Triumph TR2, TR3 and TR4

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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.

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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.

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In 1955, the TR2, as a result of minor styling changes and an upgraded engine became the TR3 – “Small Mouth”.

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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.

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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.

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In 1965, the TR4 became TR4A with a much improved ride, a more tuned engine and quieter exhaust.

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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.

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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

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Triumph TR2, & TR3 – All models (including 3A & 3B) 1953 to 1962: Essential Buyer’s Guide

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

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Triumph TR4/4A & TR5/250 – All models 1961 to 1968 (Essential Buyer’s Guide)

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

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Haynes 0028 Car Maintenance Service Repair Manual

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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Triumph TR2, TR3, TR4, TR5, TR6, TR7 Chassis Plate T-Shirt *PERSONALISED* Model & Reg Plate (M, Charcoal)

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Photo Credits – with grateful thnaks – Hemings.com, Standard-Triumph

Mini – the best selling car in Britain

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Relatively few of us can actually remember the Sixties, there are, however, true icons that were spawned in the era of Pop Culture that have grown in popularity with the passing of time. They have cemented their place in world’s consciousness like no marketing campaign could ever achieve.

One such revered treasure is British Motor Corporation’s (BMC) truly iconic “Mini”.

A crumb of comfort to all budding design geniuses the Mini’s designer, Sir Alec Issigonis’, during his Engineering studies at the Battersea Polytechnic failed his maths paper three times. Despite this his skills were recognised by both Austin and Morris where he was employed in the late 1930’s – working on a predecessor to the Morris Minor – prior to their fusion into BMC in 1952.

After a brief stint with Alvis, in 1955 Issigonis left at the invitation of BMC’s boss Sir Leonard Lord to work with a small design team on three new designs. With the Suez Crisis in 1956 the project was scaled down to concentrate on a small car code-named XC/9003. The result was a transverse four cylinder water cooled engine and front-wheel drive which allowed a greater percentage of the car to be used for passengers. The car also featured a down-scaled rubber cone suspension system designed by Alex Moulton (the eponymous bicycle designer).

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In August 1959, the car was launched as two models, the Morris Mini Minor – the first bearing registration “621 AOK” – and the Austin Seven (later to be known as “the Austin Mini”). Issigonis’ design was initially manufactured at Longbridge and Cowley – BMC’s plants – and later made under license all over the world.  The Mini become the best selling British car in history with a production run of over 5.3 million cars.

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Variants included the Clubman, Traveller, the half-timbered Countryman, the Moke, Reilly Elf, Wolseley Hornet and the sizzling 1275GT.

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Performance versions, the Mini Cooper and Cooper “S”, were realised by Issigonis in collaboration with John Cooper who specialised in designing and maintaining racing cars. Cooper saw the potential in these small cars that drove like a go-kart on ten inch Dunlop tyres. They were hugely successful winning the Monte Carlo Rally three times.

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In 1969, a coup for early product placement, Mini’s were seen being triumphant in the film “The Italian Job” – alongside Michael Caine and Noel Coward – Aston Martin DB4/DB5

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My wife’s first car was a resprayed – from gold to red – and treasured Mini that was stolen in Streatham (South London, UK) in the early 1990’s much to her sadness.

In the mid-1970’s my Aunt Molly, simply one of the coolest people I have ever known, had a Harvest Gold version. She and her husband had lived in South Kensington and holidayed in Juan Les Pins. She wore Pringle and Ferragamo but Todds to drive in.

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BMW acquired the Rover Group (formerly British Leyland – the successor to BMC) in 1994 and sold-on most of it to other manufacturers, retaining the rights to build cars using the “Mini” name.

The last Mini – a red Cooper Sport – to made in Longbridge was built in October 2000.

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The later re-imagination of the Mini brand by BMW would have been inconceivable without the role played by the original but BMW are certainly making the most of its heritage. Launched in 2001, under the masterful eyes of designer, Frank Stephenson, the early designs of the “New Mini” embraced much of the retro feel of its predecessor and has certainly achieved the status of a classic design. Only time will tell if it achieves a similar iconic status in its own right.

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Images courtesy of BMW and others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shell Globes

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I am – or at least I was – an Oil Brat. My Dad was in the Oil business with Mobil and Esso in East Africa and then Shell in Europe. His particular skills were in the Marketing of petroleum products and he rose to be a respected member of the UK team in the 70’s and 80’s in London. He was based the iconic Art Deco Ernest Joseph designed “Shell Mex House” (SMH) at 80, The Strand below the clock on its southerly aspect we, as older kids, used to watch fireworks rise above the River Thames.

SMH was built in 1930-31, is now home to Pearson Plc, but for me it was a voyage into the an earlier era. Like its neighbour the Savoy Hotel – pre-refurbishment – SMH had wonderful touches reminiscent of the interior of the Empire State Building (started and completed in the same years as SMH) with guided column and wooden details that  sing of a time when the costs of employing a craftsmen were not prohibitive. Beautiful use of new materials with curves and details that were simply beautiful

On the walls of SMH were examples of art that had been commissioned by Shell for use in poster campaigns – featuring legendary artists such as Sir Cedric Morris, Paul Nash and Vanessa Bell – who were hired by Shell’s then (circa 1932) Advertising Manger, Jack Beddington, who consciously supported several artists’ careers. An truly great era when wonderful design was king.

However, for me there was an equally interesting area that fascinated me and which time has shown to become a highly collectable area – that of automotive art. This include the glass “trophies” that sat on top of Shell petrol pumps for several years from – at minimum – the 1930’s to 1970’s.

The first fuel dispenser was patented by Norwegian John J. Tokheim in 1901 – who’s name still appears on pumps at forecourts of filling stations around the world to this day. From around 1915 so-called “skeleton pumps”, which were often very tall, started to feature the branding of the company selling the fuel in a glass globe sitting on top of the pump. Its thought they were tall to act as a beacon to passing motorists offering available fuel.

The 1920’s and 1930’s were characterised by the need to be seen with enamel signage and globes becoming more attention grabbing. The 1950’s and 1960’s – in many ways the heyday of enamel and glass signage – led to a redesign in petrol pumps which by the 1970’s no longer incorporated these classic globes.

Our featured image shows a moulded glass petrol pump globe – classic white  clamshell. Often these were marked “Property of Shell-Mex and BP Ltd” “Returnable on Demand”.

Mine is an original dating from, I believe, the mid-1960’s and its going no where! However, I do know of someone making economical reproductions – let me know if there’s interest?

Image use with kind permission of http://www.petroliana.co.uk