Here we are piecing together an accurate time of events from the production of VDL634 to the present day.
Commission number Y154469 and Engine Number Y17641HE was built in late July early August 1960 which sounds vague to start, so let’s clarify those dates: Standard Triumph had a two week factory shutdown/holiday the first two weeks in August – it was called the Coventry Fortnight and a large number of factories and component suppliers within the area all took the fortnight off. Complete factories would stop working and shutdown, our car was being built immediately prior to this shutdown, was left for two weeks, partially built, possibly completely built, as it was despatched the first week back – 15th August 1960. It was the 22nd car to be built in August. It was despatched via the main dealer/distributor for Portsmouth, Munn & Underwood for the invoiced price of £672. 11s 6d.
At this time Standard Triumphs dealers/distributors were responsible for the final checks, running in and ultimately the quality of the cars due to be sold. It is currently unclear whether VDL went straight to Munn & Underwood (very likely) or direct to the Isle of Wight dealer Downing and Donovan. The car would have travelled via car ferry from Portsmouth to Fishbourne. More
NEW Info April 2017
Following a trip to the records office at Newport, Isle of Wight we can now confirm an earlier date for the arrival of the car at Downing and Donovan. The first advert to appear in the Ryde ‘Isle of Wight Times’ is dated Thursday, August 25th. Significant in that the car would have been able to have been on display during the Ryde Carnival which ran from August 28th through to September 4th. Victoria Street was on the route of the carnival. More
The date is also significant with the brought-forward UK launch as the new Triumph Herald convertible first appeared on the front cover of the Autocar magazine on 19th August, 1960 with ‘You Couldn’t Wait.’
Thursday, August 25th, 1960
On display at Ryde Garage, Downing and Donovan, Victoria Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight. First advert appears in the Isle of Wight Times. ‘See it, Try It, Buy It.’
Saturday, September 3rd, 1960
Isle of Wight County Press advertise both a text and display advert for Convertible Magic. See it, Try It, Buy It at Downing & Donovan. This clearly indicates the car was on the Isle of Wight – and in the showroom on this date. The convertible was advertised for £766. At this point the car was not registered and would have probably been a static display. More
September, October & November 1960
The convertible was continued to be advertised in the local newspaper both as text and display adverts.
Is this the car on display here?
Wednesday 2nd November, 1960
Downing and Donovan Limited, incorporation date. The company becomes owned by Reginald Shotter and (later) run by (son) Ralph Shotter.
Saturday December 3, 1960
Local advert. Text ad. New Cars Available. Convertible demoted to third in position. (From being first in the listing since September).
Thursday 8th December, 1960
Registered as VDL634. Mr Green, Ventnor.
Saturday December 17, 1960
Text ad. New Cars Available. Convertible in third in position.
Saturday December 24, 1960
Text ad. New Cars Available. NO convertible listed.
Saturday January 28, 1961
Learn to Drive with Downing and Donovan Limited advert appears.
Monday 9 January 1961
Recorded mileage is 1,330. The service book is stamped at Ryde Garage. (Downing & Donovan)
Recorded mileage is 11,698. VDL634 is at Aedy’s Garage for prep to sell. Pencilled in writing. H J Aedy. (Harold James Aedy). Red Road Garage (Turning opposite Post Office). Morris Dealer, Sunbeam, Humber. Wootton. Tel: Wootton Bridge 195. More
NB. The mileage is high – on such a small island, how could this mileage be achieved? One theory is the car was used as a Learn to Drive, instructor car, as Downing and Donovan first advertised lessons – but this was winter – and the mileage is still very high! More likely the car travelled to the mainland of England – or Europe.
Letter response from Standard Triumph regarding seatbelts and the collapsible dashboard
To be continued…