The Triumph TR3 is a British sports car produced between 1955 and 1962 by the Standard-Triumph Motor Company of Coventry, England. A traditional roadster, the TR3 is an evolution of the company’s earlier TR2 model, with greater power and improved braking. Updated variants, popularly but unofficially known as the “TR3A” and “TR3B”, entered production in 1957 and 1962 respectively. The TR3 was succeeded by the Michelotti-styled, mechanically similar Triumph TR4.
The rugged ‘sidescreen’ TR, so named for its employment of removable plexiglass side curtains, was a sales and motorsport success. With approximately 74,800 TR3s sold across all variants, the model was the company’s third best seller in the TR range, behind the TR7 (111,500 units) and TR6 (94,500 units) models. The Triumph was campaigned in races, hill climbs, and rallies across Europe and North America, with several outright, team, and class victories to its credit.
In 1957 the TR3 was updated with various changes including a full width radiator grille and this facelifted model was commonly referred to as the Triumph “TR3A”. However the cars were not badged as such and the “TR3A” name was not used officially, as is evident from contemporary sales brochures. The “TR3A” was built between 1957 and 1962.
The “TR3A” was a minor update from the TR3. The updates included the new wide front grill, exterior door handles, lockable boot handle and came with a full tool kit as standard (this was an option on the TR3). The total production run of the “TR3A” was 58,236. This makes it the third best-selling TR after the TR6 and TR7. The TR3A was so successful that the original panel moulds eventually wore out and had to be replaced. In 1959 a slightly modified version came out that had raised stampings under the bonnet and boot hinges and under the door handles, as well as a redesigned rear floor section. In addition, the windscreen was attached with bolts rather than the Dzus connectors used on the early “A” models. It is estimated that only 9,500 of the original 58,000 built survive today.
The Triumph TR3 is the first production car to include standard disc brakes, which were continued on the “TR3A” facelift. The car was known for its superior braking ability, making it an autocross favorite.
The “TR3A” is often seen in vintage and production racing today. The “TR3A”, despite being over 50 years old, is still competitive in the E-production class of SCCA (Sports Car Club of America).
In June 1977, Road & Track magazine published an article titled “Driving Impressions: TR3A & TR250” in its 30th anniversary issue. It published a 0–60 mph (97 km/h) time of 12.0 seconds, power output of 100 bhp (75 kW) at 4800 rpm, observed kerb weight of 2,090 lb (950 kg) and fuel consumption of 28 miles per imperial gallon (10 L/100 km; 23 mpg‑US).
About this car
What a beauty this is. The elegant shape and basic look, there are for instance no ‘real’ side windows, the big grill in front smiling at you … This car started it’s life in the States where it stayed until a few years ago and was transported back in the UK where it was bought by me because the production date of the car was November 11th 1959 and my birthday was November 9th 1959. Can you come any closer ever?
She was subject to a ground up restoration that was meant to create not a useable car rather than a show piece. And that is exactly what she is today. The work included a replacement of almost everything that was possible to replace. Except for the interior, this stayed very much original.
On the outside
The bodywork is strong and rust-free. The skin has some wrinkles, as we all have at a certain age. Go and stand in front of the car and there is no way you don’t start to smile. A TR3A has such a big smiling grill and two lights that look at you as if they were two tempting eyes. This 1959 example is the one with the raised stampings under the bonnet giving it even more elegance. Wire wheels, of course wire wheels are mounted. Opening the door, well we do call that little entry plate a door, you immediately will notice the door handles witch were a modification towards the TR3 and the removable plexiglass side curtains. No automatic windows here. Proceeding our journey to the back of the car you will definitely fall in love with the curved lines above the rear wheels. The boot opens and closes very well as do all doors and the bonnet. The spare wheel is hidden behind a removable piece of steel plate. Here you have to use a ‘special key’. Doing this we have a look at the condition of the bodywork in this area and can see this is also very good. Lights all around, condition is very good and all in working order. The rubber sealings are all there and very good. The Chrome parts are shiny and bright. A beautiful car.
On the inside
Even when you are taller you will be able to get into the car without having to bend yourself in three. Once behind the wheel you are in a different world. It smells like engineered stuff, it looks like engineered stuff and that is probably because the car is so well designed that everything falls into place, embracing you firm and cautious. Big dials and refined switches are at your disposal. Use it gently and watch the speedo live its own live in harmony with the rev counter. The interior is very well maintained having the right look and feel.
Open the bonnet by removing the two hairpins and you will see a well maintained four-cylinder engine right in the middle starting at the button and giving a strong and healthy sound. Immediately responding to your right food and asking for more. A two-tone air powered horn will tell anyone coming in it’s way to move over. You can see a lot of work and effort has been put into this area. The exhaust is complete and fully renewed some time ago.
Although we know that this car has been produced for the States and that we know she went back to the UK and is now part of our collection, little is known about her.
Since this car is bought by myself not only because I love TR3A’s but more specific because the production date is so close to my birthday this car is not yet for sale. Not yet because, well never say never.