View Full Version : TR2/3/3A Educate me about TR3s

04-17-2012, 08:53 PM
I'm a British car nut and shortly I'll be selling my current project to fund my next one. This time around I'll be looking for a TR3. I've never owned a Triumph and while I'm fairly familiar with Spridgets and the like, not very knowledgeable about TR3s.

I have been working on cars for a very long time and have completed a couple frame-off restorations as well. This TR3 should be a candidate for another frame-off. Please keep this in mind - I'm not looking to spend more up front to get a car that I can have driving in a month. No matter what, the car will be torn down to the bare nuts and bolts and redone from the frame up. Chrome will all be replated, most important thing is that it's all present. I plan on months of bodywork, which I will be doing myself. I'd just like to lay that all out there.

Obviously I want as little rust as possible. That goes without saying. I am also realistic in that I know "rust-free" does not exist in this world. I also live in Pennsylvania. So, I need to know where to look for the BAD rust - the kind of rust where if you don't repair it perfectly, your doors will never shut. Think rear spring hanger brackets on a Spridget, that sort of thing. Luckily TR3s aren't unibody - I'll never do that again.

All these cars have their "holy grail" parts - that part that isn't made anymore, was originally made of papier-mache or unicorn horn, and the car won't run without it. For a lot of cars it's a grille, just this week I went to go look at an MG TD that (ironically) had TR3 guages in it - a set of TD gauges would run me $1400. Good-bye. On my Bugeye it was a heater control knob/switch, and maybe a tach gearbox.

Anyone care to introduce a newbie to the wonderful world of TR3s?


0 .Back to top

04-17-2012, 11:54 PM
Hi There Darel,

"Welcome" to the BCF. You already know that this is "THEE" best site anywhere.

I lived in "Effort, PA" (Just down from Pocono Raceway) until I moved down to NW SC (Am I glad I did that).

I`ve had "3" TR3s. Most recently sold my `57 Small Mouth. You`ll probably get a whole bunch of suggestions here so hold on to your hat.

Have you already bought a TR3 or shopping around?

Best Wishes,


04-18-2012, 05:45 AM
Just shopping. I try to learn as much as I can about a project before I commit to buying one. Thanks!

04-18-2012, 09:48 AM

This is a great place to find just about anything you'd ever want to know about TR3s -or triumphs in general. This board has a search feature, so you can pick a subject like "rust" and find what anyone has ever had to say about it here. You may want to narrow it down a little. Perhaps "frame rust" or "floorboards" or "rockers", "fenders" etc. That should cover most of the rust. You can also pick a user name and see anything they had to say about anything.

Parts availability: Most everything is available, but beware, many of the new improved parts are not as good as the originals. It can be difficult to tell some reproductions from the original, but there usually is a big difference once it's pointed out. The only part I had real trouble getting was a small part that goes on early bodys and the windshield slides into it. -And I'll bet if I asked on this board, someone would offer me one at a very reasonable price. Front aprons in good condition can be difficult as well. I spent a year shopping ebay and gathering parts -but I needed almost everything. I have been asked why I started with a car that was going to have everything replaced.

You should be aware of the major changes at TS60000. And the differences between a long door and short, and there are wood top doors, and steel.

I didn't know much about TR3s, until I got one. Now I know a little more about how much I need to know.

Enjoy it for what its worth,

04-18-2012, 10:10 AM

I've come to realize that many of the folks on this board have forgotten more about Triumphs then I'll ever know. They are a great bunch of peeps that just want to keep the hobby going and share their knowledge!

04-18-2012, 10:33 AM
Isn't there a site where you can plug in your commissioning number and it will provide you some information about your car? Thought I stumbled upon that a while back but I can't seem to find it now.

Geo Hahn
04-18-2012, 11:01 AM
Never seen one -- but a Google of a commission number sometimes turns up something.

04-19-2012, 01:05 PM
British Motor Heritage in the UK offers a "birth certificate" if you give them the commission number and some money. It will tell you some of the options your car came with and colors of the body and interior.

