Autocar described the Triumph 2500 PI estate as “equally at home in town or country – a workhorse you could take anywhere”. But not quite anywhere, which is why a Swiss doctor commissioned Ferguson Research to create a four-wheel drive version of the Triumph wagon.
For 11 years, the hills were alive with the sound of the Triumph’s 2.5-litre straight-six engine, which, in standard form, could hit 60mph in 11.4 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 106mph. With the pioneering Ferguson Formula system at his disposal, the good doctor could ensure these figures were achievable on all roads and (nearly) all conditions. He sold the Triumph in 1984, with the new owner using it at his Swiss holiday home.
It was re-sold in 2000 and restored over a three-year period, before hitting the market in 2015. Then, it sold for CHF 48,500, which is significantly less than the current highest bid of €6350 (£5500) on The Market website.
Although it looks like a standard Mk2 Triumph 2500 PI estate, the raised suspension, black bonnet and ‘power bulge’ offer a hint of something special. In 2015, the company responsible for the restoration said the following: “The car is worth every penny – it is pristine and to the exact specification it left Ferguson back in the days.
“There is no Maxaret ABS system fitted and yes, the engine was moved upwards and tilted a little to make room for the front diff and driveshafts. They’d constructed a front subframe and altered the gearbox tunnel to fit all the extra mechanics to drive the front wheels.”
It has covered just 74km since the restoration and is said to come with history and photographs detailing the car’s unique provenance. If you need some encouragement to place a bid, this photo of the car in the snow should provide a suitable nudge. Because all cars look better in the snow – especially when wearing Swiss number plates.
The Jensen FF is the car most associated with Harry Ferguson’s genius, but today’s go-anywhere estate cars can trace their roots back to Triumph’s one-off 2500 PI 4×4. It’s also worth noting that Subaru is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Subaru Leone 4WD estate, which debuted when the doctor was taking delivery of the Triumph. Another missed opportunity for the British car industry?
There were many other Ferguson conversions, including a pair of Triumph Stags, a 2500 PI saloon and another 2500 PI estate with a Stag V8 engine. Other special conversions or prototypes include a Mk4 Ford Zephyr Estate, a few Ford Capris – if you missed our feature on the promising all-wheel drive Capri, click here to find out why it never made production – multiple versions of the Ford Mustang, Reliant Scimitar and a pair of Volvos.
FF Developments, the company founded by Major Tony Rolt when the estate of Henry Ferguson ceased to fund further research, engineered the prototype for the AMC Eagle – the first mass-produced car to feature full-time 4WD. It also partnered with Ford to develop the drivetrain for the RS200 and Sierra XR4x4, and famously converted Opel Senators to four-wheel drive for use behind the Iron Curtain.
The Triumph 2500 PI Estate 4×4 is one of Ferguson’s less well-known creations; a Michelotti-penned estate car with a straight-six engine and four-wheel drive is a highly appealing prospect. With just a couple of days to go until the auction ends, it could sell for a bargain price.