Live Auctions

1959 Triumph TR3 With Factory Hard Top

In 1952, Standard Motor Company needed a new sports car to replace the Triumph 2000. A gap in the marketplace had opened up, between MG’s tiny Midget series at the low end, and the Jaguar XK 120 at the high end. The Triumph TR2 filled that gap. The TR2 was cobbled together with modified parts from the Standard Flying nine (chassis), the Mayflower (suspension and rear axle), and the Standard Vanguard (motor). Though racing was not top of mind for its creators, TR2 owners raced the holy heck out of their cars. TR2s campaigned in the Mille Miglia, the Alpine Rally, the Tulip Rally, and more. In 1955 the car was restyled, and the motor was upgraded. The new car was called the TR3. Here on craigslist is a 1959 TR3 project car with a factory hard top, for sale at $15,450. This car is in La Habra, California. Thanks to T. J. for the tip!

The TR3 was made in three iterations. The first series had a small grille, and a 1991 cc motor with twin SU carburetors developing about 95 bhp. In 1957, improvements to the motor hiked the horsepower to 100 bhp. The grille was widened across the car’s snout for better cooling and outside door handles were added. Collectors call this version the “TR3A”, but the factory never called it that. (The last version brought out in 1962 was unofficially called the TR3B.) All TR3s after 1956 had front disc brakes, which revolutionized the braking experience. The transmission was a four-speed manual, with optional overdrive. The car’s top speed was 105 mph, and 0 to 60 was about 10 seconds. Of course, it went racing: in 1957, a TR3 won its class at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Its low center of gravity and great traction brought it rally success as well. The seller doesn’t tell us if this motor turns but save for a battery, most of the equipment is present. Mileage is quoted at 98,000.

The interior is almost nice – good seats, clean dash, intact steering wheel, and all of its gauges. The TR3 was a true roadster, with a convertible top and side curtains. The seller doesn’t mention whether side curtains come with this car. The hard top was a factory option. This car is fitted with a luggage rack, a rear seat for the pygmy in your life, and one outside fender mirror.

The color is Primrose Yellow, and it is equipped with steel wheels. This car might be a worthy project if it’s not rusty, but it is pricey. Perhaps a better decision would be to bring it to running order and drive it without restoring it. What do you think?


  1. robj Member

    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one with a factory hardtop. It’s a good fit and looks good.

    Like 5
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    lacquer over grey primer means total paint strip and right rear fender repair. Not going to be a cheap fix, especially if the buy it price doesn’t come down. Fun cars if you don’t break the bank buying one.

    Like 2
  3. numskal Member

    This is a small dealership who is 5 miles from my house. I have driven past there many times, always has some British cars in stock (I think he’s British too).

    Like 6
    • Euromoto Member

      Phil Newey Sports Cars. He seems to have a lot of interesting cars, many in rough shape, and asks a lot of money for them. He’s had cars featured here on BF in the past, I’ve commented on the dealership before.

      Like 2
  4. Slomoogee

    Looks like a solid project but the asking price is high for what it will take just to make it a driver.

    Like 2
  5. Will Coyle

    Had a very similar ‘59 TR3, red with solid wheels (in 1966). It would boil while running in the summer (See Also Fresno, Ca), used to run so HOT my girl friend, now wife would hang her legs out over the cut down doors to escape the heat.
    As I recall we were ALWAYS repairing it and dad owned a machine shop or it would have been scrapped. These cars are in no way like modern vehicles and most certainly not for the uninitiated. Most trips involved “out and under” to attempt a road side repair with the extensive tool kit I learned to carry.
    GOOD LUCK, you are gonn’a need it…….

    Like 3
    • mike kibler

      i owned a couple tr-3s. only used in summertime. never had problems with virtually no repairs. always started easy after winter storage. good simple cars. very dependable.

  6. Armstrongpsyd Armstrongpsyd Member

    Thanks Michelle, I appreciate your history of the model. I did a five year, nut and bolts resto of a 59 TR3 and drove it happily and trouble free for a couple of years. The biggest problem was the time it took to extract myself from conversations every single time I drove it. People love these cars and either want to share stories or gush over the aesthetics. This one seems over priced, but the seller will learn what the market will bear. The Roadster Factory has any part you might need to restore it, and their prices are reasonable, and their people are helpful.
    These are tough cars and an athletic endeavor to drive. Overdrive is necessary for the open road, but mountain curves are a second/third experience. I sold mine to a fellow in France who plans to race it on the European vintage circuit. I’d love to go and watch it compete with its peers.

    Like 4
  7. TerryJ

    Had a ’59 with a factory hardtop. British Racing Green, wire wheels. Rock solid little car the years I had it and was a blast to drive. FYI: The engines are “wet sleeve” design. Like a big rig diesel, if it needed a rebuild, you would remove the cylinder sleeves and install new ones. “wet sleeve” means the cylinders were thus surrounded by the coolant in the open water jackets. :-) Terry J

    Like 2
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      Yes, the motors were used in Ferguson tractors!

      Like 2
  8. Lowell Peterson

    Phil knows what he is doing! He has a perfect vision of the current market. I think these and MGTD’s are going to go up in value. They are real easy to get parts for, easy to work on and loads of fun to drive! What else matters? That is…unless you are flipping instead of enjoying? What a mess that has made of the car hobby! IMHO?

    Like 5
  9. MarveH

    I have always liked these, although ive never driven one. Now im going to make a wet blanket comment on factory hardtops. I find that they are nothing more than garage obstacles.
    I had one, thoght it was a good idea but I only drove the car in nice weather, when I wanted the top down anyway. After moving the hartop around the garage for the millionth time I got rid of it. I know they add value but for sunny day cars they are pointless.

    Like 1
  10. Mark Member

    Well, what high school did you attend in Fresno in 1966? I went to McLane.

    • Will Coyle

      Madera, we were Coyotes, also class of 66,I referenced Fresno because who ever heard of Madera?

  11. Wayne from Oz

    There was also a long door and short door version these. The “long” refers to how far down the door goes, not the length of the doors.

    • Wayne from Oz

      Should read how far the door goes down, not the length of the door.

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