Desert Find: 1961 Triumph TR3A


A true desert find, this 1961 TR3A has absolutely no history (the seller doesn’t even know the model year, but the commission number tells us that it’s a late 1961 car) but is surprisingly solid! It’s listed for sale here on and is located in Aztec, New Mexico. Currently, the high bid is $10 (!) and there’s no reserve!

The TR3A has been off the road for a long time as you can tell from its appearance. I wasn’t able to zoom in enough on the plate to get a date, but that style plate was used from 1977 to 1981. Although there’s enough surface corrosion that it’s difficult to tell what color the car was originally, none of it looks deep or serious. All the lights and what little chrome pieces exist are all available new.

I can tell you that there are many folks that have restored TR3s that would love to get their hands on those fenders. But I’m really hoping someone goes to the effort to get this fried find back on the road.

Needless to say, any soft parts have long been deteriorated by the desert sun. However, again, all this stuff is available new from several suppliers. The floors look solid with the same type of surface rust you see on the body panels. What does worry me a bit is the complete lack of a transmission (which has me wondering what’s holding the engine up as there are no mounts in the rear of the engine). Luckily, those are available.

This is a late TR3A; the last serial number before the change to the TR3B was TS82347. Unfortunately, with no “O” at the end, the car was not originally fitted with an overdrive; although it doesn’t really matter because there are only a few electrical components needed to fit one. They aren’t inexpensive, though; obtaining a regular four-speed would be much less (and any TR2-TR6 transmission will work with a few simple modifications).

This should be either a 1991 cc (more likely) or 2138 cc (less likely) version of the venerable wet-liner TR engine. Although a few minor parts are missing I don’t see anything that really worries me. I would certainly plan on a new wiring harness, but as with the other items you’ll need they are readily available if you don’t want to make your own. If you’ve read this far, I have a special treat for you — here’s a link to the other cars that are being auctioned, including three vintage Land Rovers, two old Jeeps, and an old GMC pickup! Would you take a shot at putting this vintage roadster back on the road?


WANTED 1968-1977 Ford Bronco Have all their parts. Running engine or rust free not necessary. Prefer southern US Contact

WANTED 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne Looking for a 1961 Biscayne in decent shape for an everyday driver. Will also consider Bel-Air Contact

WANTED 70 71 Chevrolet MonteCarlo Contact

WANTED 1967-1969 Pontiac Firebird Looking for an original 400 convertible, 3 or 4 speed preferred. No restomods. Contact

WANTED 1960-1980 International Scout Looking for solid running driving Scout 800, Scout 2 or Scout Traveler. Contact

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  1. Mike

    The front end looks like a face that’s saying “put me out of my misery”.

    Like 4
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Don’t discount desert finds. We owned a couple of Porsche 356As while living in Nevada and found all sorts of really good parts for them out in the desert. One interesting find was a completely rust free, undamaged front half of a ’58 cabriolet that we drug home and used for parts for years. The instruments were clear as glass and wound up in a couple of show cars years later. If I had TRs I would already have this car.

    Like 3
    • Laurence

      What kind of “drug” did you give to that front half of the ’58 cabriolet that you DRAGGED home? (smiling face here).

  3. Howie Mueler

    Did they just find this in the desert? Up to $175 now.

    Like 3
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    New Mexico is desert.

  5. Noel

    Looking at the transmission tunnel, I’d say the car was originally green.

    • Bill McCoskey


      Trans tunnel on TR’s is a removeable part, typically painted black.

  6. Laurence

    What kind of “drug” did you give to that front half of the ’58 cabriolet that you DRAGGED home? (smiling face here).

    Like 1
    • Euromoto Member

      What kind of “drug” are you taking such that you posted the same comment twice. (smiling face here).

      • Laurence

        Debatable as to whether worth a reply… Euromoto, if you really have to know, I did not attempt to post the same comment twice. It even appears that the system is designed to avoid double-postings. You would have to ask the website’s gremlins. As for your joke, it was so original and funny, I nearly broke a couple of ribs laughing so profusely…

  7. Bill McCoskey

    I see a couple of carbs missing the center pot caps. Plus with a missing bonnet [hood], it won’t take too many downpours of desert rain to have water entering the intake manifold, so I would plan on a total engine overhaul, including cylinder liners.

    [I ran a shop for a long time, and we specialized in British cars like the TR’s. I’m familiar with repairing cars in this condition.]

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