Cars for Sale

1934 Triumph Dolomite 8C

1934 Triumph Dolomite DMH1 ex-Donald Healey and Monte Carlo Rally

  • One of two “English Alfas” modelled after the world-beating Alfa 8C 2300, and the only car completed by Triumph
  • 1935 Monte Carlo Rally with Donald Healey, famously encountering a locomotive, rebuilt to compete again in 1936
  • Eight-cylinder twin cam(a copy of Alfa's 8C 2300 engine) Rootes-type supercharger, pre-selector gearbox
  • Restored and later refreshed by Blakeney Motorsport, offered from UK collection with an extensive history
  • An automotive unicorn, highly eligible for the greatest events

One of only two ever produced and nearly mythical in significance and rarity, the 8C Dolomite was a sensational special project by Triumph and rally driver Donald Healey, intended as a world-class British sports car and inspired by the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300.

After Bentley’s demise, the Dolomite was conceived as a first-class British sports car to challenge Continental rivals, at a luncheon between Triumph’s Donald Healey, journalist/racing driver Tommy Wisdom and Col. Claude Holbrook. An Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 was obtained, and in reverse-engineering fashion disassembled and a close English likeness produced. Despite false legends of an ensuing lawsuit, Donald Healey records this was done without objection from Alfa, and with the blessing of the great designer Vittorio Jano. The supercharged eight-cylinder engine was superficially identical to the Alfa, with twin four-cylinder blocks and a central gear-train driving the camshafts – however nearly all dimensions were imperial and displacement was just under 2-litres.

Just one Dolomite was completed in full by Triumph (DMH 1), alongside a chrome plated show chassis (DMH 2) and a spare chassis. Finished for Donald Mitchell Healey, DMH1 promisingly reached 102.47 mph at Brooklands, as reported by Brian Twist in the Autocar of 5 October 1934. “When we reached Brooklands track after a most soul-satisfying run, I was prepared to admit that it was indeed a road car but a road car of road cars.”

Famously entered in the 1935 Monte Carlo Rally for Donald Healey with co-driver Lewis Pearce, the aim was for DMH 1 to win outright in a publicity coup for Triumph. Starting in the dead of winter from the Swedish coastal town of Umeå some 2,346 miles from the finish line, the fates famously intervened – reaching a level-crossing she encountered a locomotive, putting an end to the Monte, the front-end damage fortunately leaving the occupants unharmed with even the windscreen intact. Retaining as much as possible and rebuilt using a spare chassis, the Dolomite competed successfully in the ’36 Monte Carlo Rally starting from Tallinn, becoming the first British car to finish in Monaco.

A casualty of the 1930s economic climate and Triumph’s wider circumstances, the Dolomite project was abandoned and the model never entered production. In the summer of 1936, the surviving Dolomite (DMH 1), a spare chassis (DMH 2) and a collection of parts and drawings were disposed to the teenage Anthony (Tony) Rolt, who of course went on to win Le Mans for Jaguar in 1953 with Duncan Hamilton. After Rolt’s ownership the lot was acquired by High Speed Motors, a mews outfit in Bayswater operated by Robert Arbuthnot and Bunty Scott-Moncrieff. Both were rebodied by Corsica and resold, with DMH2 reborn as an HSM with certain modifications by Giulio Ramponi. Intervening years saw further changes of ownership, and the Dolomites disappeared into obscurity for decades.

All that changed from 1979, when the legendary Dolomites finally broke cover. Dealer Dan Margulies (also operating from Queens Gate Place Mews like Fiskens) first advertised DMH 2, then in December 1980 also acquired DMH 1 from Hanno Ascher, who casually remarked on a visit to the showroom “I’ve got one of those, too.” Refinished in red and passing first to Ares Emmanuel then Barrie Price, she was then purchased by noted collector Fuad Majzub for daughter Claudia Marcus. The day after finishing a mechanical restoration by Duncan Ricketts, DMH 1 joined the ’94 Mille Miglia, amazingly with another locomotive near-miss. In 2006 she went to Claude Gratzmuller of Belgium – with limited vision, friends conducted the Dolomite to numerous events.

Acquired in 2011 by Jonathan Turner, DMH 1 was entrusted in 2013 to Patrick Blakeney-Edwards for a comprehensive restoration. These works included refurbishment of the surviving Corsica body, refinished in blue and with reinstatement of the chrome waistline trim evoking Donald Healey’s competition body. With a fitting debut in the RAC 1,000-mile trial of 2014, Turner’s ownership was truly enthusiast-led, with the Dolomite appearing at a multiplicity of events including Hampton Court and at Goodwood, Silverstone, Donington, the Flying Scotsman Rally and more. Turner’s verdict: “Is the 8C Triumph the best pre-war car ever made? Surely, for an Englishman, it has to be?”

Noble in conception and with outstanding historical significance as set out in a full-length history by Jonathan Wood, the two Dolomites retain near-mythical status among the most discerning collectors, and generate excitement and interest whenever they appear. Even more special being the Monte Carlo example for Donald Healey, DMH 1 is offered from a UK collection in outstanding condition, being recently refreshed once more by Blakeney Motorsport. Tremendous to drive and hugely exclusive, this 8C Dolomite will be a fabulous entry to the world’s greatest motoring events.