04-19-2012, 02:45 PM
I think it's enlightening to go thru the parts catalogs.and repair manuals.

04-19-2012, 03:09 PM
There is some good information to be learned from this book and this author. Gil NoCal

04-19-2012, 04:07 PM
All these cars have their "holy grail" parts - that part that isn't made anymore, was originally made of papier-mache or unicorn horn, and the car won't run without it. For a lot of cars it's a grille, just this week I went to go look at an MG TD that (ironically) had TR3 guages in it - a set of TD gauges would run me $1400. Good-bye. On my Bugeye it was a heater control knob/switch, and maybe a tach gearbox.

In general, parts availability for the TR3 is very good. The biggest problem today IMO is reproduction parts that are not as good (in some not-obvious way) as the original parts. There are some things that are not available new, but in general only the things with no significant demand because there are plenty of serviceable originals around.

Of course it also depends on your goals. If you want a "brand new" TR3, things get more expensive. For example, I would guess that you could put together a full set of working used gauges for somewhere in the neighborhood of $400. But if you want them to look new (and be perfectly correct), then the only real route is to pick up a set of cores and send them off to be rebuilt. Now you're looking at more like $1000.

As noted, there were many changes along the way, all TR3s are not the same (nor do they take the same parts). The changes did not follow anything like model year (even "model year" is a slippery concept with these cars since the dealers tended to claim they were "new" even when they were built a year or more earlier). And sometimes the changes didn't even follow commission number very well. In many cases, the factory appears to have built cars both ways side by side for some time. Some of that, I think, is because cars did not necessarily come off the line in commission number order; but in other cases I think they just used the parts that were available at the moment. Plus of course, in many cases, parts have been changed around over the years. TS13571L came to me with a wide grille and front apron to match, even though it was almost certainly originally made with a narrow grille. Now it has a narrow grille, but a TR6 gearbox and TR4A clutch. So it goes.

Another point, the factory never officially recognized the TR3A with the wide grille; but almost all enthusiasts and suppliers do. The TR3B was recognized by the factory (at least some times) even though it's appearance is identical to the later TR3A. (The primary difference was where they were assembled, although there are also some parts differences.)

eBay's motto is "Caveat Emptor" or "Let the buyer beware". Many sellers put up misleading descriptions, either accidentally or intentionally, in order to get a better price for their parts. For example, I had one of them insist that the disc brake rotors he was selling would fit my TR2, even though TR2s never came with disc brakes. Be careful. If in doubt, ask here.

04-20-2012, 02:21 AM
Darel, when honing in on a TR3 purchase, if you care to post the Commission number, as stamped on a plate on the upper firewall, we'll be able to walk you through the original fitments.

For instance, early small mouth TR3's had all round drum brakes but later 3's introduced front disc brakes and a stronger Girling diff. All wide mouth TR3A's had front discs, but part way through production at TS50000 there were starter motor and gearbox changes. Then at TS60000 the body was re-tooled with many internal changes, although both the early and late 3A's look virtually identical.

Perhaps the biggest rust problem is in the frame. TR3/3A/3B frames are a minimum of 50 years old and were never painted on the inside of the box sections, so they quietly rust from the inside out until the metal becomes paper thin in places. Replacement frames are available - there is a close copy made in the US and a perfect replica in the UK. The inner sills (rockers), which tie the two ends of the body together, also suffer from internal rust - usually presenting as holes along the bottom. These are a big job to replace. As to the outer panels, look for rust in the lower rear of the front fenders where damp silt accumulates; the outer sills (rockers), and behind the small aluminium stone guards ahead of the rear fenders. Floors also rust out. Replacement/repair sections are readily available for rust prone panels.

Mechanicals and suspensions are straightforward and everything is readily available, other than early TR3 wire wheel splines and overdrive parts, which are becoming scarce.

Hope that helps,


04-20-2012, 05:53 AM
Thanks guys!