Driveway Find: 1963 Triumph TR4

Following his success with the Herald, Giovanni Michelotti was invited by Triumph to take a stab at a new design for their TR series of sports cars. The TR4 was a radical departure that ushered in design cues that would continue through both Michelotti’s TR5/TR250 and the Karmann-designed TR6. This 1963 example is currently located in Omaha, Nebraska, and is up for auction here on eBay. At the time of writing, bidding has reached only $910, with just over two days remaining in the auction.

While its lines proclaimed the arrival of a new aesthetic, the changes did not end with the new style. Deeper doors allowed for the luxury of roll-down windows, banishing side-curtains from the TR line for good. Steering was improved to rack-and-pinion, while the transmission gained synchromesh on all four gears. The optional overdrive could now be engaged on the top three gears, instead of just fourth. While the TR4 retained the Standard I4 which had seen service in both the TR3 and TR2, the cylinders were bored out, increasing displacement to 2.1L. This provided 105 brake horsepower and 127 lb.ft. of torque. Impressive enough power for a car that weighs just a little over a ton; now consider that some of these cars were fitted with Judson superchargers.

From the body number, this example was likely produced quite early in 1962, and it seems to be equipped with a nice hard top; this will be a welcome addition in any real weather, and has likely helped with the preservation of the interior. The upholstery looks serviceable, and if the goal is a driver then one might get away with a good detailing on the dash. There is rust in a lot of the usual places, including the fenders behind the front wheel wells, but the rockers don’t seem to have rotted away, and there’s no evidence of daylight in the floorboards– so the new owner may get lucky. The seller states that the car has been sitting for 20 years in its current location, presumably since it left Virginia. This may account for its state of preservation: it has rust, but not Nebraska rust.

While the seller is offering the car without a title, it’d be a shame to cannibalize a complete car in decent condition for parts. Assuming the frame is sound, this one might be brought back. There are any number of local Triumph clubs that are an amazing resource for know-how and help chasing down parts. In good condition, the TR4 can be a fun summertime ride that’s at home on back roads or your local cars and coffee. If bidding doesn’t pick up, it looks like someone might just get a deal.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Again, this is pretty amazing. Perhaps you’ve heard ( and are tiring) of the story about my brother buying that ’63 Alfa Spider in the early ’70’s for $500 bucks, and the seller “threw in” a very tired black TR4. Well, THIS, was that exact car( only I think it was a ’64). The Alfa ran and drove, but we had to tow the TR4 home. It looked exactly like this. We got it running ( poorly) and cleaned it up and sold it for $250, making the Alfa $250 as well. Hey, it was the ’70’s, and you couldn’t GIVE these cars away. Same old thing here, a project like this, to even get to drive, will cost a fortune( ever price parts at the British sites? )It’s not for the weak of wallet. Good parts car here, and just go out and buy a nice one that the seller already lost their shirt on.

    Like 6
    • grant

      Hi Howard! I’ve had pretty good luck sourcing parts for my Midget at reasonable prices throigh British Parts Northwest out of Dayton Oregon.

  2. Indy-Car-Nut

    How do you fill this car with gas? The stock gas cap location only has a rubber bung filling the hole (in the pic showing the boot)

  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    No proper care or feeding going on around this car. Think maybe Howard called this one.

    Like 2
  4. JMB#7

    Someone needs to take a look at the frame. Honestly for the money, it does not scare me at all. The frame will tell the story if it is worth saving as a complete car.

    Like 4
  5. Frank

    A jack up the radiator cap vehicle. Money pit,probably has rusted body panels too.

    • Bruce

      There is a big difference between a rusted panel that you need to fabricate the complex shapes to make a replacement and one you just purchase over the counter. This car is of the latter kind and I have owned a few of them and they are very easy to restore if you are taking your time and can be coxed into another 20 to 40 horsepower without too much effort or cost.

      I would bite but I got used to the IRS system that was a much smoother and better handling ride.

  6. Laurence

    The TR-6 was a Michelotti-Karmann design. What Karman did was update the Michelotti TR-4/5/250 design by changing the front and giving the back a Kamm tail. The profile, however, remained the same. The doors, the windscreen, the dimensions of the cockpit, the wheel wells, etc ,all ramained identical.

    Like 1
  7. Bill McCoskey

    The hardtop is not factory, it’s likely a Palmer or Pioneer hardtop, can’t tell from that distance. The comment about the frame is correct. Triumph used a ladder frame with square tube main sides, but left the rear frame ends open. This allowed water and dirt to enter and slowly work down to the low points in the frame, and rot the bottom out.

    It’s not moved in 20 years leads me to believe the floors are going to require renewal, and the frame will probably need work too. From a pure financial side, this car will leave the buyer upside down, just making it reliable and driveable again. I know, as I ran a TR restoration and parts company years ago. The good side of restoring one is EVERY part of the car is available, either NOS or reproduced.

    Like 3

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