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Triumph TR2/3

Published: 24th Mar 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Triumph TR2/3

Model In Depth...

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Frank Osbourne shows you how to get the best from an early TR

The Triumph TR range has its roots in Morgan. Standard Triumph director Sir John Black made a failed bid for the Malvern-based sports car company, and spurred on by MG’s American success decided a Triumph two-seater would be a wise move. The result, via some development mules, was the TR2. A simple ladder chassis clad in svelte curves, few could have guessed that under that bonnet lurked an engine shared with the dumpy Standard Vanguard and a derivative of the agricultural Ferguson tractor! With some 80,000 TR2s, TR3s and TR3As produced, the formula clearly worked – and a legend was born just over 60 years ago.


The rugged, simplistic nature of the early TRs was carried right through to the TR6 and despite their advancing ages and lack of finesse all still make highly capable and competitive road and track classics. We’re concentrating on the pre-TR4 strain this month.

Before you start

We recommend you buy a solid example of most classics for performance mods, and the Triumph TR2/3/3A/3B are no exception. But there are some unusual facts to consider with these early TRs. They employed a unique water drainage system from the bonnet area, lest people with a preference for aero screens might not be keen on wet laps. Water was drawn in channels backwards between the bonnet and wings, and drained through two drainage channels in the scuttle. These block, and water can be diverted into the base of the front wings. Not only should this area be checked thoroughly for repairs, but check any prospective purchase for clean drain tubes! Check the chassis too – as a sports car it will have seen some enthusiastic driving in the past, and many owners will have run out of talent and repaired their cars. If this has been done, it needs to be done properly.

Hotting up

For starters a session on a rolling road, paying attention to the carbs’ condition and suitable jetting and best ignition setting is the sensible way to go before adding sports air filters and a better exhaust. The obvious starting point is a TR4 spec engine, but any engine will be fine if it’s fitted with a high port head if for no other reason that performance didn’t increase that much over the years. TR4 engines are interchangeable and 150cc larger, with more options in terms of upgrades. Moss, for example, offers a range of aftermarket camshafts for the TR4 spec engine from Road to Race. Prices vary between £180 and £220. TRGB offers an 89mm piston and liner kit which takes you out to 2.3-litres for £456. Gas-fl owing is essential and converting the head to run on unleaded would be a clever move too. It might only be worth 2-3bhp on a standard engine, but you’ll reap the rewards later. Don’t be tempted to raise the compression ratio whilst you’re messing with the internals – much over 11:1 will put the engine under considerable stress for scant extra gain, so it’s not worth risking. And whilst the engine’s apart buy TRGB’s improved rear oil seal kit for £60.

Biggest new bang for your buck? Head to Moss and pick up one of its supercharger kits. Space considerations mean that you’ll need to convert to an alternator – but the supercharger kit includes a new SU HD8, water pump, serpentine belt pulleys, and alternator conversion kit. Price to you? £3481.86… but to be fair it is a bolt on conversion that’s totally reversible should you want to, and adds about 40 per cent more power on top of whatever you have. If you have the money, we recommend it. TRGB don’t advise an aluminium radiator despite there being types on the market. For £246 it will re-core your old radiator with a high spec core, which will be more than adequate. On the subject of cooling, a Kenlowe fan as an auxiliary measure might be wise. “Don’t bin the viscous,” adds Gary of TRGB – “If the electric fan cuts out you’ll be left high and dry!”.

The 1.75in SUs are ample for a major power hike, so don’t go overboard and fi t bigger carbs if tuning is only mild. However, an extractor manifold with a single-silencer exhaust will eke a few more horses from your TR, and it’ll sound the part as well. What you can raid from the parts bin is a TR4A flywheel – the best of the bunch but even then it can be lightened further. Gary at TRGB advises at least ten pounds can be shaved off – or go “as far as your machine shop dare!”. An alternator conversion and a Hi-Torq starter will take care of the electrical system; barring these there’s little more you can do.

With an engine spec like this you’re looking at a reliable 120bhp at the wheels, plus 160lbft of torque. Add the blower and you could be talking well over 160bhp. In a car so light, these modest figures are enough to raise an eyebrow, especially given the fl at torque curve from 1500rpm upwards. As a racing engine, you’re looking at a lot of work if you want over 160bhp because, at this level, the standard unit is not up to the job, so needs a steel crank, rods etc. Performance engines start from £3500-£5000.



  • Session on rolling road
  • Sports air fi lters and exhaust
  • Uprated rad
  • Gas-flowed cylinder head
  • TR4 engine


  • upercharger
  • Uprated bottom end
  • Ready built, fast road race engine/
  • Twin Weber conversion

Handling The Power...

TR2s and early TR3s have drums all round and for mild uprating are okay so long as decent linings are used. If you intend to replace with discs from a later TR bear in mind that TR4 disc brakes are larger than later 5/6 set-ups… Neil Revington (01823 698437/ sells chassis strengthening kits. Intended for use with its rear anti roll bar kit but perfectly usable without, they require welding and cost from £54. If you want to lower your TR then the Revington Race sump (£325) might be wise too. It barely protrudes below the chassis legs, meaning less risk of damage – but if you want to keep the original ride height it’s not essential. Revington TR adds that considerable improvements can be made by changing to polyurethane bushes, too. It sells various upgrades, with a full suspension rebuild (including new poly bushes, springs, dampers and anti-roll bar etc.) costing around £1700. In contrast, a TR6-type antiroll bar is a good cheap mod. Power steering from 2000/2500 can be adapted, or go for an EZ aftermarket option. We spoke to Gary Bates of TRGB.

“We’d look at lowered and uprated springs with Koni, Spax or Gaz shocks in terms of front suspension – you can convert to TR6 spec but there’s little benefi t. The standard gearbox is fi ne; we wouldn’t fi t a fi ve-speed as it damages the character of the car – a standard box with the overdrive is capable of handling the power. We’d fi t heavy duty rear springs but many fi nd them too fi rm – there’s a conversion kit for shock absorbers but we don’t feel there’s enough difference to justify the extra cost!”. £400 buys a rack and pinion steering kit, which takes about 20 hours to fit – if you want this you need the electric fan mod, as the viscous one gets in the way. Not essential but some might prefer the instant reaction of the rack. TR2s and 3s use the same A-type overdrive as many 1960’s Triumphs. “Deep piston” derivatives of the A-type are most sought-after.

If Gary’s advice isn’t to your liking, a fivespeed conversion can be had from Revington TR (get more info on 01823 698437/www. which uses a modified Toyota Supra ’box costing £4400. Dear and they are scarce now, but it’s a straight bolt on. Ford Type Nine based conversions start from £3300. A good mod for overdrives is Revington’s Logic Overdrive Device (costing £84), which replaces the existing on/off switch and automatically disengages the overdrive when you shift-up a gear.

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