Triumph TR3

The Triumph TR3 was a powerful sports car from the Triumph stable which helped the Standard Motor Company to penetrate the US Market …


The TR3 was a natural follow-on to the Triumph TR2 range. Introduced in 1955, it wasn’t hugely different to the TR2. It had a slightly modified styling (notably the grille), stronger axle to cope with disc brakes at the front and a few tweaks to the engine to increase the power output. A couple years after the introduction came the TR3A, otherwise known as the wide mouth. The radiator grille filled the width of the front of the car and the sidelights were mounted on the grille. It also had such advances as a lockable boot, door handles and a full tool kit! To me, this vehicle looks like it was designed by Nick Park as it has a definite ‘Wallace and Gromit’ appearance! The previous grille looked like the car was gritting its teeth with the effort. It was a popular motorsports vehicle and surviving examples can be seen whizzing round the tracks today – well over half a century since they were made.

A couple of years before it was superseded by TR4, Triumph TR3 buyers could order it with a 2.2 litre engine. It had disctinctively low cut doors which made it look rather cool. Optional extras for the Triumph TR3 wereseat belts, an ‘occasional’ rear seat, tonneau and wire wheels.

The Triumph TR3 was sold as an open 2 seater sports car but there were other options available. It had a top speed of just over 100mph, a fuel consumption of around 28 to the gallon and a 0-60 time of 12-13 seconds.

The classic car known as the Triumph TR3B never actually existed with such a label. Dealers were worried that the public wouldn’t like the new TR4 and so it was a version that looked like the TR3 but with certain TR4 aspects such as the 2.2 litre engine and a fully synchromeshed gear box. The TR3 was considerably more powerful than its competitors, other than the Morgan which used the same engine.

Here are some Triumph TR3 items that I found on Amazon …

Common problems with the TR3 are similar to most classic cars. The handling can be ‘interesting’ when cornering at speed as the chassis is fairly flexible. The steering is heavier at low speeds and a lot of play indicates the steering mechanism is badly worn. There is no servo for the brakes so it takes a lot of push to get the TR3 to stop from high speeds.

Rust can be a problem – inner and outer sills need checking, spare wheel well and rear mudguards, floor pans and A-posts. If the doors or other panels don’t seem to fit particularly well, it could be symptomatic of accident damage or replacement of the body shell. Avoid these cars. The engine is fairly robust but if you find an oil leak from the timing cover gasket it will need repairing. Oil pressure should be at 50psi for a healthy engine.

Drive the car slowly in first to check for chipped teeth as there is no synchromesh on first. If the gearbox rumbles, it could be the bearings on the way out or possibly just low oil levels. A giveaway that the bearings are on the way out is to listen to the car whilst idling – there is a clattering sound which disappears when the clutch is depressed if they are. The electrically triggered overdrive often has faults but if you are not driving the car far or fast then it is probably not worth worrying about if such faults show up. Check that the chassis is not rusted or twisted, these are common faults on older or badly restored TR3s.

If the trunnions at the front have not been lubed every 100 miles or so, they may well be worn, so check these carefully. In terms of the electrics, poor earthing or brittle and broken wiring looms ar your biggest enemy.

Triumph TR3 Owners Club

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