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Triumph Motorcycles

Triumph Tiger 90 1937 New Zealand

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1937 Triumph Tiger 90 500cc OHV FRAME. TH1401937 ENG. 2T62367


One of the most important motorcycles designed by Triumph, the Tiger series, quite literally saved the marque from collapse. Struggling to survive, Triumph had been losing money for six years during the Great Depression and was under strong pressure from its board to concentrate on car production ñ an entirely unpalatable suggestion for a company with such a strong two-wheeled heritage. However, inspiration came from an unlikely quarter: Ariel Motorcyclesí Managing Director Jack Sangster had brought his company ëback from the blackí with the legendary Ariel Square Four and was persuaded by its then legendary designer, Edward Turner, to take over Triumph.

Doing so in 1936, Sangster appointed Turner to run the Triumph motorcycle division; on top of this, Bert Hopwood was offered the role as head designer. The dream team was created and, in 1937, they announced the Tiger series. Designing a new range of fast, lightweight machines which were marketed as the Tiger 70, 80 and 90 (with the model number representing the top speed), Turner, a brilliant stylist, transformed the Val Page-designed overhead-valve singles by adopting sports-specification engines, high-level exhausts, chromed fuel tanks and of course the new name: ëTigerí. Frames, forks, engines and gearboxes were all improved for 1937 and a trio of randomly selected Tigers successfully completed a series of arduous speed trials to secure the Maudes Trophy for Triumph later in the year. Today, Turnerís Tigers are widely recognised as the most stylish sports roadsters of the period and thus are highly sought-after.

Producing a creamy 90mph, the 1937 T90 was a brilliant performer on the road and an absolute stunner on the showroom floor. The genius of Edward Turner and Bert Hopwood is evident throughout this design. The Tiger 90 is, without question, a critical juncture in the history of Triumph motorcycling.

Courtesy Webbs NZ