The Triumph Quadrant

A home-built version of Triumph's forgotten prototype

| January/February 2009

Triumph Quadrant Special
Claimed power:
75hp @ 7,250rpm
Top speed: 125mph
Engine: 987cc OHV, air-cooled inline four
Weight (dry): 261kg (575lb) (est.)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 22ltr/25mpg(est.)

The 4-cylinder Triumph Quadrant prototype put together at Triumph’s development shop in Kitts Green, Birmingham, England, in the 1970s under the leadership of Doug Hele is well documented. That it never reached production to take on the might of the Japanese multis is something now consigned to the history books. But why talk about “if only” when you can build your own?

If you’ve ever carried out a restoration or customizing project, you can identify with all of the frustrations and setbacks that come along with getting even the most humble machine running and roadworthy again.

If you’ve ever faced a box full of gleaming new paintwork and glistening chrome, only to realize the notes you made when you stripped it all down are less than comprehensive or the wiring is now strangely unfathomable, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. For some people, of course, the challenge of just restoring a machine isn’t enough, so they go several steps further to create an original machine. George Pooley is one of those people.

First sight
I first saw George’s impressive Triumph Quadrant Special at the 2005 International Classic Motorcycle Show in Staffordshire, England, where it took home the trophy for the best classic special, and I was delighted when George invited me to take it for a ride. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that, having previously owned six triples, George is both a fountain of knowledge on Triumph triples and a highly accomplished engineer. The Triumph Quadrant (rhymes with Trident) is not the first special to come from George’s well-equipped workshop. In 1993, the same show saw the debut of a 1,500cc Triumph six. This was an amazing concoction featuring the top end from two T160 triples joined together in a common crankcase to form a V6. Along with several other embryonic projects, the Triumph six still resides in his workshop.

As the thousands of show goers who admired the Triumph Quadrant at the Stafford show will testify, it looks anything but a “backyard special,” and is testimony to the quality of George’s workmanship. A working career that started as an under-paid apprentice engineer in 1969 was followed soon afterward by his first motorcycle, a Royal Enfield Clipper. The association with the Enfield gave George an insight into the mechanical side of motorcycling, though he quickly had his sights set on something sportier.

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