Competitors such as the BMW 2002 had a big performance advantage, which was costing Triumph dearly, both in terms of sales and prestige. To remedy this, Triumph unveiled the Dolomite Sprint in June 1973.
A team of engineers led by Spen King developed a 2.0 SOHC 16-valve engine, and with big carbs it gave 127 bhp. In '73. 150bhp was reliably possible, but the production line was unable to build the engines to a consistent level of quality.
The design of the cylinder head won a British Design Council award in 1974.
Performance was excellent, with 0–60 mph taking 8.4 seconds, with a maximum speed of 119 mph. Trim was similar to the 1850, with the addition of standard alloy wheels (another first for a British production car), a vinyl roof, front spoiler, twin exhausts and lowered suspension. By now seats were cloth on the 1850, and these were also fitted to the Sprint.
Due to the increase in power brought by the new engine, the rest of the driveline was upgraded to be able to withstand the extra torque. The gearbox and differential were replaced by a version of those fitted to the TR and 2000 series cars, albeit with a close ratio gearset in the gearbox. The brakes were upgraded with new pad materials at the front, and the fitment of larger drums and a load sensing valve at the rear. Other changes over the standard Dolomite included the option of a LSD. The optional overdrive and automatic transmission from the 1850 model were also offered as options on the Sprint. Initial models were only offered in Mimosa Yellow, although further colours were available from 1974 on.
At launch the Sprint was priced at £1740, which compared extremely well to similar cars from other manufacturers. Prospective buyers would have been hard pressed to justify the extra £1000 cost of the BMW 2002 Tii, which offered similar performance. The four-door practicality of the Sprint also made it a very attractive proposition for the young executive choosing his first company car. The press gave the Dolomite Sprint an enthusiastic reception. Motor summarised its road test (subtitled "Britain leads the way") with glowing praise:
" ...the Sprint must be the answer to many people's prayer. It is well appointed, compact, yet deceptively roomy. Performance is there in plenty, yet economy is good and the model's manners quite impeccable ... Most important of all, it is a tremendously satisfying car to drive."
In the first series of The Professionals Bodie drove a white Dolomite Sprint.
In 1977, 62 TR7s were manufactured with the same Sprint engine as pre-production cars at Speke, Liverpool. However, this Triumph TR7 Sprint variant was cancelled with the closure of the Speke assembly plant in 1978.