Standard 8
Standard 8
Standard 10

Standard 8: A forgotten triumph

The Standard 8 is one of those small 1950s British cars that sold in big numbers, but is now, like the company that built it, largely forgotten.

In 1950, Standard-Triumph boss, Sir John Black, challenged his design and engineering teams to develop a modern small car.

Black insisted the car be of unitary construction, priced less than its main competitor, the Morris Minor, and deliver a reasonable profit. 

And he got what he wanted.

Called the Standard 8, it was unveiled in late 1953 at the low, low price of £481, a significant 15 per cent less than the Minor and 5 per cent less than the recently released Austin A30 and Ford Anglia/Prefect duo.

The 8’s engine was an all-new 803 cc four-cylinder OHV unit linked to a four-speed gearbox. 

That put it on par with the Morris and Austin A30, and well ahead of the side valve-powered, three-speed Fords.

The 8’s styling was as modern as anything designed in the USA, and certainly looked more svelte than the Austin and Minor. 

The interior was quite spacious for its size, beating the A30.

No doubt about it, Black had a winner on price, space and engine technology.

But, to achieve the low price, the 8 came with some cost-saving design compromises.

For starters, no boot lid opening. 

Luggage had to be loaded through the back doors and into the boot via a fold down rear seat back.

Dealers were told to promote this as a way to prevent theft of luggage.

No wind down windows either.

Money was saved by using sliding glass.

No grille, hub caps, passenger sun visor or windscreen wiper.

Yep, this car was basic.

These unappealing specifications overshadowed the car’s modern styling, interior space and the engine’s excellent fuel consumption.

In fact, the 8 quickly gained a reputation for being too cheap.

The company quickly recognised it needed a better equipped model, and so the Standard 10 was released in March, 1954.

It boasted a bigger 948 cc engine, chromed grille and all the “extras” the 8 was missing. 

A 10 four-door station wagon appeared in 1955.

Then in 1956 — a boot lid!

The Pennant was added in October, 1957.

Distinguished by a new grille, larger rear window and fins attached to its rear fenders, the Pennant sold alongside the 8 and 10.

The 8 and 10 were built in Australia in the 1950s. 

And, hold the presses, the 8 graced the cover of Wheels magazine in April, 1954.

The 10 was also exported to the USA, where 18,000 Americans bought one.

Combined, the models exceeded their sales objectives, selling over 400,000 units.

They were progressively replaced by the new Herald model during 1959-60, at the same time as Standard-Triumph was absorbed by Leyland.

The success of the 8, 10 and Pennant has always been overshadowed by Triumph’s more flamboyant models — the TR sports cars, 2000 sedans of the 1960s/70s and the Stag.

They were simple transport, sold at a low price which, 70 years ago, allowed many people to buy their first new car.

David Burrell is the editor of retroautos


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