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TR2/3/3A Were there original body color wheels on an early TR3A?


Senior Member
From what I've read and seen, the steel wheels changed from body color to silver as part of the change from TR3 to TR3A. BUT...

I just spent the afternoon sandblasting the wheels of my TR3A which was built about 1200 cars into the series, TS232XX, made in about November 1957. 3 of the wheels were a metallic green with Apple green underneath. The fourth was silver with white underneath, probably a replacement. The car came from the factory in Apple green, and this seems like too much of a coincidence.

So what are the chances this car shipped as Apple green with matching wheels? Is there any way to know the wheel manufacture date? They are stamped SANKEY 1J x15I, A "J3" on one rims, and an "H" on the faces along with a pattern number.



Great Pumpkin
For what it's worth, my 1959 TR3A was Signal Red from the factory (BH certificate). The steel wheels are original - and don't have any evidence of re-painting. They're signal red too.



Hi Andy,

I had a `57TR3 (Small Mouth) & the wheels were painted body color. My current toy is a `61TR3A with painted "Moss Silver" wheels.

As Tom mentions; His `59TR3A has body color wheels so; "I`m guessing" that around `60 is when they started going to "Silver" wheels.

Regards, Russ

Geo Hahn

Country flag
If we are, in fact, trying to find the change point and if Tom's TS47527L came with body color wheels then I'll add that my TS47905L came with the silver wheels.

That might suggest the change was in the first half of April, 1959.

Of course not all changes were introduced cleanly at a single point.


Country flag
I would maintain that sometime around 1958 and around 29000 series the painting become more systematic. I have two 58 and one had a cream colored frame and the other had a red frame. The wheels had been over painted a few times, so I am not sure about that. I had a 61 and the frame was black and the wheels were silver. Plus the cars--- 59 and 60 I have observed all seem to have had silver wheels. I would say before and around 58 the wheels were body color.


Jedi Warrior
Country flag
My 1961 "driver" TR3A is kinda black with sploges of primer. The steels wheels were painted silver when I got it back in 2012. I repainted the wheels bright red and many people have said how they like the red steel wheels on it. :joyous:


Senior Member
Thanks everyone. That's at least one confirmed case of another 3A with body color wheels, possibly more. But I'm leaning towards painting them silver just because I like it.

Geo Hahn

Country flag
This is such an easy thing to do & redo that you should certainly do what pleases you. I went with the (incorrect) body color some years back but maybe next time I'll go back to hi-ho silver.


Luke Skywalker
From the nearly 15 years of TR ownership (off and on) and research, I've been able to find that painting is one of the single hardest elements of production to establish hard changes. As Bill Piggott points out in his book, the factory kept terrible records. Furthermore, paint supply management was hardly reliable, hence why cars got built with random body-colored (not necessarily the color of the specific car, just any body color) frames. If they ran out of black, frames were painted with whatever was in good supply.

While it has never been confirmed, I have heard it discussed that some believe that the same happened with wheels -- they sometimes ran out of silver, so every so often, wheels got painted black or body colored.

Making it tougher: so many dealers repainted cars and swapped parts (taking off wires and putting on steel wheels, or vice versa). As a now departed friend of mine who was a dealer in the era once said "it was the wild west" and dealers did anything to make a buck. Cars were ordered, sold to someone else, and another car came in and was resprayed to match another order, etc... Of course, there was also the issue of the factory paint getting ruined on long shipping trips, so often what a new owner believed was factory was something done a day or two before the car was picked up from a dealer.

I suppose the best advice is: unless you saw it going on at the factory when you took factory delivery, don't discount that a dealer screwed with your car before you picked it up ;).
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