TRIDENT CARS 1966 - 1976
Trident Cars Limited has its origins in an established Ipswich company called Viking Performance. Viking Performance were TVR distributors for the whole of East Anglia and were producers of the Viking Hornet Sprint and Viking Sport and built Ford 10 race engines for Frank Nichols of Elva Cars. The company was eventually to become Trident Cars Limited.
In 1965 Fissore of Italy designed and produced the bodies for four TVR Trident prototypes, three coupes and one convertible. (All of these vehicles still exist, one coupe and the convertible in Britain in running order and the others in USA & Belguim both under restoration.)>
The exciting promise of this project never went beyond the four prototypes with TVR. During the manufacture of these prototypes Viking Performance were offered the chance to purchase TVR. This they turned down but showed some interest in the Trident project. TVR chairman Arnold Burton put TVR into liquidation.
Viking Performance managed to buy/obtain the Trident project together with thirty Ford 289 V8 engines ordered by TVR but unpaid for. After some wrangling with Fissore over the design of the first Trident and then payment, the first Trident was collected at the eleventh hour from Italy to be shown for the first time at the Racing Car Show in January 1966.
This convertible with 289 engine was the first of approximately 85 Tridents produced during the period 1966 to 1976, finally disappearing in 1978.
The thirty engines were used in the Clipper, fitted into the standard Austin Healey 3000 chassis with standard suspension. In 1970 with the Healey chassis supply coming to an end the Clipper continued in production on a lengthened TR 6 chassis again with standard chassis and suspension. This set up was also used for the Venturer with Ford Essex V6 engine, the most numerous model produced. The Clipper continued in production along side the Venturer and finally the Tycoon was produced using standard Triumph 2.5 PI engine with automatic gearbox. This takes the story to 1974 when financial difficulties were encountered but a revival came with a new Clipper with 360 cu. in. American V8 engine and rubber bumpers, with big ambitions in the American market. But after showing a blue right hand drive vehicle at the 1976 motor show, a left hand drive vehicle was produced but no more.
During these ten years the body shape changed little, all models being essentially from the same body mould. The front headlight arrangement changing for better or worse depending on whose view you seek. In terms of practically the introduction of the much needed rear hatch in 1971 was the most important revision. With quarter bumpers superseding full width bumpers very early on. The majority of cars left the factory without facility for a spare wheel but usually on chrome or painted wire wheels. Change still takes place, owners frequently change the frontal appearance of the vehicle, still unable, much the same as the factory to decide on what has style.
The whereabouts/fate of around 55 of approximately 85* cars produced is known and the Club believes that only 19-25 are currently in running order throughout the world.
* Previously reported as 130 vehicles, but following extensive research and monitoring by Club members with input of some factory staff, the total has been revised downward to 85, with an approximate split of the three models to 30 Clipper/V8 cars, 49 Venturers and 6 Tycoons. Early V8's were not designated Clipper. Similarly there is one original V6 which came long before the Venturer and is called a GT.