View Full Version : TR2/3/3A TR3 Identification

10-13-2004, 08:32 PM
To a knowledgable GT6 owner who's thinking of branching out, what are the outer differences between a TR3, TR3A, and TR3B?


Mickey Richaud
10-13-2004, 09:44 PM
Hey, Saff -

The 3A and 3B are virtually identical. 3B's have the fully synchro transmission and the larger displacement (same block, though) engine than the 3A. The TR3's have no door or boot lid handles, and a different apron and grille (smaller opening). Also, the 3's had their disk wheels painted the same color as the body, where the 3A's and B's disks were silver.

The interiors are different as well. The dash on the 3 is covered completely with the same color vinyl as the seats, and the center portion of the 3A's and B's is painted black, with the rest of the dash covered in the vinyl. Side curtain mounting is different on the 3's, as is the way they are held down (visible snaps on the 3's, and not so on all the 3A's and B's.

The valve cover on the 3B is reversed, with the filler cap at the rear, the same way the TR4 came out.

The badging is also different, with the TR3 having less identification on it - nothing on the back, and only the badge (red & black - the 3A's had red & black, but there was a change at some point to blue & white) on the front apron. 3A's and B's had "TRIUMPH" on the front and rear.

May be some other minor differences, but those are the easily spotted ones.


Geo Hahn
10-13-2004, 10:47 PM
One other BIG difference introduced with the 3A is front disc brakes. Virtually unknown in this price bracket at the time, the TR3A's disc brakes make a world of difference compared to most other cars of the 50s.

Many smaller differences were also introduced along the way, most not aligned with changes in model designations. One of the Piggot books on Original TRs give good detail of the production points where these changes occured.

Mickey Richaud
10-13-2004, 11:46 PM
Actually, they were introduced in the TR3's in late '56, I believe. Mine's a '57, and it has them.


10-14-2004, 12:42 AM
Hey, Saff -

3B's have the fully synchro transmission and the larger displacement (same block, though) engine than the 3A.


[/ QUOTE ]

Actually, the 2.2l engine came out mid-year in 1959 as an option. One could still order a 2.0L engine throughout the rest of the 3A production, as to enable racers to continue to compete in the SCCA's under 2.0l class.

In actuality, the 2.0 and 2.2 offered almost identical performance. The 2.2 was a little torquier. It is pretty much impossible to tell a 2.0 car from a 2.2 car without pulling the head and looking at the liners (or testing Bonneville Salt Flat style with putting in fluid through the spark plug hole and measuring it!) So many engines which were originally 2.0L have been relined with 2.2 liners (because that's the only difference, the size of the liner that drops into the cylinder--and the piston/ring.)
Interior colors on the 3Bs were limited, and there's a long-running debate on which colors were available. Some have said "only gray," while others claim "just gray and black."

The largest difference between a 3A and a 3B is the all-synchro gearbox, although there's nothing preventing an all-synchro box from being put into a 3A (and many have done this.)

The big issue to consider in a 2 or 3: Early parts are often not reproduced, and things as simple as a thermostat for an early TR2 (bellows type) can run big $$$ (I think the Roadster Factory just found a bunch and are selling for something like $80 each!)

Also, the TR2 and TR3 (small mouth) tended to overheat, which is why they went to the larger opening in the TR3A (which is still called a TR3 by the factory, by the way.) If you're in colder weather, it's not an issue. In warmer weather, it should be a consideration.

Another consideration: In late 1959, the tooling was changed, as were the bodies. A real package shelf replaced the cutouts behind the seats. It took out about 4 inches of potential legroom, but made it easier to carry items on a flat surface. Since you have a GT6, I'm guessing leg and headroom aren't a big issue. For me, however, I went from an early '59 TR3A to a late '60, and the change was definitely noticeable to my long legs.

Other minor things: The later 3As and 3Bs have a rheostat for dimming the gauge lights, and more importantly, they have smaller rear brake drums, which might seem to be a bad thing, but in actuality, it solved an issue with the rear brakes locking under hard stops.

I'm sure there are other things, but I'm going off memory here!

10-14-2004, 09:55 AM
Saff, you're not parting with that gorgeous GT6, are you? Please say it ain't so!

But, if you do, a TR2/3 would be a great way to go!

If you are selling, can I have first bid?

10-14-2004, 10:31 PM
You have to keep the GT6 and also get a TR3...two totally different driving experiences...plus that GT6 is so beautiful!

10-15-2004, 01:47 AM
Hi, Mark -

No, I'm definitely not selling the GT6. But I am seriously considering selling my Harley ('99 Dyna Wide Glide) to pay for a TR3. That probably won't get too much sympathy on this board but it's a pretty radical concept for me.

The real issue is going to be convincing my wife that his and hers TR's are a good thing. I'll have to ply her with /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thirsty.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thirsty.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/thirsty.gif


10-15-2004, 01:50 AM
Thanks, Sammy!! The little picture doesn't really work for me. Try https://www.vsswireless.net/saffian/GT6.htm