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Lot 040: Triumph TR3 Lightweight Special

Classic Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (27 November 2013)

Long famed for their rugged reliability and idiosyncratic good looks, the 'sidescreen' TRs have attracted a fanatical following over the years.  Powered by a virtually indestructible 1,991cc 4-cylinder, wet-liner OHV pushrod engine, the gutsy TR2 was capable of a genuine 100mph. Not only that, in its 1954 road test, 'The Motorcar' praised Britain's lowest-priced ton-up car for returning 'astonishing fuel economy' of 34.5mpg over 1,904 miles. The TR2 was replaced by the TR3 in 1955, now with 100bhp on tap (5bhp up on the TR2) and front disc brakes. Great fun to drive, its tough boxed-section chassis featured independent coil and wishbone front suspension, a leaf sprung 'live' rear axle and disc / drum brakes. Capable of sprinting to 60mph in just 10.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 109mph, it was finally replaced by the more Italianate TR4 in 1961. However the ruggedness of the TR3 meant that it had a significant weight penalty over its main rivals  the Morgan Plus Four, Porsche 356, MGA and MGB all being lighter machines. Combined with its narrow width, high centre of gravity and skinny tyres, this could make it a tricky machine to control in high speed cornering  which is where our car comes in. First registered in Warwickshire in April 1956, this TR3 was previously owned by an ex-Lotus engineer in the late 1970s. Acutely aware of the unnecessary weight of the car compared to one of his own company's products, he stripped away the original steel bodywork and replaced it with a custom-made body fabricated entirely from lightweight fibreglass (even the floor pans and seat frames are fibreglass). Other modifications include a wide track 3B back axle from a TR4, rack-and-pinion steering, servo brakes, wider 7.5-inch J wire wheels, magneto ignition and a Kenlowe fan. The current owner acquired the car in 2009 and states that it drives superbly with notably strong performance. The engine was reputedly fully rebuilt, balanced and polished in the 1980s and has covered only a low mileage since. Although there are no bills to support this, the vendor has previously inspected some of the engine internals and reports that all looked as you would expect following such a rebuild. Recently recommissioned after a period in storage, the car has just completed a couple of hundred miles to free everything up and is said to be running beautifully. It comes with a rare factory hardtop in steel plus the original windscreen and surround. There is also a green log book from 1965 when the car was in the Southampton / Isle of Wight area (which confirms that the car still retains its original chassis and engine) plus a modern V5C. While the car could be returned to standard if desired with the acquisition of the appropriate body panels, we much prefer it in its current state and it would no doubt make a great historic race car. It is only reluctantly being sold due to an impending house move and subsequent loss of storage.

Lot Details
Auction Classic Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Herefordshire
TypeCar
Lot Number040
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£11400
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1956
Condition rating2
Registration numberUAC 704
Mileage-
Chassis numberTS10833
Engine numberTS11193
Engine capacity (cc)1990
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors