1968 Michelotti TR5 Ginevra Prototype
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For Triumph enthusiasts, words cannot properly describe the singular importance of Giovanni Michelotti to the success and survival of the company in the Sixties and Seventies. Constantly hindered by limited development funds and hampered by a confused management situation, Michelotti’s designs enabled Triumph to differentiate itself from its competitors by offering an entirely different sense of style from those displayed by its more traditional looking rivals from BMC.
From his fertile imagination and pen sprung the Italianate lines of the TR4 and Spitfire not to mention the Stag, Dolomite and 2000 (along with others). That unmistakable styling kept the perpetually underfunded company competitive in the marketplace despite the fact that the underpinnings of the sports car range were little changed from the original TR2 (in the TR series) and the Herald (for the Spitfire and GT6).
Notwithstanding his essential contributions, he is often overlooked when the great designers are discussed despite his often stunning work for Maserati, Ferrari and BMW. Michelotti was the essentially the Rodney Dangerfield of the great designers and even his friends at Standard-Triumph would fail to treat him with due respect.
Michelotti was set to debut the Triumph Stag at the 1968 Geneva Motor Show for which he was justifiably proud (in its day, as now, the Stag was a profoundly attractive car) to show off his creation. Weeks before the show, Triumph decided to steal his thunder and display the Stag on their own stand leaving the Italian designer in the lurch with nothing to present. Not one to sulk, he rallied friends, family and employees to design a prototype for what could become the new TR6.
He obtained a rolling TR5 chassis from the factory and designed the body in 15 days. Christened the Michelotti Triumph TR5 Ginevra it was a striking design that would have made an interesting what-if. Remove the side trim from the flanks and there is an awful lot of early Seventies Ferrari and Maserati there. Of course, we know in hindsight that Karmann would perform the facelift on Michelotti’s earlier design to make the TR6 but this one off would have been a very interesting move to affordable exotic design.
No. X760 (1967, works prototype on a TR5 base).
Engine: Prototype Triumph 2-litre straight 6 no. MB73526HE with Lucas injection No. WA524B/WA3129 numbered 2967.
Power: Around 125 bhp with a top speed of some 200 km/h and fuel consumption of 9.5l/100 kms.
Gearbox: Standard TR5, 4-speed with Laycock-de-Normanville overdrive.
Transmission:Rear wheel drive.
Weight: Dry weight: 1030 kgs approx: Total weight: 1280 kgs.
Just before the Geneva Motor Show in March 1968, Giovanni Michelotti was about to organise the presentation of the new Triumph Stag on his stand. But the Standard Triumph directors had a sudden change of mind and decided to put the Stag on the official Triumph stand. This left Michelotti with a vacant space. He had to react quickly, and decided to design a prototype, which he presented as the evolution of the TR5 – the future TR6! Employees, friends and family members burned the midnight oil for 15 days and 15 nights to prepare this prototype called the TR5 Ginevra (Geneva in Italian). Michelotti obtained a TR5 chassis from the factory to build his prototype numbered X760 (prototype) as well as a 2-litre straight 6 engine (not the 2.5 version) fitted with Lucas injection. It had a standard 4-speed + overdrive gearbox.
After the show the Standard Triumph management entrusted the Karmann bodywork company with the task of designing the future TR6. The TR5 Ginevra remains a one-off much to the delight of its present-day owner.
This was the personal daily car of Giovanni Michelotti for some years after construction,for me it was a geat honour to have this unforgetable driving experience,special thanks to the kind owner and Paul Harvey from Triumph Italia 2000 club who invite me at the meeting in Italy as the official photographer & promoter of the reunion 2015 at LaMora & Torino! Vasileios Papaidis