I have resisted the temptation for two or three months to write to you on the subject of Triumph TRs, expecting enthusiasm for these cars to be sufficiently unimportant to continue to take up space in your columns. However, I now succumb.
None of your correspondents seem to have brought out the true appeal of the TR, and that is, surely, that the car is basically “dangerous”. I use the word in the sense of “exhilarating”, for I suspect that readers of MOTOR SPORT derive more satisfaction from driving their cars than from polishing them; and a car that demands the exercise of some ability in order to drive fast and safely in all conditions is often more satisfactory from the pure driving point of view than the more sure-footed car. My own experience is that the better the car handles, the faster I drive it, so a car that engenders a healthy respect in me because of its inherent instability is more likely to preserve me for relaxed old age than the car I can blithely drive on the limit. The TR seems to me to be a car that engenders some respect, particularly on wet or slippery surfaces, and yet it does have a degree of power.
Its other great quality is its ability to “potter about”. I don’t pretend for a moment that the TR is in the same class as the E-type, but its tractor-based engine gives very relaxed cruising revs (100 m.p.h.,: 4,100 r.p.m. in overdrive). I have, in fact, on two occasions covered 1,000 miles in a TR3A in less than 24 hours (no-one gave me a Dior dress!) and not been unduly tired, though the wind noise got me down and I had to stuff my ears with chewed-up opera tickets (I was driving from Vienna to Stockholm).
I am, obviously, a confirmed TR addict, having been seduced away from MGs (I had an interesting 1934 L-type Salonette and an open VA which was ideal transport in early student days) to a 1955 TR2, which had an embarrassing stripe down the middle and a plaque on the dashboard proclaiming it had taken part in the Trans-America Rally, whatever that was; followed by two 3As and now a well-worn TR4. I cannot answer for the most recent TRs, though I have had a ride in a TR6, but I believe they continue the tradition of fast, straight-line cars, offering relaxed cruising and that inherent TR instability I mentioned, and which I consider half the point of the car. My favourite was is lightened and modified 3A which would reach 100 m.p.h. in 25 seconds and maintain it all day long in Continental driving if I were prepared to stand the wind noise.
I should add that this addiction to TRs has not been without hair raising incidents. The first resulted in me motoring into a quiet Buckinghamshire village on three wheels, whilst the truant, complete with brake drum and part of the hub, careered on ahead only coming to rest when it rolled through the open door of the local tavern. I also suffered two fractured brake pipes, one discovered when I was stationary and the other when I was attempting to stop at a pedestrian crossing. But I am not so much blaming the individual cars for these experiences as, perhaps, commenting on some of the risks to be guarded against when buying hard-used second-hand sports cars.
So although your excellent road-tests of very desirable cars are temptation itself, nevertheless I continue (along with many others apparently) to derive a fair degree of satisfaction from a car I would describe as good all-round transport.
C. G. Masterman.