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TR4/4A TR3 vs early TR4


Luke Skywalker
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For those of you in the know, how do you compare the driving experience between these two. Besides the upsized engine, R&P steering, and non side-screen aspect, how different are they? And by early TR4, I'm thinking 62-63...

Geo Hahn

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mrv8q said:
...Besides the upsized engine, R&P steering, and non side-screen aspect, how different are they?...

Not much, but those are some pretty noticeable differences you mention.

The boot is shaped differently but I can't say that the TR4 really holds more.

Same seats.

Can lock the cubby box (but never do).

Dash support (on the 4) is somewhat intrusive on leg room.

Much easier to get the radiator out of a TR4.

Front sidelamps on the TR4 are pretty lame.

The 4 has a slightly wider track.

Cardboard for a gearbox tunnel? Would like to meet the guy who thought that was a great idea.

No drain plug on the diff of a 4 -- not too handy.

TR3 top -- up in minutes. TR4 top -- requires a building permit in some cities.

Both great cars -- hope I never have to choose which I like best.


Luke Skywalker
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Ah, Geo, I might be able to emulate you one day, if you know what I mean...


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So keep in mind this is based on two crappy cars - mine of course, and one of them being a TR4A solid axle - but I found them to drive differently enough to be surprising. The 4A feels and drives, to me anyway, more substantial and modern. Steering, configuration of the interior and having regular doors all make for a very different experience. You thoughts based on cars in better condition may be different. (my 3a was pretty knackered when I got her, and drove like it)

Kevin - give me, oh, say 6 months and then you can do a comparison first hand.


Darth Vader
One was a roadster, the other a convertible.

Once upon a time, a friend had a TR3B, I had an early TR4. We each drove the other's car. In the end, we both agreed the TR4 was a better handling and driving experience car. (It might be because mine did have 5.5" rims and Dunlop radial 190's)

Then again, this test was done in up state NY in late fall, so weather may had a lot to do with it.

Oh, by the way, he sold 3B before the snow came.


Kevin, in a way, they are apples and oranges, in other ways, they are the same car. I had a 1958 TR3A the same time my girlfriend had an early TR4. This was in 1966.

Performance is the same: they have the same crappy steering and rear suspension. The 4 has slightly more hp, but it is a little heavier. So, performance is a wash. "Sportiness" is a different kettle of fish: with the low doors and smaller "feel" to the car, it was no contest. The 3 was a true sportscar for us oldtimers, whereas the roll-up windows were heresy. As an eye-catcher, the 3 had it over the 4, also. I can't comment on the "ride feel," as it was so long ago and my butt was 50 years younger; but, neither of them rode like a Rolls Royce, but we did not expect them to.

Now, for driving convenience, mah jongg! No contest. In top-up weather, there was ALWAYS something coming up where you were thankful you had the roll-up windows, whether a squall, a dust storm, a farmer spraying something, a swarm of mosquitos, something dead, et al. The sidecurtains are in the trunk, and, by the time you stop and get them installed, ...

We didn't have the trouble with the 4's convertible top that one observer had, probably just dumb luck on my GF's part. Her top was much easier to install than my 3 top.

Note: I just bought a TR3B. It has the 87mm pistons, and I can tell that it is alot peppier than my TR3A and her TR4 were. A lot peppier. I seem to be faster on the take off than most of the TR6s in our club, but, of course, they will leave me top-end, when their 150(?) hp kicks in. I wish I had OD.


Jedi Trainee
They had the same basic frame with some minor changes, but the 4 was a heavier car with not much more power. The biggest thing in handling was a little wider tires and the change to rack and pinion steering.


Darth Vader
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You might be ok...N/A (carb) TR6's were only 104 hp....now PI cars, might have your hands full....

M. Pied Lourd

Andrew Mace

Staff member
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BRSLimited said:
They had the same basic frame with some minor changes, but the 4 was a heavier car with not much more power. The biggest thing in handling was a little wider tires and the change to rack and pinion steering.
Tires and wheels didn't change between the two, but the TR4 did have a wider track both front and rear, in addition to the R&P steering.

Personally, I feel that the comparison is between apples and...well...another variety of apples. :wink:


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They both have a rear end that will be skittish around a bumpy corner, I think you feel closer to the ground in a 3 just because of the cut down doors, the different shape of the cars makes as much a difference as anything I think, there is much more of you exposed to the elements in a 3, you are pretty relatively well covered up on the 4.

Of course if it is more than just a fair wheather car the 4 has the better top and side windows. But most people arent't buying these cars as daily drivers anymore.

I have not owned a 3, but many drives as a passenger and a few as driver in my brothers 3 over the last 20 years or so he has had it, plus used to have a solid axle 4a, good buddy has a 4.


Luke Skywalker
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Good replies, gentlemen, thanks!


Right, MPL. Right after I posted, I realized that I was wrong on the TR6 hp, although I thought it was alot higher than 104. BTW, we have a TR4 with a Judson on it, and he can blow my doors off !!!

One last interesting fact about performance: per Bill Piggott's last book, the original TR2 was faster on acceleration than the TR7.

tr3bGeorge - my temporary room mate - told me that he didn't run into any of you at the two ABCDs he recently attended, but he met a swell crowd in the Texas Mini Owners group. He feels that he is going to place better in future shows, as he now has a picnic basket.

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