It’s arguably better-known for bikes like the Bonneville today, but Triumph made cars, too, once upon a time. And in competing with fellow British automaker MG, it developed a wide array of beloved sporty roadsters. But while some of these models can command a premium, there are still some affordable ones out there. This week’s Bring a Trailer bargain, a 1960 Triumph TR3—specifically, a TR3A—is one of them.
The TR3 is the third-gen version of the seminal Triumph Roadster
After WWII, American soldiers returned home having discovered the joy of light British roadsters like the MG TC. But at the time, Triumph had just started rebuilding its bombed factory, and lacked a suitable rival, RM Sotheby’s explains.
However, it quickly put together a prototype, fittingly called the ‘Triumph Roadster.’ And after selling a few examples, the automaker released a follow-up, the 1953 TR2, or ‘Triumph Roadster 2,’ Autoweek reports. The TR2, in turn, morphed into the 1955 Triumph TR3, Automobile explains.
Initially, the Triumph TR3 had a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 95 hp and a four-speed manual, E&R Classics reports. However, in 1956 Triumph boosted the engine’s output to 100 hp. That same year the TR3 also became the first British production car with standard front disc brakes, Hagerty reports. And while it has a live rear axle, it also has independent front suspension and an optional anti-roll bar. As a result, the Triumph TR3 was a rather excellent sports car back in the day, Car and Driver reports.
Admittedly, the Triumph TR3 was never a luxurious sports car. The earliest examples, like the later Shelby Cobra and Dodge Viper RT/10, didn’t even have standard door handles. Then again, considering its swoopy doors are “so low that you can touch the ground without leaning over,” Road & Track reports, that’s not necessarily a problem. However, a rear bench seat was a factory option, Hemmings reports.
Luckily, Triumph soon addressed the TR3’s shortcomings with an updated model: the TR3A.
The 1960 Triumph TR3A on Bring a Trailer
The 1960 Triumph TR3 currently listed on Bring a Trailer is one of the updated TR3A cars. Mechanically identical to pre-1957 TR3s, the TR3A—which isn’t an official name—has a few extra ‘luxury’ touches. Namely, standard exterior door handles, an upgraded interior, a locking trunk, and standard turn-signal and parking indicators, Hemmings reports.
This particular 1960 Triumph TR3 has a few extra amenities on top of that. It has a locking glove compartment, a passenger grab bar, wing windows, a heater, and lap belts. Plus, in addition to the locking trunk, it has a chrome rear luggage rack. The red-painted brake calipers and drums, though, are a personal touch.
Admittedly, this 1960 Triumph TR3 isn’t perfect. It has a few paint flaws, a chip in the windshield, and a minor fender dent. Also, it rides on tires dating back to 2003. Plus, the seller notes that it can be difficult to start if it sits for an extended period. Though, to be fair, that’s often a problem with modern cars, too.
However, this 1960 Triumph TR3 is in great shape overall. And as Classics World notes, it’s an enjoyable “back-to-basics” roadster to drive and own.
It’s an affordable vintage British convertible sports car
As of this writing, this 1960 Triumph TR3 is listed on Bring a Trailer for $16,000 with three days left in the auction. Given its condition, that’s a somewhat below-average price.
Triumph TR3 prices were briefly on the rise, but have been steadily dropping for the past few years, Hagerty reports. And compared to contemporaries like the Austin-Healey 3000 and E-Type, the TR3 is somewhat under-valued. As a result, a good-condition example typically goes for less than $20k, Hagerty reports. And most TR3s on Bring a Trailer sell for less than $30,000.
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