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Facelift Gone Wrong: 1961 Triumph TR3A


Whether we are talking about people or cars, a poorly done facelift is never a good thing. Take Michael Jackson or this 1961 Triumph TR3A for an example of how wrong things can go. Thankfully, unlike the work done to MJ, the work done to this TR could be fixed or even undone. And on the upside, instead of looking alien, the restyle gives it some added character. David tipped us off to it and posed the challenge of figuring out what exactly was done to it and what the resulting look could be described as. Find it here on Craigslist in San Luis Obispo, California. Thanks to David for the tip!


Someone invested a considerable amount of time, energy, and money into customizing this car to just leave it in a hanger. Maybe they decided they weren’t happy with their work, so they abandoned the project. We will never be sure, but it certainly makes for an interesting talking piece. The seller didn’t list a price, but did list some of the trades they would accept for it. Even with the redesigned body, we are sure this one is worth saving. So how would you describe the looks of this modified TR?


  1. bob

    looks like ’58 chev. tail lights

    Like 1
  2. john

    With these modifications in place it officially became a parts car. Ugly and poorly done.

    Like 0
  3. rusty

    Looking on my phone here tonight, but by what I can see of it.

    I love the front very much but hate the rear.

    Like 0
  4. 88R107

    Looks like they were going to the Diamler SP250 look….for whatever reason.
    Poor car.

    Like 1
  5. Josh Staff

    I think the front has a Deutsch Bonnet HBR-5esk look. Have a look at this HBR http://www.barnfinds.com/deutsch-bonnet-hbr-5-and-luxe-le-mans/ for comparison.

    Like 0
  6. okiedude

    SP250 was the first thing that came to mind, too.

    Like 1
    • 88R107

      okiedude…what part of the state do you live in? OKC here.

      Like 0
  7. Mark E

    Guy is pretty optomistic for trades! If he could do that, maybe I should try for a 300SL in trade for my Chrysler Conquest! Hm…

    Like 0
  8. Dolphin Member

    Best of luck to him in getting one of his preferred trades. Just bring lots of $$$ along with the custom TR3A and it should work out fine. Better yet, just bring the $$$.

    Like 0
  9. Jim-Bob

    I don’t even know where to start on this one. First off is the unfortunate early 60’s “customization” which will cost thousands of dollars to put right. Next is that the car seems to need a complete restoration which wouldn’t be too bad if not for the customization work that will need to be undone. Also, this thing has no title, just a bill of sale, making it a huge hassle to ever drive or sell should you finish it. Finally, the owner thinks this car is worth far more than it is, as is evidenced by the trades he would consider. Sorry, but a TR-3 is not in the same league as a Porsche 356. If he’s lucky, someone might trade him a 914 or 924.

    Like 0
  10. Dave Barber

    Fugly!!! With a Capital Fug…..

    Like 0
  11. Doug M Member

    Definitely agree with the SP-250 look…. and even that look just barely worked for Daimler -so I think I would leave it in the hanger, too!

    Like 0
  12. Richard

    The answer to a question that no one was asking…

    Like 0
  13. Clay B

    I’ve been told this is one helluva’ good looking car.I have to go on other people’s word as I’ve been blind for over 20 years.I’m going to ask the guys here in the bar one more time for reinforcement.

    Like 0
  14. rancho bella

    I just did sixty miles on a SoCal freeway (freeway?….really?) and my eyes hurt……….now my eyes really hurt ……..dang

    Like 0
  15. Larry

    I don’t even know what to say

    Like 0
  16. That Guy

    Dustbuster Mk. IV.

    It doesn’t look unfinished to me, actually, just neglected. I’d be willing to bet this car was driving around SoCal sometime in the 60’s and 70’s. Maybe someone will remember it from back in the day, and have more information about the car and the builder.

    But this car is proof that fabrication skills and design skills aren’t necessarily one and the same.

    Like 0
  17. delta2593

    Almost as ugly as the Lea Francis Lynx.

    Front is quite fun.
    back is awful.
    would need 2 rear wings, 1 rear apron, 1 boot lid. Certainly wings and boot lid are available in GRP so would not be expensive.
    Scrap the bumpers – or are they mandatory in the US?
    could then be driven without too much embarassment.
    If you couldn’t stand the front, that’s only two Grp wings and a front apron plus some serious reshaping where the panel joints have been filled in.
    If the floors and chassis are good, that’s a viable resto job

    Like 0
  18. rustylink

    The apparently went catfishing with a Daimler SP

    Like 0
  19. jim s

    could this be part of a FiberFab kit?

    Like 0
  20. cllayb

    The front looks like someone fell asleep and dreamed of a Torino Talledega

    Like 0
  21. Catfish Phil

    That boot lid reminds me of a Harley three wheeler – like one could sell ice cream out of the trunk. The poor car was modified right around the time that LSD came into vogue.

    Like 0
  22. Jamie Wallhauser

    Unless this car is the result of one of George Barris’ lost weekends I don’t know if I’d part with any of his suggestions for trade, especially the cash suggestion.

    Like 0
  23. Rex

    Love the comments!!! I’m the one found this in the hangar. I’ll post some pictures for you guys as the it’s being peeled back.

    Like 0

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