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Published: 16th Jan 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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Triumph’s TR2, TR3 and TR4 ranges offer ’50’s character and style without any of the fuel injection worries of its bigger brothers


Hastily developed to counter the XK120 and MGs, the TR2 was a real ‘bitsa’ comprising parts from pre-war Standards and Triumphs and… Ferguson tractors! It evolved into the TR4A which remained in production right up to the late 60s and common to all is a delightful blend of style, an earthy Healey-like character yet with an ease of running due to their simple makeup. Today, these early TRs make good, rustic and robust classics that typify the 1950’s sports car scene without the pain.


1953 20TS or TR1 was shown at the 1952 Earls Court show with the resultant TR2 launched a year later with a redesigned chassis 1991cc for 90bhp driving through a four-speed gearbox. Options included overdrive (on top gear), wires and later a hardtop. The earliest cars had full-length doors but these caught and fouled high kerbs and were therefore shortened and are known as appropriately enough the ‘short door’ cars.

1955 The TR3 is introduced although little different to the original apart from the ‘egg-crate’ grille and an engine uprated to 95bhp (later to 100bhp) with the optional, desirable overdrive now working on all but first gear.

1956 TR became the first sports car in its class to feature standard front disc brakes. Most obvious change to give a more modern appearance but external door and boot handles were fitted for the first time. A 2.2-litre engine was offered but surprisingly few were fitted during its production run.

1961 New look TR4 introduced for ‘62 with same structure but larger and with a far more modern bodyshell boasting wind up windows and fascia vents. Mechanically, there’s a 2138cc engine and better steering and suspension.

1962 TR3B: the odd B moniker is a later addition and this version was only built for export; essentially a TR3 with the 2138cc engine, and 2800 cars were built in tandem with the shapely TR4, for traditionalists who disliked the new swinging 60’s look!

1964 TR4 gains independent rear suspension along the lines of Triumph 2000 saloon plus a novel Surrey targa top option; car displaced by TR5PI although remained in production until 1968.


These old TRs – including the TR4A – feel rather like a Morgan; antiquated but always enormous fun. For their age, overall performance is impressive, especially their lusty pull. The overdrive facility makes so much difference in terms of relaxed cruising at surprisingly high speeds making a TR well suited to today’s roads.

The old-style handling is geared to understeer but correct tyres and pressures make a big difference. The all-drum brakes are adequate for moderate driving but the later disc set up is understandably worth retro fitting. In terms of civility, this car is naturally 1950’s rudimentary but for classic die-hards that’s fine for two plus luggage. The A is softer riding; purists prefer the more precise handling of the earlier, simpler TR4.


It’s a matter of taste as they are all very similar to drive although the TR4 is markedly more refined, especially TR4A with its softer, less sporty ride.


Good cars are not easy to find so you need to search hard. Prices generally start from £6000 for a running restoration project to £11,500 for a nicely restored car and perhaps around £20,000-£30,000+ for a specimen or one with motorsport history. Any good, usable car needing no immediate work will be priced around the £10,000- £15,000 mark – the same money you’d gladly pay for a TR6. TR4s are valued slightly less as are left hand drive models although sometimes, thanks to an eager overseas market they can sell at a premium.

We Reckon...

These four-pot TRs are true British sports cars and thanks to their lighter engine upfront, can beat a TR5 or TR6 when hotted up and feel the more thoroughbred – rather like a Healey 100/4. Overall, TRs are very sensible classics to own that are full of character yet can be successfully modernised without spoiling their feel.

Classic Motoring

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