Triumph TR3

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Triumph TR3
Triumph TR3x.jpg
1955–1957 Triumph TR3
Manufacturer Standard Motor Company
Production 1955–1962
Assembly Coventry, England
Melbourne, Australia [1]
Liege, Belgium [2]
Mechelen, Belgium [2]
South Africa [2]
Body and chassis
Class Sports car
Layout FR layout
Engine 1991 cc straight-4
2138 cc straight-4
Transmission 4-speed overdrive manual[3]
Wheelbase 88 in (2,235 mm)[4]
Length 151 in (3,835 mm)[4]
Width 56 in (1,422 mm)[4]
Height 50 in (1,270 mm)[5]
Curb weight 955 kg (2,105 lb)[6]
Predecessor Triumph TR2
Successor Triumph TR4

The Triumph TR3 is a sports car produced between 1955 and 1962 by Standard-Triumph in England. The facelifted variant, popularly but unofficially known as the TR3A, entered production in 1957 and the final version, unofficially the TR3B, was produced in 1962.


Triumph TR3 (1955–57)

Although the car was usually supplied as an open two-seater, an occasional rear seat and bolt-on steel hard top were available as extras.

The car was powered by a 1991 cc straight-4 OHV engine initially producing 95 bhp (71 kW; 96 PS), an increase of 5 hp over the TR2 thanks to the larger SU-H6 carburettors fitted. This was later increased to 100 bhp at 5000 rpm[5] by the addition of a "high port" cylinder head and enlarged manifold. The four-speed manual gearbox could be supplemented by an overdrive unit on the top three ratios, electrically operated and controlled by a switch on the dashboard. In 1956 the front brakes were changed from drums to discs, the TR3 thus becoming the first British series production car to be so fitted.[7]

The suspension was by double A-arms, manganese bronze trunnion, coil springs and tube shocks at the front, optional anti-roll bar, and with worm and peg steering. Unlike MGs of the same period, the steering mechanism and linkage had considerable play and friction, which increased with wear.

The rear was conventional leaf springs, with solid axle and lever arm dampers, except that the (box) frame rails were slung under the axle. The wheels were 15-inches in diameter and 4.5 inches wide (increased from 4 inches after the first few TR2s), with 48-spoke wire wheels optional. Wire wheels were usually painted, either body colour or Argent (silver), but matt chrome and bright chrome were also available. The front disc or drum brakes and rear drums had no servo assistance.

The TR3's weight was significantly more than the Morgan +4 and the Porsche 356, but not much more than the MG-A and MG-B. All except the Morgan, which shared the same engine, were substantially less powerful as was the Sunbeam Alpine.

Under most conditions the car was very responsive and forgiving, but it had some handling vices. The chassis, which was shared by the TR2, TR3, TR3A and TR4 had limited wheel travel. As a result, on very hard cornering, the inside rear wheel would lift, causing sudden over-steer due to the increased load on the outside rear tyre. This was particularly true with increasingly common radial tyres; the original TR2/3/3A suspension was built with older, crossply tyre designs in mind. The wheel lifting was more sudden than that of other cars, because it was caused by coming to the end of the suspension travel while there was still load on the tyre, so the load on the other (outside) rear wheel was a discontinuous function of cornering load, rather than just changing slope.

The TR3 is a true roadster, designed for sunny weather but with removable rain protection. It has a convertible hood (US top) that snaps on and off and removable side curtains, allowing very low doors with padding for the driver's arm to rest on. There are holes in the floor, with rubber plugs, so that the originally supplied jack might be used from inside the car, as did the Jaguar XK120. The optional heater was poor and the shut-off valve was under the bonnet (US hood). A third person could be carried behind the seats, if absolutely necessary.

13,377[8] examples of the original "pre-facelift" TR3 were produced, of which 1286 were sold within the UK; the rest were exported mainly to the USA. As of Q1 2011 there were approximately 826 licensed and 115 SORN TR3/3a's registered with the DVLA.[9]

TR3 specifics[edit]

  • Production Period – October 1955 to Summer 1957
  • Original price (basic model) – £950
  • Suspension – Front: Independent by unequal-length double wishbones, coil springs and telescopic dampers, Rear: Live axle, half-elliptic springs, lever arm dampers
  • Brakes – First 4408 models (1955–56): 10 in (254 mm) Drums all around. Remaining 9000 (1956–57): Front Discs; Rear Drums [10]
  • Original Optional extras – Seatbelts, overdrive, wire wheels, steel hardtop, occasional rear seat, radio, heater, leather upholstery.


