British Bulldog: 1963 Triumph TR3B

1963 Triumph TR3B

There is something so “honest” about an early Triumph TR. With its wide open grin (despite being painted black on this example) and mostly single-curvature body panels, the TR2 and TR3 series have nothing that wasn’t necessary for cost-effective, spirited motoring. This particular example comes to us courtesy of Jim S, and is located in Knightsdown, Indiana and is up for auction here on eBay.

Triumph TR3B motor

This early, TSF-series TR3B (note, it was never called the “B” from the factory) was the next-to-final development of the TR2/TR3/TR3A/TR3B series, and is essentially identical to a late TR3A with the wet-liner 1991cc 4-cylinder. The seller incorrectly notes that the car has a 2138cc TR4-type engine, which was only true of the TCF-series cars. It is true, however, that a large portion of the wet-liner engine shares its architecture with a Ferguson tractor engine, which says a lot for its longevity.

Triumph TR3B hardtop

This particular example is fitted with what may be a factory hard top; if so, that’s points in its favor as they are relatively rare. The seller states that the car was left behind when the owner left for California in 1975. Can you imagine just leaving a great sports car like this behind?

Triumph TR3B rockers

The outer panels of the body appear fairly solid, although dented in a few places, and there is some rust bubbling up along the rocker panels and the lower fenders. The car was originally white, although painted “resale red” at some point.

TR3B inner rockers

The seller has included plenty of excellent photos, and unfortunately they show that the inner rocker panels and body mountings are not in as good shape. Plenty of metal will need to be cut out here, although there are at least three specialty suppliers that can provide any replacement or patch panels that you would need. I’ve seen much worse TR3’s put back together with show-winning results. I suppose you could fix it mechanically and drive it for a while like this, but eventually something will have to be done to repair this properly.

Triumph TR3B underside

The rest of the underside of the car looks covered with surface rust, but nothing too terrible. As usual for a Triumph, the center section behind the drivetrain is covered with protective oil—we owners like to joke that it’s the factory rust proofing program!

Triumph TR3B interior

Interior-wise, it’s a mixed bag. While the seats look fairly solid (albeit needing upholstery), the floors have a significant amount of surface rust that may be too difficult to save. The dash looks complete, although the overdrive switch I would hope to see isn’t there, so this is a standard 4-speed car. I don’t have room for another Triumph…yet…how about you?

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Comments

  1. John M

    Well…..here’s another one that needs virtually everything done. These are super cool cars ( I own one) but this thing will need a lot of attention. This car obviously needs a complete tear down and rebuilding and or replacing of all components. I’m not sure if it was even given to me it would be worth restoring. It’s value now may be only as a parts car. If this were a big Healey, it may have some restoration value. But it’s a TR3 and as much as I enjoy these cars, their value just has not reached that crazy level “yet”. If you can do ALL the work yourself and have done it before, then knock yourself out. If you think you are going to have even half the work done by the pros, stay away. There are much better examples out there to mess with.

  2. Richard V

    It’s certainly possible that this car could have the 2138 cc engine. When I owned my British car shop we retrofitted a number of TR3s (including my own) with the oversized liner kits to increase the displacement. Worked out great! I also installed a wrecking-yard TR4 fully synchronized gearbox with overdrive, a perfect bolt-in affair. Earlier on this is the car that, as a “starving” college student, I couldn’t afford a rebuilt starter for, so I used to start it with the crank every day. Got lots of attention and amused many onlookers. I felt lucky, though, because I could at least start it on my own, what would they be able to do under the same conditions, call a tow truck? HA!

    Like 1
    • Bob Reynolds

      Drove my 59 all through high school. Had to use starting fluid every time I cranked it up.🤓

      Like 1
  3. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    @ John M: I won’t argue that if you wanted a concours restoration this would not be the car to start with. That being said, there’s a member of the local Triumph club I belong to with a concours-level TR250 that wanted a car to just have fun with–so he’s daily driving a TR3A that’s a lot worse looking than this one, and fixing it one piece at a time. Luckily, he’s retired, so he doesn’t HAVE to get from point A to point B on any particular schedule :-)

    @ Richard: Agreed — but if it is the original engine without a liner kit, it would be a 1991cc. And I know what you mean about the starter motor…I went a whole semester in college parking my TR6 on hills so that I could push/coast start it!

  4. Dolphin Member

    Here’s something that I do whenever a car with lots of needs comes up for sale that I want to seriously considering buying:

    – go to eBay and hit the ‘Advanced search’ link at the top of the page
    – in the ‘Keywords’ space at the top, type in the car’s name, for example TR3
    – in the ‘Category’ space select ‘eBay motors’
    – in the ‘Search including’ area select ‘Completed listings’
    – in the ‘Sort by’ area at the bottom of the page select ‘Price: highest first’
    – then click the blue ‘Search’ button at the bottom of the page

    Look at the cars that have gone through eBay, what condition they were in, and what the prices paid were. Those are a few of the comps for the car you are considering.

