SINCE they were first introduced in 1952, Triumph TR models have steadily consolidated their reputation as inexpensive sports cars notable for rugged reliability and modest petrol thirst, and over 80,000 have been sold, of which nearly 55,000 have gone to America.
The TR3 is now superseded by the new TR4, which has the 2,138 c.c., 86/92 mm. engine developed originally for the Alpine Rally. This rugged power unit retains wet liners and 3-bearing crankshaft and develops 100 b.h.p. at 4,600 r.p.m. on a 9-to-1 compression-ratio. The chassis of the TR4 is slightly larger than that of the TR3 but is of the same general design, retaining Girling disc front brakes, but having rack-and-pinion steering, geared 2.5 turns lock-to-lock. The wheelbase is 7 ft. 4 in., front track 4 ft. 1 in. and rear track 3 ft. 9 in., wire wheels, if specified, adding an inch to the track. The body has been restyled and now measures 13 ft. in length, a proper boot, of 5.5 Cu. ft. capacity, being retained. The TR’s well-known fuel range is ensured by a 11 3/4-gallon tank, and the new car takes a lead from the Triumph Herald 1200 in having a safety collapsible steering column.
The TR4 has glass side windows in both open and hard-top form and an ingenious feature of the latter is that the roof panel is detachable, a Vynide “Surrey” being supplied to close the gap in the event of rain. The interior has also been restyled and there are air-vents, adjustable by vertical knurled knobs, at each side of the facia. The 5-in. 120-m.p.h. speedometer and matching rev.-counter, made by Smiths but labelled Jaeger, are before the driver, with the petrol gauge, ammeter, water-temperature gauge and oil gauge on a central panel. There is a cubby-hole with lockable lid for the passenger but I was sorry to see it retains that lethal protruding piece of metal which is presumably intended as a handle. A grab-handle for the passenger is moulded into the crash padding, the short rigid central gear-lever and fly-off handbrake are retained, there are pockets in the doors, and a foot-rest beside the clutch pedal. Seat-belt brackets are standardised and overdrive and flashers are controlled by stalks respectively left and right of the steering column.
Before the release date I was able to gain brief experience of this smart new TR4. From a comfortable bucket seat the driver looks out over a “power bulge” which covers the semi-downdraught S.U. carburetters on the off side of the lengthened bonnet. There is synchromesh on all four gears and the engine runs readily to beyond 4.500 r.p.m., giving indicated maxima of 50 m.p.h. and 80 m.p.h., respectively, in the 7.44-to-1 2nd and 4.9-to-1 3rd gear. From Coventry the obvious place to try a sports car is M 1 and I headed for the Motorway. Very soon the Triumph was up beyond 90 m.p.h., a speed it would hold indefinitely. Two things now became apparent. The first was that, try as I did, no fresh air would issue from the air vents, so that with the windows up in deference to the fabric top, I was soon as hot as any bathing beauty on the Lido. The other point was the low water temperature, which remained below 70 C. and at lower speeds dropped to 60 C. The test car did not have overdrive, in which, apparently, the “ton” is obtainable at 4,800 r.p.m. I had to go to 5,200 r.p.m. in the 3.7-to-1 top gear to see an indicated 100 m.p.h. The makers claim 110 m.p.h. but I believe the new Triumph has done 116 m.p.h. The track, which is wider by an average of 4.5 in. over the TR3, makes for greater stability, and softer damping settings are used for the TR4. You cannot take standing-start acceleration figures on M 1 but the makers claim o to 60 m.p.h. in 11 sec, and a s.s. 1/4-mile in 17.5 sec. The test car was on Dunlop RS5 tyres, these being one of the many available extras.
The lines of the TR4 can be seen in the picture and it should be noted that the bonnet is now forward hinging and the hood redesigned. This new TR has all the life and toughness expected of a sports Triumph and if anyone tells you that sports cars are dangerous you should let them drive this accelerative, controllable, disc-braked TR4 immediately before they try some fancy stuff in the average saloon…
Once the TR4 gets into production it will replace the TR3 but the entire initial production is reserved for the N. American market. The price will be announced at the London Show. W. B.