A hardtop car with overdrive tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1956 had a top speed of 105.3 mph (169.5 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 10.8 seconds. A fuel consumption of 27.1 miles per imperial gallon (10.4 L/100 km; 22.6 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1103 including taxes.[5]

Other figures recorded included:

Speed Time
0–30 mph (48 km/h) 3.6 s
0–50 mph (80 km/h) 7.5 s
0–60 mph (97 km/h) 10.8 s
0–90 mph (140 km/h) 28.8 s

From standing to 14 mile 18.1 secs


Triumph "TR3A"

In 1957 the TR3 was updated with various changes including a full width radiator grille and this facelifted model was commonly referred to as the Triumph "TR3A". However the cars were not badged as such and the "TR3A" name was not used officially,[11][12] as is evident from contemporary sales brochures.[13] The "TR3A" was built between 1957 and 1962.[14]

Although the facelifted TR3 is often referred to as the TR3A, it is badged as "Triumph TR3"

The "TR3A" was a minor update from the TR3. The updates included the new wide front grill, exterior door handles, lockable boot handle and came with a full tool kit as standard (this was an option on the TR3). The total production run of the "TR3A" was 58,236. This makes it the third best-selling TR after the TR6 and TR7. The TR3A was so successful that the original panel molds eventually wore out and had to be replaced. In 1959 a slightly modified version came out that had raised stampings under the bonnet and boot hinges and under the door handles, as well as a redesigned rear floor section. In addition, the windscreen was attached with bolts rather than the Dzus connectors used on the early "A" models. It is estimated that only 9,500 of the original 58,000 built survive in the world today.[citation needed]

The Triumph TR3 was the first production car to include standard disc brakes, which were continued on the "TR3A" facelift. The car was known for its superior braking ability, making it an autocross favourite.

The "TR3A" is often seen in Vintage and Production racing today. The "TR3A", despite being almost 50 years old, is still competitive in the E-Production class of SCCA (Sports Car Club of America).

In June 1977, the American Road & Track magazine published an article titled "Driving Impressions: TR3A & TR250" in its 30th anniversary issue. It published a 0–60 mph time of 12.0 seconds, power output of 100 bhp (75 kW) at 4800 rpm, observed curb weight of 2,090 lb (950 kg) and fuel consumption of 28 miles per imperial gallon (10 L/100 km; 23 mpg-US).[15]


Triumph "TR3B"

The "Triumph TR3B" is an unofficial name given to the final version of the TR3, which was produced in 1962. It was offered concurrent with the TR4, which started production in 1961. The "TR3B" was a special short-production run in response to dealer concerns that the buying public might not welcome the TR4.

It had the body of the later "TR3A". Two series were produced: one with a commission number preceded by TSF of which 530 were produced; one with commission numbers preceded by TCF of which 2804 were produced. Both series were partly produced in parallel. The TSF series were identical to the last run of TR3As, so with 2 litre engine but already with the TR4 all-synchromesh gear box. The TCF series had the 2.138 (2.2) litre TR4 engine. The engine is a straight-4, push rod, 3-bearing, with wet liners. It had 9:1 compression and was very rigid. It was fitted with two H6 SU carburettors. It had 105 hp (78 kW) at 4,650 rpm and 172 N·m (127 lbf·ft) of torque at 3,350 rpm. It got around 20 miles per US gallon (12 L/100 km; 24 mpg-imp) to 30 miles per US gallon (7.8 L/100 km; 36 mpg-imp). The top speed was limited to about 110 mph (177 km/h) by the gear ratio, unless it had overdrive. Electrically triggered overdrive (Laycock-de-Normanville Type A) was available as an option and operated on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears. Appearance was identical to the late US-version of "TR3A", so with different head light rims, for the rest very similar to the TR3, except for a wider grille and door handles. It weighed 2,137 lb (969 kg).


  1. ^ Ireland Standard Triumph Eire Ltd. Dublin Ireland.TR2%263_History.html Triumph TR3 rolls out of Australian Assembly Plant Retrieved on 19 May 2011
  2. ^ a b c Bill Piggott, Collector's Originality Guide Triumph TR2 TR3 TR4 TR5 TR6 TR7 TR8, 2009, page 138
  3. ^ "1955 Triumph TR3". Retrieved 1 January 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c Manwaring, L. A. (1960). Observer Book of Automobiles. London: Frederick Warne. 
  5. ^ a b c "The Triumph TR3 Hard-top Coupé". The Motor. 4 April 1956. 
  6. ^ Triumph TR2 service instruction manual
  7. ^ Robson, Graham (2006). A to Z British cars 1945–1980. Devon, UK: Herridge. ISBN 0-9541063-9-3. 
  8. ^ Original Triumph TR, Bill Piggott, ISBN 978-1-870979-24-5
  9. ^ "Vehicle licensing statistics". Department of Transport. Retrieved 17 July 2011. 
  10. ^ Thoroughbred and Classic Cars Magazine, Sept 1980
  11. ^ Bill Piggott, Collector's Originality Guide Triumph TR2 TR3 TR4 TR5 TR6 TR7 TR8, 2009, page 139
  12. ^ "The Triumph Roadster". Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  13. ^ "Triumph Brochures". Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  14. ^ The Standard Motor Company. Lord Tedder Describes Expansion And Development The Times, Monday, Nov 24, 1958; pg. 14; Issue 54316
  15. ^ Bryant, Thomas L. (June 1977). "Driving Impressions: TR3A & TR250". Road & Track 

External links[edit]