Triumph commenced production of the TR3 on 11th October 1955 and the price was £950. The model refined Triumph’s basic TR2 formula – a robust and attractive rear-wheel-drive 2-litre open two-seater sports car. The ladder type chassis, worm-and-peg steering, front coil springs and live rear axle with leaf springs remained the same, but there was now a proper radiator grille and slightly more power. The TR2’s 1 1/2-inch SU carburettors were replaced with 1 3/4-inch versions, resulting in a power increase from 90bhp to 95bhp. Top speed was 102mph.
In September 1957 the TR3 was replaced by the TR3A (although it was never badged as such). There was now a full-width radiator grille, external door locks and handles as standard, amber rear indicators and Plexiglass side screens.
The TR3 and TR3A’s engine was a 1.991 cc 4 cylinder OHV unit while the laterTR3B had a 2,138cc power plant shared with the TR4/4A. The first two had synchromesh on the top three gears while the 3B had an all-synchro box. As with the TR2, the Laycock de Normanville overdrive was an optional extra which raised the TR3’s top speed to over 105mph and there was an extensive list of accessories for both competition and road use – and an ‘occasional rear seat’ which theoretically gave the Triumph accommodation for a trio of very close friends. The folding hood could be augmented by a bolt-on steel hard top. The TR3 could also be equipped with a ‘Grand Touring’ conversion kit; sliding side screens and exterior door handles and locks. Girling front disc brakes were standardised from late 1956 onwards – a first for a British production car.
The TR4 succeeded the TR3A in October 1961, but Triumph’s US dealers were concerned that the new model would not appeal to their customers and as 90% of TRs were sold in the USA it was decided to fit a small number of surplus TR3A bodyshells with the TR4’s larger engine and all-synchromesh gearbox. Triumph began to make the ‘export-only’ TR3B in March 1962, some six months after TR3A production had formally ceased. The last TR3Bs were built in October of that year.
Our own TR3A started life on 15th February 1960 and was exported to the USA in the following weeks. At the time it was Left hand Drive and finished in Sebring White with red leather upholstery, black trim and whitewall tyres. Nothing is then known about the car until it was re-imported to the UK in 1990 to be rebuilt.
The rebuild, which was carried out to a very high standard, took ten years! Along the way the 2138cc engine was donated by a 1962 TR4 and an overdrive gearbox came from a TR4A. All of the mechanicals and bodywork were rebuilt with many new parts fitted, and the body was finished in Signal Red.
Since the rebuild the car has been fully maintained with new and replacement parts fitted as required. The car benefits from a roll cage, Minilite wheels, stainless steel bumpers and an electric fan and electronic ignition have also been fitted.