I dont think I have ever seen one of these though I might have seen it ont he lawn at Pebble. 1967 Trident Clipper, a rare and unusual car with a cool history.
Powered by a 289 cid high performance Ford V8, the Trident Clipper was the result of a convoluted and colorful series of events that would eventually lead to the construction of a handful of these interesting cars. The Trident was originally to built on a TVR Grantura Mark III chassis, bodied by Fissore, and was intended to be a more coherently styled car to “clean up” their model line, but after they encountered serious financial troubles and strikes, the project eventually was taken on by a TVR dealer, who chose to have the body reengineered to work with an Austin-Healey 3000 chassis. It was widened and the suspension modified to take the V8, and the fiberglass body. In an interesting side-note, during the construction of the prototype, Fissore employed Italian hardware, electrics, and wiring harness, instead of the English components specified by the contract and supplied to Fissore with the drawings. Lawyers were retained and the eventual result was the return of production to the United Kingdom after much name-calling. The car itself provided remarkable performance, with a claimed 0-60 time of about five seconds, a top speed of 150mph, and 14.3 seconds for the quarter mile. Very few of the cars were built with the handsome fiberglass body, and only the first six or so were equipped with the clamshell bonnet as this car is. In total, 29 Clippers were built with this V8 powerplant, and another 100 or so more with a 3 litre Ford V6. This particular car was sold new by International Motors in Austin, Texas and is believed to have covered less than 7400 miles from new. By the early 1990’s, the car was in need of some work, so it was comprehensively and professionally restored, and was completed in 1993. It has seen little use since and thus remains in excellent condition. As such tremendously unique and interesting cars, Tridents have somewhat of a cult following in the United Kingdom, in recognition of their remarkable contemporary performance, and unique historical significance. Some of this enthusiasm has clearly crossed both the Atlantic and the continental United States however, as this car was invited to be exhibited at Pebble Beach, where it was subsequently shown in 1996. Also of note is that this car was featured in Automobile Quarterly in 1999. The quality of the restoration is very high, with the owner at the time of the restoration noting that it exceeded the original build quality by huge margins. Consequently, the car is in excellent cosmetic condition with high quality paint with very minimal wear and excellent gaps, even around the large but surprisingly light from bodywork clip. The chrome is in very good to excellent condition throughout, including on the wheels, which are extremely nice. The glass and lenses are excellent, and the headlamps are a pair of period Lucas items. The interior has an extremely evocative period feel with its twin “pods” and cluster of informative gauges in front of the driver. There is a pair of small +2 seats in the back, which fold down to enlarge the luggage capacity. The downward sloping beltline means that the bottom edge of the rear window is about even with the driver’s elbow, which provides visibility that is so good as to be startling the first time the driver sits in the car. The remainder of the interior is typical English fare from the 60’s, with a smattering of wood accents and ancillary switches, as well as leather upholstery. The condition is excellent throughout, indicating the car’s low mileage and careful preservation since the restoration. The engine compartment was restored to high standards as well, and the car impresses with its placement of the engine, which is located entirely aft of the front axle. The car operates as it should, with the tight coherent feel of a very low mileage car. The exhausts provide a wonderful and familiar soundtrack, while the Borg-Warner top loader provides nice short shift throws. This is an extraordinarily rare opportunity to acquire one of these remarkable cars. They present an intriguing “might have been” in motoring history, and the handsome coachbuilt styling, proven chassis and powertrain, and performance make this car a wonderful blend of usability and utmost rarity.