The Triumph That Growls: 1953 Triumph T100C Tiger

With a claimed 42hp, the hopped up Triumph T100C has a 10hp advantage over the standard T100 Tiger.

1953 Triumph T100C Tiger

1953 Triumph T100C Tiger

Photo by Phillip Tooth

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1953 Triumph T100C
Claimed power: 42hp @ 7,000rpm (claimed)
Top speed: 109mph (period test)
Engine: 498cc air-co­­­­oled OHV parallel twin, 63mm x 80mm bore and stroke, 8.25:1 compression ratio
Weight (dry): 330lb (149.7kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4gal Imp/4.8gal U.S. (18ltr)
Price then/now: $563 (approx.)/$5,000-$16,000

When Triumph announced that its alloy-engined Grand Prix production racer would no longer be in their lineup after 1949, fans of British bikes were praying that it wouldn’t be the end of the road for go-faster twins from Meriden.

The 500cc GP was based on the bike that Irish farmer Ernie Lyons had raced to victory in the 1946 Isle of Man Manx GP — hence the name of the production version. Lyon’s Triumph used a modified Tiger 100 sprung hub chassis, while the engine was basically a T100 bottom end with a lighter, sandcast alloy cylinder barrel and head in place of the cast iron Tiger components. The alloy castings were made for a wartime generator, which was why both inlet and exhaust ports were parallel to each other.

With twin Amal carburetors fed by a remotely mounted float chamber and megaphone exhausts, dropped handlebars, 8-inch brakes, alloy wheel rims and fenders, and a 4-gallon (Imperial) gas tank, the Grand Prix production racer was dyno tested at 40 horsepower and was good for 120mph. That was pretty fast back then, and although the engine was never as reliable as a Manx Norton, the noise from the twin megaphones was gorgeous.

Only 175 were made before Triumph boss Edward Turner called time, but things started looking up when he announced that the new T100 would be at the London motorcycle show before the year was out. With close-finned die-cast alloy barrels, an alloy cylinder head sporting bigger inlet valves and 7.6:1 compression pistons the Tiger delivered 32 horsepower and a top speed of 96mph. Not bad for a road bike running on low octane fuel.

Order the January/February 2015 issue of Motorcycle Classics to read more about the 1953 Triumph T100C. Contact Customer Service at (800) 880-7567 or contact us by email.