Pickled and Parked: 1959 Triumph TR3

In what can only be described as calendar fodder for barn find discoveries everywhere, this 1959 Triump TR3 is coated in dust and parked next to an equally-dusty stablemate somewhere in north central Iowa. It was parked there in 1964 after a failing clutch sidelined it – and has been there ever since. The engine was pickled prior to long-term storage but it’s a non-runner at the moment. Find it here on eBay with bidding over $5K and no reserve.

These are such pretty cars. We’d love to know the story on the adjacent Triumph, as both cars seem to wear equal coatings of dust. It’s amazing to see the rear window is still hanging on to the weathered soft top, which also isn’t as bad as we’d expect for a car parked as long as this TR3 has been. Although the TR3 would look killer on wire wheels, what’s more important as the seemingly straight, rust-free condition that the photos depict.

Key in the ignition, ready to fire: the more you view the photos of this TR3, the harder it is to believe this was simply parked and forgotten. The dashboard remains in very nice condition, and the interior looks serviceable as-is. Red leather (or vinyl) seats and matching floor coverings all look surprisingly sound, and it’s definitely a cockpit you can live with while the mechanical bits are sorted.

Speaking of, the sellers notes that while the engine was seemingly prepped for long-term storage, he wasn’t able to get it to turn over with the fan. I wouldn’t rule out starting, but he’ll have to perhaps get a bit more ambitious in his efforts. Still, for the money, running or not this TR3 looks sound enough to pick up and perform a motor swap if necessary. Replacement parts are plentiful, and we’d try to arrange for a twofer with the other Triumph in the barn.

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  1. Rube Goldberg Member

    It’s amazing when seen side by side, what different cars the 3’s and 4’s are. That’s a short shifter, and was probably cut down for shorter throw, I did that to many vehicles. Neat car, all there, I bet it would clean up nice, but give me the TR4 anyday.

  2. Nick G

    All about frame condition. These are set up to hand crank, so isn’t too difficult to get a box, long extension and power bar, to turn the crank.

    • Bruce

      Be damn careful with hand cranking as a backfire will easily break your arm if you are not ready for it. Has not happened to me but have seen it happen to others driving both the MGA and TR-3 Types. I can assure you that it really hurts as I was the one that drove one of them to the hospital.

      • h60memo

        I think we are doing this to determine if it is locked or not, not to get it running. I’ll even take out the spark plugs myself.

  3. Brian from Indy

    I’m More interested in the TR4 sitting next to it.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Brian, I think it’s a 4A due to the trim, although the front fender light is missing…trim isn’t thick enough to be a 250 (I think).

      • gary


        There should be a hole in the front fender where the side light goes if it’s a 4A or 250.

        Then again, it could be a replacement fender since the 4 – 250 used the same fenders.

        Then again, there is trim on the front fender so why replace that without replacing the side light.

        It could be a 4 or a 4A but I would put my money on a 4. Is that a long bubble in the hood? I’m not as familiar with the 4s but I think the long bubbles went all the way back to the back edge of the hood. If that’s correct then it’s an early 4.


      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

        Good points, Gary. Maybe they will put it up for sale too and we’ll get to see for sure!

      • Tompdx

        It isn’t a 250, this 4 has chrome bezels on the gauges, whereas 250s had black bezels.

  4. Classic Steel

    Nice designed car that’s fun to drive !!!!

  5. gary

    Nice find.

    I agree that it’s hard to believe that the interior and top are in decent shape after being stored for so long.

    I prefer the disc wheels and hub caps over the wire wheels. Those wheels and hub caps look really sharp when cleaned and shined up.

    • Chinga-Trailer.

      If you’re actually going to drive them as intended – fast, fun and sliding, the steel wheels are so superior to the wires. Had wires on an MG I tried to drive as a proper sports car but I wound up spending every other weekend “tuning” the wheels and adjusting the spokes. Wires “look” good, but that’s all they’re good for – looks!

  6. tommy

    Pickled? but the battery was left in and still connected??

    • Rspcharger Rspcharger Member

      Long term storage fail.

  7. slw71962


  8. The Chucker


  9. Terry J

    Pickled works OK for a lot of cars, but these TRs had a “Wet Sleeve” engine with the steel cylinder liners inserted into the block and requiring seals at the bottom like a diesel engine. Prob. be a good idea to disassemble this one and put it back together with new seals/gaskets/ rubber & cork stuff. Terry J

  10. Hugh Anger

    I am a sucker for TRs and like this car a lot. For me though, it is a TR3B. My first sports car was an early TR2, a long door in fact. Then came the TR3 the first production car to boast front disc brakes I believe. This was followed by the TR3A while the American market had the TR3B and of course this was followed by the TR5, American market TR250, the TR6 and 7. No doubt there are some knowledgeable chaps out there who will correct me if and where I am wrong. This red TR looks good and worthy of restoration. If only I were some 30 years younger.

  11. Dennis Thompson

    It has the rare factory ashtray and the original brown Lucas distributor cap. The cap in particular is extremely hard to find. On the downside it has the ugliest cover I have ever seen over the transmission tunnel. Should be carpet.

  12. Doug

    I have seen a number of these with Ford 289/302 engines- they went like stink, but the understeer was terrible…. The 3.4 Camaro / Firebird V6 makes a nice conversion, as does the aluminum 215 Buick / Rover V8. Look at
    http://www.BritishV8.org for lots of nifty conversions.

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