Eye For Detail: 1958 Triumph TR3

Classic car enthusiasts are a hardy group of people, and they tend to be passionate about their cars. However, some people can take this passion to a higher level when they tackle a restoration project. That seems to be the case with the owner of this 1958 Triumph TR3. It has been beautifully restored, but the owner has decided to part with his pride and joy. It is located in Mill Valley, California, and the owner has listed it for sale here on Barn Finds Classifieds. You can take this classic British sports car home for $19,000.

Introduced in 1955, the Triumph TR3 remained in production until 1962. The model underwent its first upgrade in 1957, and while not officially badged as such, it became known as the “TR3A.” This Triumph is one of those cars, and it demonstrates my belief that the difference between a good restoration and a great one comes down to an eye for detail. The owner performed most of the work himself, and the result is a British Racing Green sports car that presents beautifully. His cause was aided by the fact that he commenced the process with an essentially rust-free vehicle. There was some surface corrosion, but this was sanded and treated to ensure that it couldn’t deteriorate any further. The owner hand-sanded every square inch of the car before he applied the fresh paint, and the result is panels and paint that are close to perfect. The Black soft-top is in excellent order, while the chrome and trim shine beautifully. The underside of the Triumph is spotless, with no signs of any rust or corrosion. The focus of this restoration was on maintaining as much of the vehicle’s originality as possible. To this end, most replacement parts were OEM components, while every original nut and bolt was subjected to a “tap-and-die” treatment to ensure that all of the threads are perfect. That sort of attention to detail reflects the approach of a passionate enthusiast.

Classic British sports cars from this era were never renowned for possessing heaps of power, but Triumph made some attempts to address this perceived shortfall with the TR3A. Under the hood, we find a 1,991cc 4-cylinder engine fed by a pair of SU carburetors. This four is an evolution of the engine that saw duty in the TR2, and where that car pumped out 90hp, this one jumps into double figures with 100hp. Top speeds between the two models were neck-and-neck, but the TR3 shaved more than a second off the 0-60mph time. Bolted to the back of this little four is a 4-speed “crash” box with overdrive. The owner drives the TR3 daily, and he says that it has been completely reliable in the year since the restoration was completed. He says that he has taken it beyond 90mph a few times and feels that it has more to give. When it was released, the TR3A had an official top speed of 102mph, and I can’t see any reason why this one couldn’t achieve that figure today.

The TR3’s interior presents as nicely as the rest of the car, and it has no immediate needs. It appears that it has been treated to new seat covers and fresh carpet. The covers have stretched slightly, which is not uncommon. A few hours in a home workshop could see the buyer giving them a bit of a tweak, and they would look as good as new once again. The dash is spotlessly clean, while the leather-wrapped “banjo” wheel is in as-new condition. The owner states that he sourced any replacement parts from Moss Motors and The Roadster Factory. Both companies are renowned for the quality of their replacement parts, so there shouldn’t be any issues with those components. Everything works as it should, except for the odometer and the fuel gauge. This might be a slight inconvenience, but the owner has devised an ingenious solution to the fuel gauge issue. He uses a yardstick to “dip” the fuel in the tank. It works out that each inch on the stick equals a gallon in the tank, so it isn’t hard to work out what is left there. If the truth is known, this system is probably more accurate than the original gauge, and it adds to the car’s quirkiness.

I admit that I really like this 1958 Triumph TR3, and under different circumstances, it is a classic that I would love to have parked in my workshop. I can’t do that, but my loss could be your gain. This is a classic British sports car that is ready to be driven and enjoyed, and it is a vehicle that would seem to need nothing. Given its overall condition, I also believe that it represents one of the most affordable examples of the TR3A that you are likely to find on the market today. It isn’t uncommon to see nice cars sell for well over $20,000, although $30,000 is not out of the question for the right vehicle. This one is being offered for considerably less than both of those figures, and with Summer on our doorstep, this might be the right time to park this beauty in your driveway.

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Comments

  1. Steve R

    Nice looking car at a reasonable price that someone can drive and enjoy right away. Potential buyers could easily do far worse.

    Steve R

    Like 15
  2. Don P.

    Very nice car. With the Overdrive transmission it would make somebody a great Highway cruiser for Highway 1 along the coast or pretty much anywhere. Cruise at 80 all day at 30+ mpg, not bad.

    The engine, or at least the valve cover with the oil fill in the rear, looks more like the 2138 cc TR3B TCF series. Not a surprise though, a lot of these wet sleeve cars had engine swaps. Once upon a time it was cheaper just to hit the wrecking yard for a TR3 or TR4 engine than to rebuild it.

