1957 Triumph TR3: Father-Son Friendly?

1957 Triumph TR3

Growing up, my brother and I were the keepers of the car-enthusiast flame in our house. My folks weren’t much into them, but they indulged our hobby as much as possible. To me, the classic Triumph TR3 is a perfect platform from which to build a bond over restoring a car, whether it’s a parent and their kid or even among friends. That’s why this 1957 example I found here on eBay caught my eye, though there is a reserve price that remains unmet. The TR3 is blissfully simple and has wide support among enthusiasts, so parts hunting shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. This particular barn-fresh TR3 runs but will need floors and some rust repair. Does anyone have any good stories of family projects like this?

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Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    I got into this hobby myself (Dad was long there) when he helped me drag home a ’69 Sprite when I was 12. This was after many years of helping him with his cars. Never looked back.

    British cars of the 60’s and 70’s are a great place to teach basic electricity, patience, rewards for hard work, reading and researching how to do things, etc. And they are simple enough that anyone with the desire to do so is capable of learning how things are done.

    Hope a Dad and child end up with this one. :-)

  2. jimbosidecar

    My story is almost the polar opposite. At 15 years of age I found a 1965 Austin Mini Cooper in a junk yard having been abandoned after it threw a rod. I bought it for $25 and attempted to walk it home like a dog. Of course the police weren’t having any of that, so they stopped me half way home and called for a tow. My $25 investment had now doubled to $50! Living in an apartment complex I just parked it with all the other cars in the lot, so my parents would never know. Then a few months later, with the Mini Cooper still not repaired, I bought a 1956 Austin Healey 100.4 for $300. This time I had it towed and again parked it in my apartment’s parking lot. Nobody knew who owned the 2 unlicensed cars and I spent the next year getting the 11.4 driveable. I never did get the Mini Cooper fixed, so I ended up trading it for a racing kart. And my family never did know who owned the 2 derelect British cars sitting in the apartment complex parking lot.

  3. Jim

    I’ve grown up around British cars my entire life. My dad bought a gray MGTD when he was 17 in 1958. Some guy in the service had dragged it into southern Illinois from Algeria and it still had Algerian plates on it. He drove the snot out of it, drove into the hills of TN to replace the knocking motor with a rebuilt one some guy advertised in the back of Road and Track. Later he upgraded and bought a MGA Coupe. Unfortunately that one was crushed under the rear of a dump truck (its a wonder my parents were still alive).

    So he was MG-less for several years and tried to make do with a couple of Corvairs. Meanwhile my grandpa found another TD in the mid-60’s and bought it for himself. This is a picture of the car sometime around 1967. From what I can tell I think he painted it with a roller and a can of rustoleum green. After grandpa died in ’71 my dad and I got a ride 100 miles down to his house and drove the TD back to our house in the middle of winter. I was in 1st grade so probably 6 or 7 years old but I still remember how much fun we had bundled up in blankets and goggles with the top down flying down all the two-lane highways home.

    This is the car I grew up working on. Rebuilt the carbs several times over the years, learned how to fix the brakes, replaced a starter, generator…. all the normal stuff 10 or 15 years of owning an old british car involves. By the time I was 16 I took my driving test in this car. It was a blazing hot June afternoon and the DMV officer told me to go out and start the car. He figured I’d get the AC going. He came out and saw the car and winced. When he sat down on the hot seat he groaned. We pulled out of the parking lot and made 3 right turns around the block and back to the DMV. “That’s enough – you pass”. LOL

    So when I was 17 my dad and I started looking around for a car for me. Looked at a couple of very tired and shaggy Midgets and Sprites and then word got around that a teacher he knew had a TR3 sitting in his barn. He was the autobody teacher at the Junior College and they had redone it as a project. He had no abilities in troubleshooting the actual engine in a car and when it stopped running he just parked it for about 10 years.

    I paid $2400 for a TR3 with perfect paint and interior but didn’t run. I swear I will never do that again (but I probably will). We towed it 90 miles back to the house and had it running that afternoon. New points and cleaning up the rotor was all it took. I then spent the next year finding out all of the things that I would have found wrong had it been running to begin with. First off the front axle stub sheared off the first day I drove it to school. Fortunately the girl riding in the jumpseat noticed it as it started wobbling and I was able to stop without damaging anything. That lead down the road to finding every single suspension bushing wasted beyond use. Then i noticed that the throw-out-bearing was making all kinds of noise. 3 defective Borg-Warner plates later I finally got that one working.

    Anyway. It was an adventure. I ended up selling the car about 8 years ago when life seriously got in the way and it had to go. I sold it to a guy on the board of our local Triumph club and he recently sold it to a nice couple down in San Diego (after offering it back to me for an insanely cheap price even with a new coat of paint). So I get to see it now and then and I am happy that it is being loved and used. Fortunately I had the time with my son to do plenty of work on it as he was growing up so we have those memories and that bond. Now he’s of the age that he’s looking for a car and is ready to do whatever work he needs to do on it himself or with a little help from dad.

    I WILL have another LBC. Sooner than later. I love the TR3 but these days the idea of roll-up windows have a certain appeal. Something will come along. Maybe a spridget…. I’ve got a thing for underdogs so Triumph Heralds keep catching my eye too.

    • Eric M.

      That’s a great story. Thanks for sharing, Jim.

  4. Doug M. (West) Member

    My first exposure to fixing up cars was when I was about 6 and my uncle took me for a ride in his MG-TD. It started raining and he zipped up the tonneu cover clear up around him and kept driving. My brother and I were croutching under the cover while we drove in the rain. Then he got a brand new 64 Sunbeam Alpine. I have done British sports cars now for many years…and branched out into BMW’s, Porsche’s, Volvo’s and anything else that I find that is fun or interesting. It is just plain fun to stand back and admire when you finally get a project finished!

  5. mg Kent

    My introduction into british motoring, at 16 was a (well used) 1965 Austin Healey Sprite. My mom and dad were concerned about their son’s safety in a vehicle were the driver could “touch the ground”, but were tolerant of my burgeoning love for british cars. From there,
    I graduated to a BGT, and AH 3000, both in very rough shape. Along the way I married a
    loving, and very tolerant wife, and over the years evolved into more utilitarian drivers like a VW van, Beetle, and several Volvo 245’s.
    Now, nearing retirement, she and I are nearing completion of a 1937 MGTA, and have acquired a 1949 MGTC EXU. also in need of a complete restoration. Hoping to
    live long enough to enjoy driving both of these classics, but most of all, “enjoying the ride”
    of British motoring .

  6. Joe

    Funny how these British cars just hang around a family. We are now into our third generation of supporters. My grandson and I now work together getting the old gals ready for the summer driving season. His favorite is the TD, mine is the TR3 and my son likes the TR6 he drove to High School.

    I still smile when he talks to his friends about the cars having “pull button” starting just like modern cars. Side curtains still amaze him. I still remember him asking “how did you and Nonni , drive these cars without windows and no heaters in the snow and rain.” He now understands why I still carry a wool blanket in the cars, and a rag to wipe the windscreen with and after getting caught last summer in a shower he understands why we practice each Spring the ritual of getting the top up and finding overpasses for shelter.

    Hopefully he will remember those times as fondly as his Poppy does.

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