Siegfried Bettmann – or how Triumph started

The history of our beloved car brand begins with one person – Siegfried Bettmann. He was the person who stood behind the Triumph Motor Company and the reason those cars actually went into production. Naturally we have a lot to thank him for and there is one really good way to do it – to know who he was, where he came from and what made him the person he become.

  • The early years

Triumph HBettmann was born on 18 April 1863 in the city of Nuremberg in Germany. When he was 22 he moved to England, choosing to settle down in the industrial town of Coventry. Curiously enough the first employment he found in his new home had nothing to do with the transportation industry. He was signed up to compile foreign dictionaries for the publications of the then prominent publishing house Kelly & Co.  It was not long after that Siegfried Bettmann managed to secure himself the position of a translator for the White Sewing Machine Co. It did not take much time until he rose in the hierarchy of the company and became a sales representative for northern Europe. Even that that early time and age Bettmann has proven to possess what it takes to become a truly great businessman and inventor. He obtain a British citizenship after he married his wife  Annie Meyrick, who was born and raised in Coventry.

  • Own Business career

PlaqueThe time came for him to start his long successful journey in the world of business. He founded S. Bettmann & Co in the middle of the 1880s. As probably many of you know, being fans of his later work, Bettmann started selling bicycles that went by the name of “Triumph” – and thus began a long line of work that eventually led to the introduction of the Triumph automobiles. The company changed its name in 1886, because Siegfried felt that it needed a more general designation that would name it easier to both remember and distinguish. That is how the Triumph Cycle Company came to life. Bettmann found funding and registered New Triumph Co. Ltd. and was joined by his first business partner, an engineer named Moritz Schulte. It was Schulte who actually first had the idea to expand the company and start working in manufacture as well as in sales.

Siegfried BettmannMeanwhile the world was changing and the first internal combustion engines saw the light of day. Fortunately for all of us, Triumph did not fall behind the new developments. In 1902 Triumph began producing motorcycles that were branded with the name of the company. The production facilities were based in Much Park Street. Initially Bettmann used Minerva engines, but soon the business flourished and they began designing their own engine, which was introduced in 1907. After WW1 the company expanded production even further, starting making cars in 1921 – and that is how it all began.

There is probably no need to tell you that Triumph 10/20 was the first of a long line of successful automobiles, while the 1927 Triumph Super 7 was the most successful of the early Triumphs, selling well into 1937.

  • The fruits of the long work

Bettmann became one of the most successful businessmen in England, which enabled him to become President of the Coventry Liberal Association, a Freemason and member of the Coventry’s Chamber of Commerce. He spent all his life in Coventry, doing hard work for the community along with his wife, on top of his business ventures. He and his family lived in a house off Elm Bank, where he eventually passed away on 23 September 1951.

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