Other than the 1800/2000 roadsters, the TR2 was the first, true postwar Triumph sports car. It was superceded in 1955 by the TR3, which was simply an evolution of the TR2, with the most important additions being a horsepower increase to 90 bhp, a new grille, and front disc brakes-a first for an affordable sports car.
The arrival of the TR4 signaled the end of one era and the beginning of another. A completely new body featured wind-up windows, and while the purists howled, everyone else rejoiced. Another modern convenience was, for the first time, a proper trunk. Chassis and drivetrain were little changed, with the most important updates being a synchromesh first gear, and rack-and-pinion steering.
The cumulative effect of the changes was quite dramatic. Where the earlier cars had been drafty, wet and inconvenient, the TR4 was a car that could be used every day, and it seemed much more modern.
The example offered here is believed to have been the New York show car. More importantly, this time-capsule car has completed only 9,834 miles from new, with the original red paint and matching leather remaining in excellent condition. The original Michelin X radials are still mounted to their wire wheels, and show almost no wear. The car is well equipped, with optional overdrive and a wooden dash.
Certainly the most unique feature of this car is the Michelotti-designed surrey top. An optional feature, it consists of a rear-roof section incorporating the rear window that, while removable, is intended to remain in place. A removable targa panel-available in both soft and hard versions-installs between the rear section and the windshield. This remarkable surrey-top TR4 is equipped with both panels.

SCM Analysis


This car was sold by RM in Monterey on August 16, 2002, for $26,400, including buyer’s premium.
When appraising a collector car, a typical approach is to take as the benchmark the value of a good restored example, then add value for an above-average restoration, unusual features and low mileage, and subtract value for non-original components and condition below the level of “good restored.” If we were appraising this car, we’d start with a value of about $11,000, which is consistent across several price guides in addition to that of Sports Car Market. The surrey top (to call it a targa top is apocryphal, as Triumph introduced this type of top five years before Porsche) adds value, since it was relatively rare and sets the car apart from other TR4s one would see at a Triumphest or Vintage Triumph Register meet. Even adding a few thousand dollars for the feature (an option available on TR4s, 250s, and 6s) still puts us under $15,000.
What really sets this car apart is its originality. Only a very few “time capsule” cars like this have turned up that, for one reason or another, were put into proper storage very early in their lifetime and left there without being tampered with until emerging into the present day in nearly new condition.
Of course, if the car is going to be driven more than a few miles from its home base, those museum piece Michelin tires will need to be replaced immediately. Radial tires deteriorate as rapidly when not used as when used, and these are old enough to be unsafe at any speed. It’s likely that most of the rubber seals will require replacement as well before the car can be driven any distance with confidence.
Nevertheless, with this car, the new owner is buying some things that are very hard to come by in the mainstream classic-car hobby. This owner will have the experience of driving a car in good condition that hasn’t been repaired or restored, so there won’t be any booby-traps left by DPOs (the online list sobriquet for “dumb previous owner”). This car is about as close as one can get to the condition it might have been in when it first left the showroom-the goal of most hobby car restorers.
Second, the proud new owner will gain the attention that an unusual unrestored original car, especially one with the rare surrey top, will attract at any Triumph club meet. Third, he is gaining some bragging rights that this car was originally the display car at a major auto show. For a dyed-in-the-wool Triumph enthusiast, those benefits can easily double the value of a car of this price range. In any case, the new owner is still out less then $30,000 for a noteworthy Triumph that will deliver all the performance of an average anonymous Healey of the same price.-Gary Anderson

Comments are closed.