O.K., here is the storyline update thus far – I telephoned Triumph Motorcycles Ltd., in Hinckley at 4:30 am my time, 10:30 AM in the U.K. , Tuesday, 22 April, 2008
The following are my notes from that conversation:
I spoke briefly with the woman who answers the Office phone, who was extremely nice and pleasant. I told her what I was looking for -:
Who may I speak to that can explain…
1.) Are any Triumph motorcycles fully assembled - “Made” in Thailand?
2.) What to the letters in the 11th position on the VIN denote?
She WAS very quick to say “OH, absolutely not, all of our motorbikes are made here!”, but the more I explained, I believe the more I confused her. She said they make “parts” in Thailand and the final assembly is in the U.K.
She kindly switched me over to the Manager of Customer Service / Warranty Service.
Very nice guy, sincerely polite and open minded. For now, I will leave his name out of this, as I wouldn’t want to cause any trouble for him. If he agrees, later I will mention him by name. We spoke for one hour and ten minutes total. He is going to get back to me via email, and I will hold him to it as I have his phone number and name now!
He initially stated very firmly that ALL Triumphs are assembled in the United Kingdom, and I believe that he believes this. He stated he has been with the company for four years.
He stated that in Thailand they assemble engines, fabricate frames, fabricate tanks, and coat the frames and tanks. He stated that the demand has grown so much over the past three years that they have expended their operations in both the U.K., and in Thailand.
Oddly, the more we spoke, the more the story slowly began to evolve. He stated that “some” bikes for the Asian and Australian markets were fully assembled in Thailand, and then shipped out from there. Then later he said “possibly” some of those Thailand bikes were shipped to the USA.
He had absolutely no idea what the “J” or “T” letters in the 11th VIN position stood for, and I believe that he didn’t. He stated that he thought the F2 and F4 small white tags on the frame denote which frame fabrication line they came from.
He began to loosen up a bit, and went into an explanation of how new international laws a few years ago drove the elimination of first the Union Jack Decal, then the “Made in Great Britain” metal tag to “Great Britain”, but all along the bikes were a mixture of parts and components from many different locales, just as (his quote) “Harley-Davidson and BMW” are not 100% comprised of parts made only in America and Germany respectively. He agreed that maintaining secrecy about any and all of this would probably cause more harm than good, as when people do not have the true story, there is a natural tendency to conjure and devise a story that seems fit, based upon whatever information is at hand, good or bad.
I could sense that throughout the conversation he was a little nervous, as would be expected from a surprise phone call from the states -and slightly hesitant to provide information over the phone. He continuously stated that he would “need to talk to someone”, to which I continuously requested if I could speak to that someone else who might know more about this. He stated that he had the most knowledge about VIN’s at the Hinckley Plant, and would certainly “get back to me”. I gave him my personal email #.
So… what do we have thus far? Nothing yet, but I haven’t given up. I’ll give the gentleman the benefit of doubt, and allow a full day for him to provide information. After which I’ll report once again. Remember – I don’t give up… ever!
Why is it that posters in this Forum, and in this thread know so much about the VIN’s, but the actual on site Triumph, Hinckley Manager of Customer Service and Warranty’s, who deals with VIN’s and recalls daily, doesn’t know anything about this “J”, or “T” theory?
Why is it that both he, and the woman who answered the phone, where initially 100% convinced that all Triumphs were assembled in the U.K., but both then became a little skeptical once I explained what WE thought? (Who’s convincing whom here?).
Why are we so worried about this? In the end, who cares! Story of my life – the relentless pursuit of the meaningless! I think it’s because someone earlier called me an idiot for no reason. I hate that, don’t you?
And lastly, and very sadly, we have unfortunately degraded from a simple question – “Where was my Triumph made?” to the thread being high-jacked and now being used as a tool to downgrade ALL Bonneville / Scrambler / Thruxton Triumphs as being “fakes”.
My stomach turns at this idea from our own people. Terrible, not worth mentioning.
That said I am going to continue to pursue this matter, to finally obtain documented truth, which I will or die trying. To me, it doesn’t matter where my bike was made as it is extremely high quality, thus far virtually faultless, and I truly enjoy every single moment riding it. The vast majority of Triumph riders are friendly, open-minded, unbiased, helpful and fun people. Don’t allow a few insignificant miscreants spoil the wonderful image for the majority!
One last little jibe – anyone who would state that the Triumph’s from the 50’ or 60’s were “better” than the Triumphs built today either never owned one back then, or wasn’t even old enough to ride back then.
1.) Leaking Amal Carbs spewing fuel all over the engine from vertical float bowl gaskets (what were they thinking?)
2.) Leaking petcocks constantly doing the same!
3.) Vibration so bad that you needed to wrench everything after every trip or stuff would simply fall off while riding?
4.) Vibration so bad that your hands and arms ached after medium to long rides?
5.) Mysterious Lucas electrical problems resulting in long walks home?
6.) Constantly needing to adjust contact points… with a matchbook cover?
7.) Spark plugs loading up with carbon and soot every month of riding?
8.) Engines needing total rebuilds after only 8 to 10 thousand miles?
9.) Less Horsepower than you have on a new Triumph.
10.) Less torque than you have on a new Triumph.
11.) Oil leaks, oil leaks, oil leaks… ahh memories!
Now... you CAN make these old bikes usable with modern exchange and upgrade parts, modern sealants, modern tires, and engine rebalancing. But then that’s not authentic is it?
To answer your next question – Yes, I owned a ’67 triumph that I used (when it ran!) sporadically from ’69 to ’73 while I was in college. And yes, there were a few brief shining moments that I recall as being wonderful. But there were also many heartbreaks and P.O’d moments when you had to stiff a date because the bike wouldn’t run. That “stiffed” date is now my wife of 35 years this year!!
Nostalgia has a way of tricking the memory cells and making the “old days” seem a lot better than they actually were. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the old bikes, and would have one if I had both the excess of time and money to tinker with one. But to say they are “better” is just pure silliness guys, come on!
Let’s at least stick to one pointless argument at a time!
"Those who are defensive do not understand;
those who understand are not defensive."
"Knowledge without Mileage equals bull - sh!t" (Henry Rollins)