Change of Pace: 1963 Triumph TR4

1963-triumph-tr4

With the cars we’ve seen on Barn Finds that have significant rust, and the discussions about the pros and cons about taking on such projects, it might be good to look at a barn find car that doesn’t look like it will collapse into a big pile of rusty red flakes any minute. This 1963 TR4 looks like it might be such a car, and it’s in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It looks pretty good in the photos although the description only states that the engine turns by hand and doesn’t say anything about whether the car runs and drives. It’s available here on eBay and is bid to almost $3,000 with the reserve not yet met. Anyone interested?

triumph-4-cylinder

The TR4 replaced the very successful TR3 in the early 1960s, and was a big step up in the modernization of the car’s styling. But underneath the car remained almost the same as before, with a strong 4-cylinder engine that became even stronger by the increase in displacement of more than 200cc to 2138cc. The frame and drivetrain also remained essentially the same. But the body was designed by the Italian designer Michelotti. The car was well received by most Triumph fans and more than 40,000 of them were made during a span of about 5 years.

tr4-dash-vents

There are plenty of topside photos of the car in the eBay listing but none of the underside. Although the car looks pretty good, including the engine bay where there is no serious rust showing, there is a 4-post lift in the large garage where the car is sitting, and it would have been helpful to bidders to include at least a few underside shots. The description is sparse although it touches on some major points and seems honest. The seller has all positive feedback, including for other cars sold, which is reassuring.

trunk-rust

If I were interested in this TR4, I might be tempted to contact the seller – the contact information is given in the listing – and ask about underbody rust and also for a photo of the trunk area, especially since he does say that an area of the floor needs a patch. If the metal needs aren’t serious, this car could be a fairly easy one to bring back, at least to driver condition, with some mechanical servicing and interior work. Any takers?

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Comments

  1. Tom Stewart

    Hmm, says it needs a patch on the left floor. Wish he’d have shown that. The fact that it’s in Florida would really make me wonder about the underside, if I was going to bid on it. Otherwise, what’s shown looks pretty good.

  2. Vince Habel

    I know a guy that had one of these. He said he spent more time under it than in it.

  3. RickyM

    Nice little Triumph. Plus there are some other lovely cars in the garage, Would love the Rolls Royce Corniche………

  4. John M

    Not a whole lot to like here. Give me the Healey that is next to it! This TR4 appears it has suffered a lot from being in a very moist environment for a long time, and I suspect that is why it is being auctioned off on ebay. The shop that it is sitting in obviously works on British roasters and they probably came to the same conclusion. That being, that this baby is too far gone. Don’t let that bright red paint fool you. Look at the small stuff like all that mold in the interior and the way the interior door panels fit against the body. And all the rust showing around the seams. Someday the TR4 may be worth sinking 15-20K into for restoration. That day is still about 15-20 years away.

  5. jim s

    this would need a PI before being bid on as i too wonder why the shop is not doing any work on it. a lot of interesting vehicles in the background. nice find.

  6. Paul B

    I like these. TR4s with the live axle are better handlers that TR4As with IRS, though the ride is as rough as the TR3 from which they are derived. As others say … the condition combined with the price make me a little leery. You could sink a lot of money into this before having a solid reliable car. $2000? I’d be in. Maybe. But for all that rust.

  7. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    i suspect it’s being sold because the shop delivered an estimate to the owner that was way over the budget for the work. My first Triumph was a 4A; I’m one of the few out there that actually prefer it over the 4 (probably for sentimental reasons). I agree about the need for some undercar looking before purchase, but the price doesn’t seem out of line as long as there’s nothing too major under there.

  8. Classic Car Fan

    “increase in displacement of more than 200cc to 2138cc”
    Sorry to be Pedant of the Day….. but the capacity was upped from 1991cc to 2138cc which is only an increase of 147cc !

    Having just finished a long-term restoration on my own TR4 – I’d say this one looks quite a realistic prospect for rescue and decent value at $3,000. As others have said, a lot of it depends on the condition of the body in places you can’t see in those photos.

    There is a lot of superficial rust on the surfaces of ancillaries like the valve cover, wiper motor, master cylinder mount and the area on the bulkhead under the battery. Unfortunately that would suggest that this car has probably been sitting for a long time in less-than-ideal atmospheric conditions so I’d think the chances of more hidden rust would be high? Still, these are (relatively) easy bodies to work on. There are very few “boxed” sections and all the replacement panels are available.

    I see quite a few small details that aren’t original or correct. It has the correct steel dash but should be painted white not black. The inlet manifold and carbs look like the later types off a TR4A, and the console around the gear lever and radio is TR4A. The seats look serviceable though they are the wrong color. They should be black with white piping (look at the door cards). I also see a worrying amount of “additional wiring” in the engine bay which is not untypical of these cars after 50 years of improvised fixes, but always means some work to do. I wonder if at some stage a previous owner of this car had a TR4A part car with a red interior ?

    On the plus side, this car is pretty much all there and I’d say it would make a good starting point. These are very straightforward cars mechanically and any competent home mechanic could cope with it. If you can do the work yourself and not be paying someone else for the labor – this should be a viable.

  9. Woodie Man

    That poor TR wreaks of humidity and mold. WTH is going on with the shift surround? Looks like something from the movie THEM! Florida is a humid hellhole where people and cars go to die. Jess sayin!

  10. Bill M

    Forget the TR-4, I ran a large shop specializing in the TR line, they were cheap British vehicles and needed plenty of help when they were only a few years old. I much prefer the White Rolls-Royce coachbuilt Corniche Coupe by James Young!

  11. Karl

    With TR4’s and 4A’s you have to have a real good look at the frame….they rust from the inside out and often needs to be replaced..

  12. Rex Kahrs Member

    Flood car.

    • Bill M

      Rex — after looking at the pics again, I’m in agreement that it could very well be a flood victim. The easiest way to tell is to feel the tops of the instrument cases behind the facia for a large amount of silt/mud. If it’s a flood car, it’s also a parts car.

      And Karl – you are so right,they rot the frames forward of the rear wheels at the low spot near the leaf spring mount. The IRS frames are even worse, I’ve seen entire rear suspension/axle/wheel assemblies pull loose when the frame failed. If you have a TR4 IRS with a hopped up engine, or a TR 5/6 with the larger engine, check the frame mounting for the diff unit, they break off the bolts holding the diff to the frame, one at a time!

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