VDL634 New Facts

Fab NEW facts unearthed – a bit long winded but some amazing finds. This was a car with a MASSIVE history file and yet you could still find out even more. If you, like me, like the history behind your car do the research now before it’s too late and gone forever!

Background: Dispatched from Coventry August 1960 via the main distributor Munns and Underwood of Portsmouth.

1. The car was first shown in September 1960 in the showroom of Downing & Donovan (the Triumph main dealer) and was present for the rest of the year. The only 948cc Herald convertible offered to view in the local IOW newspapers throughout 1960. There is a newspaper advert referring to the car being in the dealership on view.

Important ST Background Bit
There was a strict hierarchy to sell a Triumph car. The Area Dealer, in this example, was Downing and Donovan. D&D had no direct contact with Standard Triumph in Coventry and had to go through the ‘Distributor’, in this case being Munns and Underwood in Portsmouth. Unbelievably in 1959/1960 Standard Triumph in Coventry did not have any quality control system of sorts with finished cars and it was the responsibility of the Distributor to ensure that each car (upon delivery – or more often than not collection from Canley) was good enough to be sold. Distributors would sell cars direct to customers and also supply Area Dealers with their cars.

Each year Distributors and Area Dealers would sign new contracts to keep their distributor/area dealer status based on sales.

A third tier of garages could also sell cars and offer spare parts however, these garages wouldn’t always get the cars they wanted – if they requested a red and white Coupe but could only be offered a coffee Saloon due to mass shortages of cars and parts it was kind of tough. These garages could then contact other Distributors for their cars but often had to pay more to get these cars, thus cutting margins however, there are records of a Northern Distributors supplying garages in the South, because the local distributors could not get the cars.

So with the evidence of newspaper adverts and the ‘history’ of how the distribution of cars worked in 1960 you can see how the ‘little garages’ couldn’t ever compete with the bigger guys in the next town. On the Isle of Wight, only one Area Dealer could offer the full range of a convertible, a coupe and saloon – a couple of garages coupes and saloons – one garage ONLY saloons. It was a bit of a mess!

back to the ‘new’ discoveries:
2. The car was first ‘sold’ later than I thought. I had assumed, upon first registering, on 8th December as VDL634 however, the car was (likely) retained by the dealer and later ‘prepared for sale’ between July and August 1961.
3. A local garage H.J. Aedy (Red Road Garage) prepared the car for sale – including ‘checked, greased etc’ the mileage covered at this point was 11,698. Which was quite high. Subsequent annual mileages with the first owner were c2-3,000 miles.

The last ‘availability’ of a 948cc convertible available to view was December 17th – after which no mention of the convertible appeared again in the local press.
What was the car used for in the first half of 1961? Interestingly Downing and Donovan first started to offer Driving Tuition in the spring of 1961 – was the car used for this? A works car?
We also have a breakdown of miles covered during this period – and an indication of good servicing with oil changes etc – 9th Jan, covered 1,330 miles, 7th March 3,500 miles, 21st May 6,050 miles, 2nd July 9,040 miles – up to the ‘sale’ mileage of 11,698. It is a lot of miles to cover on a little island!
There is no record of any other dealer having the car on the Island to view for the first half of 1961, yet garages were desperate to show the ‘new’ convertible however by this time there was snow on the ground – always a hard sell!

Once the ‘New’ 1200 cars came in, distribution channels were getting far better and the Dial for a Drive campaign was launched resulting in VDL634 being ‘old stock’

4. The car was sold and moved to the other side, the west side, of the island – to the ‘first’ real/recorded owner where VDL634 lived for the next 24 years. (1984)
NB. VDL634 was part exchanged for a brand new Volkswagen. The first owners wife did not want to sell.

6. VDL634 is called Rosie
7. Rosies second owner spotted her for sale in Canterbury and had been after a Herald Convertible for several years. Rosie was purchased for the asking price of £1,895, without haggling. (1984)
8. Rosie ‘moved’ homes three times during her time with the second owner around Herne Bay (again, like the first owner by the sea) and period photos now have positive locations – and dates taken.
9. The family often took foreign exchange students from Germany, Italy and France and always collected the students in Rosie, much to the delight of the visitors. When new students arrived they always wanted to stay with the Red Convertible lady!
10. A brand new hood was bought for £40 – but never fitted, it remained in the boot when the car was sold. It was subsequently lost/sold as the current hood retains the dealer sticker from Canterbury in 1984.
11. Rosie was always garaged and only used on sunny days typically June, July and August.
12. Rosie covered very low mileage during this time (2,964 miles) and the annual MOT garage once commented they could “post the car back”
13. The newspaper article has text. I had a grainy image but no record of the article printed in the local paper
14. When the owners retired and moved (to their current) sea view home there was no garage so Rosie had to be sold. She was advertised for sale for £4,000, the new owners turned up with £4,000 in an envelope and offered the full asking price, without haggling. (2001)

NB: The house does now have garaging and the owner stated that Rosie would never have been sold if she could have been safely stored.

Finally, the photo was ‘new’ too.


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