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Triumph Engineering Co

[img] The company began in 1885 when Siegfried Bettmann (to the left) emigrated from Nuremberg, part of the German Empire, to Coventry in England. In 1884, aged 20, Bettmann founded his own company, the S. Bettmann & Co. Import Export Agency, in London. Bettmann's original products were bicycles, which the company bought and then sold with its own brand name. Bettmann also distributed sewing machines imported from Germany. In 1886, Bettmann sought a more general name, and the company became known as the Triumph Cycle Company. A year later, the company was renamed to New Triumph Co. Ltd. During that year, Bettmann was joined as a partner by another Nuremberg native, Moritz Schulte. Schulte encouraged Bettmann to transform Triumph into a manufacturing company, and in 1888 Bettmann purchased a site in Coventry using money lent by his and Schulte's families.

[img] The company began producing the first Triumph-branded bicycles in 1889. In 1896 Triumph initiated a factory in Nuremberg for bicycle production in Bettman's native city. In 1898, Triumph decided to extend its own production to include motorcycles and by 1902, the company had produced its first motorcycle, designed by Schulte. He decided to use single-cylinder Belgian Minerva engine with automatic inlet valve and battery/coil ignition, fitted onto a bicycle frame. In 1903, after selling more than 500 motorcycles, Triumph began motorcycle production at its unit in Germany. During its first few years producing motorcycles, the company based its designs on those of other manufacturers. In 1904, Triumph began building motorcycles based on its own designs and in 1905 produced its first completely in-house designed motorcycle. By the end of that year, the company had produced more than 250 of that design.

In 1907, after the company opened a larger plant, it produced 1,000 machines. Triumph had also initiated a second, lower-end brand, Gloria, produced in the company's original plant. In 1913 Triumph sold its German subsidiary. TWN (Triumph-Werke Nürnberg) become a separate, independently owned company. By the mid-1920s Triumph had become one of Britain's main motorcycle and car makers, with a 500,000 square feet (46,000 m2) plant capable of producing as many as 30,000 motorcycles and cars each year. A change for the worse came when Great Depression began in 1929.

[thumb:img_4.jpg] Triumph motorcycles in 20s. Photo from

In 1936, the company's two components became separate companies. Triumph always struggled to make a profit from cars, and after becoming bankrupt in 1939 was acquired by the Standard Motor Company. The motorcycle operations fared better, having been acquired in 1936 by Jack Sangster, who also owned the rival Ariel motorcycle company. That same year, the company began its first exports to the United States, which quickly grew into the company's single most important market. Sangster formed the Triumph Engineering Co Ltd. largely directed by ex-Ariel employees, including Edward Turner who designed the 500 cc 5T Triumph Speed Twin—released in September 1937, and the basis for all Triumph twins until the 1980s.

Motorcycles were produced at Coventry until World War II. After Coventry got bombed, tooling and machinery was moved to the new plant at Meriden, West Midlands. Production was restarted in 1942. After WW2 Triumph introduced several classic models designed by Edward Turner, like Triumph Tiger and Triumph Thunderbird. In 1951 the Triumph concern was sold by Sangster to their rivals Birmingham Small Arms Company. BSA continued Triumph brand, which was very succesful in USA in 60s.

[thumb:img_3.jpg] Triumph Bonneville advert

In 1970s BSA started to lose the market to Japanese brands and finally had to close all their motorcycle production. The Triumph brand was bought first by Norton Villiers, and then by Meriden Motorcycle Co-operative. Triumph Motorcycles Ltd based in Hinckley gained the name rights after the end of the company in the 1980s and is now one of the world's major motorcycle manufacturers.