The response to our recent post featuring the Triumph Stag – see our previous post here – Triumph Stag– was phenomenal. Whilst watching a film set in the 1950’s that featured a dashing young chap arriving to pick up his lady love in an early Triumph sports model, I decided to dig deeper into the Triumph Stags’ ancestry. I discovered that the star of the TV show was a Triumph TR2 – quite a stunner.
I have never suited the image of cordouroys, a flat cap and a pipe-smoker but these seem almost compulsory for the devotees of the sprightly, iconic and classic English sports cars.
A model described as the 20TS (unofficially the TR1) was shown at the London Motor Show in October 1952 – see below a rare photo of this prototype – to a mixed reception. The then Chairman of Standard-Triumph, Sir John Black, requested the assessment of the 20TS from BRM’s development engineer and test driver, Ken Richardson. It was so damning – a slow, poor handling death-trap – that Sir John sought Black’s help to redesign the car.
Black’s efforts resulted in substantial improvements and in March 1953, at the Geneva Motor Show, the TR2 debuted. It benefitted from a parts pool culled from the Standard Motors range that gave the TR2 excellent reliability, albeit with rather basic handling and an uncomfortable ride. It sold between 1953 and 1955.
In 1955, the TR2, as a result of minor styling changes and an upgraded engine became the TR3 – “Small Mouth”.
In 1956 Girling Disc brakes on the front were added exponentially improving the braking. Styling changes alone to the TR3 in 1957 resulted in the TR3A – as it is often described – was, for me, the nadir of good design for this series. Although far from “modern”, the TR3As were appreciated in both Europe and the US with annual production exceeding 10,000 vehicles.
In 1962 TR3B entered production and look virtually identical to the TR3A but with engine and carburetor upgrade. It was offered concurrently with the new TR4 in response to dealers concerns about the TR4 being regarded by the core audience as being too modern.
Realizing that the TR3 needed a significant facelift in 1961 Triumph engaged Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti – already well known for his work with Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and BMW – to design the TR4. His boxier body looked much more modern with a larger cabin, although under the skin it was largely a TR3 with upgraded steering. Michelotti designed extensively for Triumph, his work included the Triumph Stag.
In 1965, the TR4 became TR4A with a much improved ride, a more tuned engine and quieter exhaust.
For me the TR4 with its wire wheels and elegant lines is the definitive small English sports car.
The TR3 and TR4 saw production runs in the region of 70,000 cars each so there’s lots of potential examples out there both those that are Concours ready and those that could benefit from a significant re-build. Checking sites like http://www.hemmings.com or http://www.erclassics.com will demonstrate that a price range – depending on condition between £5,000 and £30,000.
You’ve been promising yourself that you’ll find a classic sports car to rebuild – perhaps now’s the right time.
Would a Buyer’s Guide to the TR2 and TR3’s assistant you in your quest? If so, published in July 2018 is an Essential Buyers Guide – click the AMAZON link below the image to order your copy
If a TR4 is more your thing then there is also and Essential Buyer’s Guide for this model – click the AMAZON link below the image to get your copy
You’ll, of course need a trusty Haynes Owner’s Worshop Manual – get a copy here that covers the TR2 to TR4A – please click on the AMAZON link below the image
I do appreciate that your enthusiasm may only stretch to wearing the T shirt – in this case a personalised vehicle registration plate – if so, please click on the AMAZON link below the image
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Photo Credits – with grateful thnaks – Hemings.com, Standard-Triumph