which may not come as a surprise given the condition of the rest of the car. The car is mechanically entirely original, something you can see clearly from peering under the bonnet, though as with the original tyres mentioned above, anyone intending to add to the car’s tiny tally of miles may be inclined to give the car a once-over in case additional miles prove a shock to its system.

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The appeal


Normally here we’d write something about embarking upon some grand road trip or using the car as a delightful weekend toy, but in this case the Dolomite’s appeal is based on its astonishing condition, and as the seller notes, driving the car any significant distance would almost certainly detract from that. Not that we’d dissuade you, after ensuring the car is fit to cover longer distances (it’d certainly be a hit at the summer car shows), but as an example of one of Britain’s more sophisticated 1970s family cars, it’d be equally at home in a private collection or museum.

Please note: Photos provided by seller

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.
Vehicle specification
  • Year 1977
  • Make Triumph
  • Model Dolomite
  • Colour Sandglow
  • Odometer 80 Miles
  • Engine size 1490
  • Location NOT STATED
Bidding history
11 bids from 6 bidders
  • martin1•••• £17,750 11/02/21
  • Pearl £17,500 11/02/21
  • martin1•••• £16,750 11/02/21
  • Pearl £16,500 11/02/21
  • martin1•••• £16,100 11/02/21
  • Pearl £15,511 10/02/21
  • martin1•••• £12,000 09/02/21
  • logan.g•••• £10,050 08/02/21
  • Tj56 £6,000 07/02/21
  • wrexham £5,100 05/02/21

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