At least they were meant to be like that from the beginning. The tale of the Triumph Dolomite Sprint, though, is much stranger.
The Sprint, built from 1973 to 1980, was the fastest, most expensive and most desirable of a range which began with the Triumph 1300 in 1965, a car with a very different character. I like the 1300. It looked much like a smaller, stub-tailed version of the early Triumph 2000. It was the first Triumph with its dashboard warning lights arranged in a pie-chart, or like slices of a round cake, and it had ingenious fold-flat window winder handles designed not to impale your thigh in a side impact. They were a pain to use, though, and post-1300 were not seen again to my knowledge.
Most intriguingly, the 1300 was Triumph's first front-driver. Its engine, longitudinally mounted, sat above its gearbox, making a clutch change easy from within the passenger compartment. I performed this task once, on a friend's 1300. She was convinced the 1300 was rear-wheel drive, because an 'expert' had told her it was, but had to concede the point – rather reluctantly I thought – when I opened the bonnet and pointed out the driveshafts.
A twin-carb 1300 TC joined the range, a rare car which would be an enjoyably lively curio today. Then the nose was squared off and given quad headlamps, the tail was lengthened, the engine enlarged and the 1500 was the result. At the same time (1970) a cheaper, lower-spec member of the family was launched, with the squared nose (minus the quad headlamps) but retaining the 1300's tail. And unprecedentedly, unbelievably and at an investment, cost offset only by the cheaper, simpler components that could now be used, this economy model (the Toledo) was now propelled not by its front wheels but its rears.
Two years later, Triumph launched the mildly sporting Dolomite, with the 1500's body, the Toledo's rear-wheel drive and a new 1854cc engine, a slightly smaller version of which Triumph had already been selling to Saab for its 99. A year on, in 1973, Triumph's FWD adventure was over as the 1500 TC, with rear-wheel drive, replaced the 1500. This whole family of cars ultimately ended up with the Dolomite name and the long tail, an obvious marketing move given that the ultimate Dolomite – the Sprint, also a 1973 launch – was quite a hit with the critics.