    When I do that for TR3 what it tells me is that I can’t get this clapped out rusty red TR3 to the condition and driveability of a lot of those recently sold TR3s for the modest difference in price between them and this rusty red car, even if I priced my labor at $0.00/hour.

  5. Rancho Bella

    Guess I ain’t that bright…………..after tear down and a bead blast I think there is a decent car in there. Blast the frame, plastic skim coat or lead any minor rust dimples and paint. As for some more seriously damaged metal, well that certainly needs to be cut out.

    On the other hand, there is a small mouth on Ebay currently…..real dreamy

    I don’t recall ever seeing a hardtop. Can some of you educate me. Was that a factory option or aftermarket?

  6. Brooklands

    Makes me happy that my TR3B was a decent runner when I acquired it, because of my sad dearth of mechanical talents. But really, the last TR3Bs were built in 1962, and they only became 1963 models if they did not sell in 1962. My car left England on May 23, 1962, and is still titled as a 1963 as well, but I consider it a 1962 model…

  7. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    @ Rancho Bella — yes, there was a factory hardtop option, it just bolts on. I believe that is one, considering the rust showing; I’m not aware of any aftermarket ones that were steel (plenty of fiber/fibre glass).

  8. LARRY

    To the writer of my article which it looks like james. I juat bought the car to sell. not an expert but I took this below from http://www.triumphtr3.net/specs.html on engine size being 2138cc.

    “TR3B”: The “Triumph TR3B” is an unofficial name given to the final version of the TR3, which was produced by the Triumph Motor Company (Standard Motor Company) in 1962. It was offered concurrent with the TR4, which started production in 1961. In fact, the “TR3B” was a special short production run produced in response to dealer concerns that the buying public might not welcome the TR4.

    It had the body of the “TR3A” (Except that the body panels had raised stampings under the hood & trunk hinges and under the door handles. In addition, the wind screen was attached with bolts rather than the Dzus connectors used on “A” models.), but the 2,138 cc. engine and all synchromesh transmission of the TR4. The engine is a straight 4, push rod, 3 bearing, with wet liners. It had 9:1 compression and was very rigid. It was fitted with two H6 SU carburettors. It had 105 hp (78 kW) at 4,650 rpm and 172 N·m (127 ft·lbf) of torque at 3,350 rpm. It got around 20 miles per US gallon (12 L/100 km; 24 mpg-imp) to 30 miles per US gallon (7.8 L/100 km; 36 mpg-imp). The top speed was limited to about 110 mph (177 km/h). by the gear ratio, unless it had overdrive. Electrically triggered overdrive (Laycock-de-Normanville Type A) was available as an option and operated on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears. Appearance was identical to the “TR3A”, and as such very similar to the TR3, except for a wider grill and door handles.

    Like 1
    • Jim

      The TR3 “B” was not the point where the raised body stampings started on the hinge mounts on the hood and the trunk. TR3A’s had the change starting at TS60001. I had a 61 TR3A with raised stampings at comm. # TS72119L

      According to the TRA Judging standards the Dzuz fasteners switched to bolts somewhere in the late run of TR3A’s (mine still had Dzuz fasteners) but I’m not exactly sure where the cut-off was.

      The TR3B body was identical to the late run TR3A bodies.

      Yes… I have studied the minutia of Triumph details entirely too much. When it sits in the garage not running yet again and you have too much free time you end up reading every scrap of information you can find.

  9. John

    Is money pit one word, or two. Either way, that’s what this one looks like. It’s a shame, TR3Bs were a blast to drive.

  10. Mike D

    I had a TR3B and the trans in my car was fully synchronized. The shifter on my car was not straight up as this one is. It was angled back like the TR 4 shifters. I thought all 3Bs had TR4 transmissions in them. Any ideas??

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Mike, my Italia based on TSF524 LCO had an original TR3 tranny…

  11. John M

    If this car was at least running, then sure, you could patch it up a bit and drive it around, and use it as a conversation piece. But it isn’t even running. I just can’t see anything about this car that says “value”. I mean, show me one thing on this car that doesn’t need to be refurbished or replaced. It’s not like you can’t look around for very used “running” TR3’s. You could sink 10-12K into this car and still have all the mechanical work to do. I still maintain, if you want to get an old british roadster in this kind of condition, try and find a Big Healey that needs everything. At least there is the potential of recouping your investment.

  12. gunningbar

    I always say “save it from the breakers” and often get negative feedback….but if I were younger and in better health…oh hell I d pass…but I d love to see some father and son take this on…learn n do the welding etc and have a driveable T R 3 (and all those memories)…when they re done…..Okay..I m an unrealistic optimist……

    Like 1

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