Dream garage: Triumph TR3

Door handles. That was one of the notable upgrades when Triumph decided the TR3 deserved some extra appeal. In those less demanding times when canvas roofs were as common as steel and heaters were namby-pamby extras, no one worried much about having to reach inside to open a door. It certainly hadn’t held back the TR2, a cute no-frills sportster for the straitened 1950s using a fairly basic straight four and bits from Triumph’s parts bin. Helped by victory on the 1954 RAC Rally, in ’55 that grew into the TR3 with larger twin carbs extracting an extra few horsepower to hit 95bhp, plus the lavish provision of a radiator grille, previously left off to trim cost, and steel use.   

Within a couple of years a 100bhp engine and front disc brakes arrived too, and the tough little vehicle was a regular on rallies from Morecambe to Monaco.

The car offered at Yorkshire Classic & Sports Cars carries the full-width front grille that betokens what’s generally known as the TR3A, though this was never a factory designation; the grille and door handles merely arrived as a further iteration of a successful sports car, and it became the peak seller of the side-screen range. By 1959 you could specify a 2.2-litre motor as well, and that’s the specification this pearl grey example has been rebuilt to.

“It’s been slightly uprated all round,” says Dan Powell. “As well as the larger engine it has the overdrive option and slightly stiffer suspension because the previous owner planned to use it for rallies. That’s why it has the boot lid-mounted spare wheel, and the hard top has the roof-mounted spot lamp, just like the works rally cars.”

Despite having only canvas and celluloid between your shoulder and winter weather, TRs tackled Tulips, Alpines and Monte Carlo rallies, battling snowy passes and icy mountain roads to garner class and team victories thanks to their toughness, and the thorough preparation of the works team. 

“They are very reliable,” agrees Dan “We’ve handled many, including some original press cars, and people find them extremely usable. There’s a reasonable boot, though many people fit a rack, and they are fabulous cars to drive – like little karts. They corner really flat.”

With historic rallies becoming more popular by the year, this might be the ideal way in – it’s already on snow tyres. And you get the door handles thrown in.