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Back On The Road: 1959 Triumph TR3A

The Triumph TR3 was built between 1955 and 1962 and one of its unofficial variants was the TR3A. This was a popular little sports car that achieved some success on the autocross circuit. From 1959 comes this daily driver-quality TR3A that was recently revived from longer-term storage. It presents well and drives even better, according to the seller. Located in Norfolk, Connecticut, this beautiful roadster is available here on Barn Finds Classifieds for $15,950.

British-built TR3s used removable plexiglass side curtains rather than roll-up windows. This helped but the driver was more in touch with the road. Nearly 75,000 of them were produced, including 58,000 TR3As. The TR3As and TR3Bs were never badged as such, just evolutions of the original design. The first TR3As were built in 1957 and had changes in the grille, door handles, and a locking trunk handle. Front disc brakes were still standard equipment. When the seller’s 1959 edition was built, they had a reworked rear floor that we assume provided a bit more room.

As the story goes, this car had the same owner for 20 years and more than $10,000 was spent on it during that time to keep it up. After he passed away, the car was sent to a British sports car shop for a revitalization process that cost an additional $2,700. Now, at nearly 89,000 miles, we’re told the car performs quite well. The body and paint look great, though there is some surface rust in the interior and trunk which makes it more of a daily driver than a show car.

The TR3A represented about three-quarters of all TR3 sales, and it’s estimated that maybe only 15% of them survive today. If you’re looking for an English sports car that you can spend more time driving than working on, this one might be it. But we all know how these little automobiles love attention!


  1. Avatar photo Joe Mec Member

    Nice to see a good TR3A. It shows well but is a driver. My kind of example. Remember, folks. These were made to be driven and not just sit in a garage!

    Like 10
  2. Avatar photo bobhess Member

    These cars are fun for the power alone. The fastest of the ’50s small engine British cars. The ’57s on even had adjustable rear shocks to maximize the handling. Nice example here.

    Like 6
  3. Avatar photo Hurtado

    Did this car use metric?

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo tompdx

      Nope. Britain remained the center of the universe well into the late ’70s, hence the metric system was shunned until then. After that, you could be assured that some of your British car would be metric, and some SAE. How convenient.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Bob

      No, British standard

      Like 5
      • Avatar photo Nevada1/2rack Member

        AKA Whitworth?

        Like 4
  4. Avatar photo randy willett

    BUY IT, drive it and have fun!

    Like 2
  5. Avatar photo John Frazier

    Can a 6’3″, 260 lb. guy fit behind the wheel?

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo BCB

      Barely. But it’s worth it…

      Like 0
      • Avatar photo Rick Brown

        I am 6′-3″. 1961 TR-3A was my first car and had no trouble getting in and out. That also includes a ’56 Speedster, ’62 356B, ’69 MGB and ’74 TVR 2500M.

        Like 0
    • Avatar photo M. Anthony

      Well, I am a guy your size. I don’t know about the TR3A for sure, but I did drive a TR4A, Austin Healy Sprite, Opel GT, Fiat 124, & X1/9 without issues. The Opel GTand X1/9 were daily drivers, and neither is roomy. I sat, Go for it!

      Like 1
    • Avatar photo Bob Coker

      Sorry, John. This is a car you might have to put on, not get in…

      Like 1
  6. Avatar photo Bob

    No, British standard…

    Like 4
  7. Avatar photo John

    Does this one have the overdrive? I had that in a ‘59 that was the light yellow color, with wire wheels and a roll bar. I got it for doing a wheel well radius job on a guys ‘63 Corvette roadster. It ran well until the weather got hot and I was in Vegas. Had four other cars and a motorcycle as a single guy, so I had to let it go. Would love to have it now!

    Like 2
  8. Avatar photo Garry

    I was driving across the Liverpool Plains in NSW, Austra couple of year ago and I saw about ten or a dozen of these headed in the opposite direction.


    Like 2
  9. Avatar photo Glemon

    If there is any car that seems happier or more appropriately a rough and ready driver it so the TR3. The ride is jouncy, it is loud, you are exposed to the elements, these are all good things for a weekend Sportscar. But anyway, a little patina or a few imperfections really seem to match the rough and ready nature of the car more than something restored to cosmetic perfection.

    Like 4
  10. Avatar photo Brian M Member

    No overdrive on this one. Would have LO at the end of the commission number. The rework of the rear “seat” area was done to allow changing of the rear shock absorbers from underneath the car without having to take out some of the rear carpeting and rubber plugs filling the access holes for one of the bolts. That procedure most likely required one person in the car and one under the car. I did mine whilst the body was off in the mid 80’s during its restoration. Much easier. Next month will be the 51st anniversary of my purchase, although it was off the road from June 1974 to November 2007 due to a transfer overseas in the USAF for six years, one heart attack, two years of disassembly, twenty some odd years of waiting for inspiration and money, and fourteen months in the body shop. Have put about 1000 miles per year on it, initially tight sphinctered for the first few years when it won many trophies. First stone chip took care of the anxiety and now it is displayed with a “Kids Friendly” placard and all sorts of “kids” have enjoyed sitting in it for photos. I’m 5’4″ and stretch for the foot controls because my 38″ waist prevents moving the seat closer (nuts!). I have moved the seat back at some shows and have had six-foot plus folks in it. Ingress not too bad; graceful egress, ehhhhh, not so much. Have had it to 95 mph on the interstate, in the dark (damn you, Joe Lucas) but will probably not do that again as I am nearly 80 and essentially blind in one eye.
    I have a couple of project cars waiting for someone to say: “Hey, Brian, I’ll take them!” Still gotta finish the Sprite and Herald and get the TR7 back on the road before the next twenty years go by.

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo Richard

    Very nice example of a TR-3. The price seems reasonable. Good luck to the seller and new owner.

    Like 0

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