A solid original New Mexico car with a recent body-off restoration, this Triumph has the factory rear seat. Factory-quality patch panels were used where needed. Priority was placed on originality and drivability. The chrome has been replated, and the interior was completely re-covered with leather seat trim. The full engine rebuild was performed with 87 mm pistons, enlarging displacement to more than 2.1 liters. Internal engine parts have been balanced, and the transmission was rebuilt. Every major mechanical item on the car has been rebuilt, repaired or replaced. A solid original New Mexico car with a recent body-off restoration, this Triumph has the factory rear seat. Factory-quality patch panels were used where needed. Priority was placed on originality and drivability. The chrome has been replated, and the interior was completely re-covered with leather seat trim. The full engine rebuild was performed with 87 mm pistons, enlarging displacement to more than 2.1 liters. Internal engine parts have been balanced, and the transmission was rebuilt. Every major mechanical item on the car has been rebuilt, repaired or replaced.

Special features and modifications:

• Correct A-type overdrive rebuilt and in perfect working order.
• Full weather equipment, including new top, fully rebuilt side curtains, new tonneau cover and convertible boot cover. All in new condition.
• Rack-and-pinion steering upgrade for dramatically improved driving experience. Installation done to allow use of original steering wheel and turn signals.
• Upgraded cooling system, including enlarged heater core, upgraded water pump and electric cooling fan.
• Pertronix electronic ignition system. Eliminates ignition points, very reliable, fits inside original distributor.
• Spin-on oil filter simplifies service.

Although this car has not been entered in any shows at this point, the current owner is confident that it would be able to do so with success.

SCM Analysis

Detailing

Vehicle:1960 Triumph TR3A roadster

This car, Lot 496, sold for $45,100, including buyer’s premium, at the Auctions America Fort Lauderdale, FL, sale on March 17, 2012.

The TR3A family tree traces its roots to the 1952 London Motor Show at Earls Court, where the Triumph Type 20TS (sometimes called the TR1) debuted. Built on a pre-World War II Standard chassis and with a dual-carb version of the Standard Vanguard engine, it owed much to pre-war styling and mechanicals.

After World War II, the British pretty much resumed automobile production where they had left off: building 1930s cars. The post-war economy in Britain favored exporting — and bringing in foreign currency — over innovation, and this, combined with supply shortages in all industries, discouraged dramatic departures from past practices. Therefore the times largely dictated use of off-the-shelf engines and other technology, and these conditions continued to prevail well into the 1950s. The Type 20TS was such a car.

However, shortly after the 1952 Earls Court show, Ken Richardson was hired to manage development of the car. It eventually became designated the TR2, with its own purpose-built chassis, and the Vanguard engine was developed to produce 90 horsepower. Coincidentally, the original Austin-Healey also made its debut at the same motor show, and also produced 90 horsepower in original form. Performance of the two models was also similar, with each breaking the 100-mph barrier in testing during the spring of 1953.

95 horses running to 100 mph

The first TR2 models were produced in 1953, and continual development — including changes and improvements to both body and mechanical specifications — led to the TR3 model for 1956. The TR3 was soon updated with several changes, most notably a full-width radiator grille for improved engine cooling. This car became informally known as the TR3A. Other changes included the addition of exterior door handles, a lockable boot handle, and a full tool kit as standard equipment.

By this stage of development — the car produced 95 horsepower to propel its mere 2,200 pounds — it could exceed 100 mph in standard trim. Despite their humble origins, three specially prepared TR3 models completed the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans race, finishing 9th, 11th and 15th.

However, by this time the quaint, pre-war styling of the TR3 had begun to age. The MGA had replaced the pre-war styling of the T-series cars, the Jaguar XKE replaced the XK series, and the Big Healey’s design was wearing well. So, the TR3, with its dramatic — if dated — styling, was scheduled for replacement by the boxy TR4.

Changed for the better

This very nice TR3A is a great representative of the post-war British sports car invasion — complete with its pre-war influences. Originally from the desert Southwest and benefiting from a recent body-off restoration, the only question it raises for a potential owner is the color combination. White with red interior is an original combination, although the rugged TR3 in white with wide whitewall tires may look a bit like a coal miner in spats and a top hat.

Nonetheless, the modifications made to this car are largely for the better: They improve performance and reliability, and they are mostly easy to reverse if an owner were to have a bout of strict concours indulgence. The body panel fit is excellent and the interior is well done with the factory optional rear seat. The car also includes the highly desirable overdrive.

The engine compartment is tidy, with several concours quibbles (the rocker cover is a non-original, non-period type; two of the cylinder head studs are too long; there are a couple of incorrect hose clamps; the capillary tube for the thermostat is configured and routed incorrectly; the choke linkage is configured wrong; and the prop rod stay should be body color), but all are forgivable and generally not difficult to “correct,” should an owner be so inclined.

As a quintessential post-war British sports car with a fresh restoration, this TR3A promises many pleasurable miles on club events and is qualified for most classic rallies. As a peer in performance and era of the more expensive Austin-Healey, it is also poised to appreciate while being enjoyed.

The buyer paid slightly more than the high end of the SCM Pocket Price Guide, but with affection for British cars of the era steady — and even climbing — and big Healey prices already elevated, this example may still be considered a market-correct buy. A few years from now it may look well bought indeed.

Comments are closed.