Owned Since the ’70s: 1956 Triumph TR3

The seller of this 1956 Triumph TR3 mentions he’s owned the car since the 70s, but doesn’t elaborate as to whether he’s driven it much in recent years. The need for some bodywork is noted and that several spares will be included, but the rest of the details will likely have to be sussed out with a phone call. Clean TR3s always command a following, and if this one isn’t rusty underneath, it looks like a decent project. Find it here on eBay with a $22,500 Buy-It-Now.

I’m not an expert on TR3 prices, but the ask seems a touch high to me. Granted, this is an earlier model, with the different grill and other subtle design cues that may attract some additional attention from Triumph enthusiasts looking for one from the first batch of U.S. cars. Just under 14,000 pre-facelift models were sold, so the number of surviving examples could have dwindled since this car was parked.

For however long it was in storage, the Triumph was kept in nice shape. The interior looks totally usable as-is, with no major signs of damage or standing water (not the top isn’t shown in any of the pictures.) The seats don’t show any signs of tears or rips, and the dash doesn’t appear to be cracked. Original switch gear and steering wheel both look good, along with the dash, carpets, and gear shift boot.

The seller doesn’t elaborate on some of his comments, such as mentioning it comes with a spare engine. Does that mean the installed engine is junk? Hard to say, but it looks reasonably tidy underneath. The seller also mentions that the body needs some work, and a paint job – but provided that body work doesn’t entail rust repair, plenty of spares are available to repair spots of damage or surface rust.

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Comments

  1. bobhess Member

    Except for battery acid and brake fluid eating away at it it could be a nice car. Too much money for the opportunity for too much work. For that asking price you’d think they would have cleaned up the car a bit, especially the corrosion in the engine compartment.

    8
  2. Howard A.

    While Triumphs are my least favorite British cars, one can’t deny, this is a nice “elbow scraper”. What, no Weber? Fine by me. Interest is fading fast for these. BF’s does have a large audience, and I use the comments as kind of an “interest-o-meter”, and lately, these cars get a smattering of comments, but nobody, except for a dwindling following, wants them, especially at this price. 6 watchers and no bids pretty much tells the story. The poor TR3 has no place on todays roads, and that’s a shame. For a while, Americans found out the fun the Europeans had with these cars, now people just have different interests in cars.

    4
    • John

      This will always be fun to drive, on anybody’s roads, Try it before you diss it-

      7
      • Howard A.

        I’m not dissing the car, it’s today’s roads, at least where I live. These are happy at 50, 55, but 60 and up it gets a bit tiring. Going that speed, in 5 minutes, you’ll have some Dually Ram pickup on your tail, babbling on their phone and never passes, it’s just no fun. It’s why I decided agin any sports car, especially one without O/D, because not everybody is out for a leisurely ride in their vintage sports car. Plus, these need constant attention, and most people just don’t do that now.

        3
    • Richard

      Interesting take. I’m the generation that thought these were the coolest and I still do. What is fair value for a car like this? It would be nice to see underneath and to have some mention of the top situation.

      2
  3. Brakeservo

    The purity of design is the major attraction of these early TR3s. The tractor based four banger has plenty of grunt. But the loosey goosey steering, drum brakes and weak transmission won’t let you forget it’s an old British sports car. I love ’em!

  4. Brian M

    The dash covering has been replaced, badly I might add, as it should be taught, with no wrinkles. Seats look correct for the year but carburetors are a later iteration as the originals should have banjo fittings on the float bowls. This may indicate that the “spare” engine is the original and this is a replacement. “Numbers matching” doesn’t mean as much on these as it does on high five and six-figure muscle cars. Top frame is there and side curtain brackets appear to be correct, but no mention of the existence of either. Top, relatively cheap; side curtains, NOT. Price at least $7k too high, if it is a runner and driver. If not running, way too high.
    As far as not belonging on today’s roads, I would disagree. I run away from MGBs in mine and keep up with AH 3000s. Without overdrive, I can run at highway speeds all day (until my butt gives out!) Point and hope steering is attention-getting but keeps you alert.
    Have had mine for 46 years and the fun factor is still high even with a 75 y/o body behind the wheel.

    10
    • Richard

      Interesting take. I’m the generation that thought these were the coolest and I still do. What is fair value for a car like this? It would be nice to see underneath and to have some mention of the top situation.

      1
  5. Del

    Cute car.

    Not 23 grand cute though , not even for half that

    4
  6. Brakeservo

    I had a very early 1956 TR3, was the New York & LA Auto Show car. Great driving car – the tractor based four-cylinder had plenty of torque and the center of gravity was so low, one feared no corner! But the drum brakes and loosey-goosey steering were all to typical of early British sports cars but no doubt, these were the best looking of the bunch, the exterior was not ruined by door or trunk handles and that “egg crate” grille was a bit “Ferrari-esque.” Asking price for this is clearly in la-la land of dreams though.

    3
    • Brian M

      To be correct, the engine was born in the Standard Vanguard and was adapted for use in the Ferguson tractor. Car first, tractor second, TR series of sports car third. Lots of torque, I can coast down to 10 mph in fourth gear, push the foot feed and accelerate from there. When my original tranny gobbled a tooth from first, had to use second for starting. No problem. Just before my last clutch replacement, I had to be careful accelerating in higher gears as the torque would actually slip the clutch while in motion.
      As far as the comment on panel alignment, be mindful that these cars were only slightly removed from hand built vehicles. The stampings, especially later in die usage, were approximations of perfection, hence the oval mounting holes. Boris and Nigel, the panel beaters, after a two pint lunch, would whack them into place with mallets and then tighten the fasteners. “Oy, mate, good enough, eh?” It’s especially fun to take body parts from a car manufactured in 1958 and try to fit them to one made in, say, 1960. They look the same but with the loose tolerances of the day, be prepared for some “massaging”.

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      • Britcarguy

        Brian M: Thank you for clearing the tractor engine myth yet again. Mr. Ferguson was impressed with the TR engine’s torque and selected the engine for his tractors.

        1
  7. waynard

    At least 10K too high for this. Suspicious body panel alignments, particularly on the left rear fender at bottom, and the drivers door, boot, etc. Accident? Very poor prep and repaint. Engine compartment very shabby. Dash reupholstery poor. I DO love the scotch tape on the left rear fender though: That’s ART! Make offer at $9500.00. Too much work to do; you’ll be underwater in no time.

    4
  8. Keruth

    small mouth, OD, check.
    needs paint, firewall repairs, 3A front disks, under frame pict’s, dash, etc.!
    May sell at 12k, fully restored ones can be had @25k
    I’ll watch just to see if he re-lists.
    (had a well rotted 3A, what a blast to drive and simple to work on after getting past the “grounds” LOL!)

    2

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