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TR2/3/3A Commission and Engine Number

frankfast

Jedi Trainee
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I'm about to purchase a TR3 but I noticed that the commission number plate is screwed on instead of riveted and looks new. The car has been restored. Also the engine number precedes the commission number by more than 3,000 units. It is said to having been rebuilt. Am I right in assuming that the commission number may not indicate the correct vintage of the car and that the engine may or may not be original to the car?
 

Mickey Richaud

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Welcome to the forum!

The commission number will tell the year of the car, and the engine number normally will not be the same. Usually, though, the engine number will be larger than the commission number, as engines were supplied to other cars as well as 3's. About the only way to be sure the car comes with the engine it was "born" with is to apply for a British Motor Industry Heritage Trust certificate: https://www.britishmotormuseum.co.uk/archive/heritage-certificates

This will give you date of completion, where it was sent, body and interior color, and what equipment it came with, along with the engine number.

Good luck with the purchase, and be sure to post pictures!

:cheers:
Mickey

PS - If you can, get hold of Bill Piggott's Original Triumph TR book. Pretty much the definitive resource.
 

Geo Hahn

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A lot happens in the life of a car - actually some strange things even happened at the factory.

If an owner replaces a commission plate they really should save the old one. Also, most people would use rivets to attach a replacement. That said, a new plate and screws may not indicate a problem.

There are documented production changes that can offer clues as to whether a particular commission number 'fits' with the appearance of the car. But that is strictly negative proof, i.e. it might rule out a number but is not proof a number is the original.

Engine numbers can vary quite a bit vis a vis the commission number. For example, my TR4 has an engine number that is 6500 less than the commission number but the Heritage Certificate confirms this is correct.
 

TR3driver

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I think you said it just right, frankfast. "May" indicate. Using screws shows a sloppy restoration to me, and in most cases the engine number is slightly higher (a few hundred) than the commission number. But Geo is quite right, there are exceptions, and the only way to be certain is to get a copy of the build record. (BMIHT sells certificates suitable for framing, VTR sells simple copies that are cheaper.)

BTW, welcome to the asylum!
 
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frankfast

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Thanks. I found out that the commission number plate is not the original but will obtain the original with the sale. I don't understand why they didn't replace the original during the restoration. The engine number may be closer to the original commission number. I'll eventually get a Heritage Certificate for the car.
I've only had photos of the car but it's been inspected and is sound. I'll be looking for lots of info from you guys once it's delivered. Thanks for the help.
 

Geo Hahn

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Thanks. I found out that the commission number plate is not the original but will obtain the original with the sale. I don't understand why they didn't replace the original during the restoration. The engine number may be closer to the original commission number...

Are you saying the two commission plates (original and repro) have different numbers?

Usually the plate gets replaced just for cosmetic reasons in which case the numbers would be the same. The good news there is that raised type on the plate blank means it is possible to restore a worn original TR3 number plate (not so with late TR4 plates).
 
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frankfast

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No, the two commission numbers are the same. The old plate was replaced for cosmetic reasons but was installed with self tapping screws instead of being riveted. The engine number does precede that commission number by more than 3,000 units so I assume it's not the original although there have been exceptions to sequencing. Eventually I'll get confirmation through a registry.
 
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