Introduced in 1955, the TR3 was one of Triumph’s biggest sellers and a true classic British roadster. It had minimal protection from the elements, a graceful shape, and doors cut so low that you could reach out and touch the ground. While perhaps less visually appealing than its contemporaries like the MGA or the Austin-Healey 100, it was a lively performer with 95 horsepower from its 1,991 cc Ferguson tractor motor, and as the first British production car with front disc brakes, the TR3 was a trendsetter as well. With many thousands sold between 1955 and 1957, it solidified Triumph’s fan base, especially in the all-important American market, and made the company one of the leading names in sports cars. There were Triumphs before it and certainly plenty of memorable ones after it, but the TR3 may very well be the most important one of them all.
The TR3 underwent two significant changes in its production life. The first came in 1957, when it got a wider, shallower grille, larger bumpers and a locking trunk. The second came during the last year of production in 1962, when Triumph was preparing for the release of the TR4 but were unsure what the public reception would be. Just to be safe, they made a run of TR3’s with the hotter engine and gearbox from the TR4. Today, the three phases of the car’s life are divided into TR3, TR3A and TR3B, although the factory didn’t refer to them as such in period.
That brings us to this car, located in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s a late TR3 (pre-TR3A) commonly referred to as a “small mouth” car, which looks a lot more like the earlier TR2 than the TR3A and B. But what it really looks like is, well, just awful. Pink is a color reserved for certain Cadillacs, Barbie’s Corvette, and bubble gum. It’s definitely not something you do to a respectable English roadster, especially if you ever plan on getting rid of it. Whoever had this poor car in the early ’60s clearly never thought of the word “resale” when he painted the body, wheels and even some of the mechanicals pink before giving it to his wife. I hope she liked it.
What this car does have going for it is that it would be a solid project car. With 20,000 original miles, it definitely didn’t have a hard life (other than people probably pointing and laughing at it) and most everything on it is original and pretty well-preserved. TR3’s have seen a slight jump in value over the last couple of years, but they’re still somewhat affordable classics. With so many made and with such a straight example as this, it could be a pretty manageable project. And what would step one be on this restoration? New paint!
Check out the 1957 Triumph TR3 here on eBay, where the reserve is not yet met at $5,100.