    Like 7
    • Brian M Member

      That could also explain the push on carburetor fuel lines which showed up in the 1959 models. My 59, built in October 58, has the “banjo” connectors. In true British form, older parts were consumed in the building of the next year until the supply was exhausted. I can’t see in the photos, but 58 was the last year for the mountings for “Brooklands” racing windscreens. Mine doesn’t have them, making it a 59 model with some leftover 58 bits used. Pretty car, reasonably priced, but I don’t need another.

      Like 1
  3. Gerard Frederick

    A true beauty. I wonder why the seller, an obviously meticulous lover of british iron would want to sell it.

    Like 2
    • Armstrongpsyd Armstrongpsyd Member

      I can answer that, and I can’t. It’s hurting me to sell it, but my means don’t justify owning a collector car. It shares daily driving duties with my 86 Toyota pickup, and I can’t sell my truck. So I guess the answer is, I don’t want to sell it, but practical concerns are out weighing emotional ones. My loss is hopefully someone else’s gain. Thanks for all of your comments. I’ve always wondered how my car would stand up to the discerning eyes of the BF members.

      Like 19
      • 370zpp

        How many of us have found ourselves in that same dilemma?
        That is – when our means no longer justify owning a collector car.

        It was back in the 90s, after considerable effort to acquire my long departed grandfather’s last car – a 1954 New Yorker Deluxe, Hemi, and after semi restoring it, I reluctantly parted ways, watching it leave my yard on a flatbed. Because unfortunately, it was the right thing to do.

        Like 6
  4. Terry

    Absolutely beautiful. I love the color and the painted wires. GLWS.

    Like 3
  5. John Hannam

    Is this car still for sale. John

  6. kenn

    Thanks for your honesty and humbleness. I know the feeling. I had to sell a beautiful one-of-a-kind offshore performance boat for the same reason. It hurts.

    Like 3
  7. Christopher Gentry

    Dad had a 58 TR 3A back in the mid 80s , not as gorgeous as this , but solid and ran like a scalded dog. Taught me to drive a stick in it. Then sold it for the down payment on a house. At the time I would’ve rather he kept the TR , but selling it may be part of why I’m still alive. Lord I’d love to have this one

    Like 2
  8. Armstrongpsyd Armstrongpsyd Member

    Yes, it’s still for sale.

  9. Derek

    I like the dark wire wheels; less blingy and more stealthy!

    Is it fitted with air filters?

    • Armstrongpsyd Armstrongpsyd Member

      Yes, it has the original air filters. There are two non-original parts to the engine. It has a TR6 fan and an electric fuel pump bypassing the original mechanical fuel pump which is still in place.

      • Brian M Member

        I used a TR6 fan on mine and eliminated overheating. Those extra blades, with better pitch, work wonders. Still using regular fuel pump, but added a hi-torque starter which was definitely an improvement. Now if I cabn just get my 40 year old TR7 to behave as well as my 62 year old 3A, I’ll be a happy camper. Also have to finish the Herald sport and AH Sprite and get rid of the Jamaican.

  10. Brian Bray

    TR 3s doors that had cut down door tops (you could reach out and touch the ground). The 4 cylinder drivetrain was comparable to the MGs and the early Austin Healeys; all 3 were 100 mph cars, had side curtains and Lucas electrics.
    The TR3 had a slight disadvantage because it is narrower than either the MG or the Healey so it could roll over easier than the other two if entering a turn at excess speed. The good news is that all 3 makes are now collector cars so likely none of them will ever be driven at the edge.

    • Jalopy

      They are driven at the edge all the time in classic races in Europe. In UK nothing is too classic to race it seems.Check out youTube for some events.

      Like 2
  11. rjc Member

    Paint the wheels silver .
    This childish bad boy blacked out wheels thing is getting old.

    Great car. otherwise.

  12. Vudutu

    Nice job.
    Had one, 60 as I recall, I can second that you could reach out and touch the ground, in fact if I leaned out a little I could put my hand flat on the ground.
    First thing I did was put a tr4 sync first gear tranny in it.
    Loved it.

    Like 1
  13. Mike Thomas

    I cut my teeth on British cars and loved the TR3 more than all of them. I want the car but need some time to sort cross border issues due to COVID. Please connect with me so we can make appropriate arrangements.
    Mike Thomas

    • Armstrongpsyd Armstrongpsyd Member

      To connect with seller, scroll up to red lettering “here on Barn Find Classified” in first paragraph of the description and click.

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