Although the Dolomite proved to be refined and rapid, competitors such as the BMW 2002 had a 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, although the launch had been delayed by a year; it had been due to go on sale in 1972.

A team of engineers led by Spen King developed a 16-valve cylinder head with all of the valves being actuated using a single camshaft rather than the more conventional DOHC arrangement. The capacity was also increased to 1,998 cc (122 cu in), and combined with bigger carburettors the output was upped to 122 lb⋅ft (165 N⋅m) at 4,500 rpm and 127 bhp (95 kW) at 5,700 rpm. This represented a significant power increase over the smaller 1850cc variant, however it fell short of the original target of 135 bhp (101 kW).

Despite BL engineers being able to extract a reliable 150 bhp (112 kW) from test engines, the production line was unable to build the engines to the same level of quality, with production outputs being in the region of 125 bhp (93 kW) to 130 bhp (97 kW). This led to the original model designation, the Dolomite 135, being replaced at short notice with the Sprint name.

As a result of the use of this engine, the Dolomite Sprint has been claimed to be "the world's first mass-produced multi-valve car".[5] While other multi-valve engines (notably the Lotus 907) were produced in volume, they were not used in mass production vehicles until after the introduction of the Dolomite Sprint. The design of the cylinder head won a British Design Council award in 1974.[6] 0–60 mph acceleration took around 8.4 seconds, with a maximum speed of 119 mph (192 km/h). 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. The seats were now 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 limited slip differential. The optional overdrive and automatic transmissions 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 its launch, the Sprint was priced at £1,740, which compared extremely well to similar cars from other manufacturers. 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.

A press release dated May 1973, from BL's public relations department, states "To acknowledge the Dolomite Sprint's performance the Triumph sports car colour range will be used, with the first 2,000 cars finished in Mimosa with black trim. Other distinguishing features are a black simulated leather roof covering, contrasting coachlines along the body and new badges."[8]

From May 1975 on, overdrive and tinted glass were standard. In addition, all Sprints were fitted with body side trims, a plastic surround for the gearlever, and a driver's door mirror. Headrests were now available as an optional extra. From March 1976 headrests, a radio, and laminated windscreen were standard. In 1978, laminated windscreens became a standard fitment and in 1980, to comply with UK legislation, twin rear fog lamps were also standard.

As with many other British Leyland cars of the period, a number of "special tuning" options were available for the Dolomite Sprint, offering dealer fitted upgrades to the car that included larger carburettors, freer flowing exhaust systems, and competition camshafts. These upgrades were designed by the factory race team and offered in order to homologate the tuning parts for competition purposes.

In 1977, a number (probably 62) of Triumph TR7s with the same Sprint engine were manufactured as pre-production cars at Speke, Liverpool.[9] However, this Triumph TR7 Sprint variant was cancelled with the closure of the Speke assembly plant in 1978.

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