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Rare, Rusty And Wrecked: 1960 Triumph Italia #55

Built between 1959 and 1962, the Triumph Italia was the brainchild of, Dr. Salvatore Ruffino, Triumph’s Italian importer during that era. Layering Italian hand-built coachwork over a Triumph TR3 chassis (and priced over $1,000 higher than a new TR3) less than 330 of these cars were produced during its short run. Of these, fewer than 50 were reportedly brought to the US, and this twisted hulk is the remains of one of these. Now in the hands of Ragtops & Roadsters of Perkasie, PA (and possibly for sale, although no price or listing has been published yet), this car was originally spotted on the Triumph Italia 2000 Facebook page (Facebook account required), where all of the photos in this post were sourced. Thanks to by Scott M. for the find!

According to the post, the history of how this car ended up on Facebook almost as haphazard as the history of the nameplate itself.  The car was spotted in a field in Minnesota and later purchased by an unnamed buyer along with an odd, customized TR3. The finder/buyer was not familiar with the car, but eventually discovered the  Facebook group using only the “Italia 2000” badge as a clue. It was the group who added the captions to these photos.

Originally hand-built without the benefit of a template, buck or jig, it’s unlikely that body panels from one Italia would fit another even in the factory. On one survivor, the driver’s door is ½ inch longer than the passenger door. But in this particular car’s current condition, that degree of variation might almost be a plus — as any restoration would involve serious expert-level metalworking skills. The damage seen above was reportedly the result of striking a pole at high speed shortly after the car was imported in 1962.  A half-century of outdoor storage added the rest of the decay.

A bit of silver lining remains, this engine has been confirmed to be the original mill fitted to the car when the chassis was shipped to Italy in late 1959. But it’s not in the Italia now, it’s powering the accompanying TR3 (seen below, which itself sports a bizarre aftermarket nose). It’s written that the engine starts and the TR3 has been driven.

Both cars are now reportedly in the hands of Ragtops & Roadsters (R&R), a veteran and respected British resto shop who have several show-quality Italias under their belt. The posting concludes appropriately with “No sugar-coating it, restoring Italia #55 will be an epic project, but we hope someone will accept the challenge of saving another great car.” Those interested are asked to contact R&R via email at Dave@ragtops.com.


  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    If anyone wants to talk Italia, email me. I’ve owned at least one since 1987. :-)

    Like 3
    • Little_Cars Little Cars Member

      At least one? You don’t remember? I would think as rare as they are you could be more specific! jk :) These seem about as rare at the Hudson Italias, of which I’ve seen maybe 6 at the Hudson-Terraplane show in Nashville years ago.

      Like 0
      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

        LC, we purchased the one I have now after a 9 year search back in 1987. My late first wife decided she wanted one too, I said sure, honey, when you find one — she was a better shopper than I was, she had her choice of two within two days! (pre-internet, remember). Eventually sold that one on but kept the original one…still have it. There’s a plan to have an Italia class at Concours Italiano next year; wish I could go and take mine. Oh well…

        Like 4
      • Scott Marquis

        Jaime – We’d love to #317 as part of a Concorso Class. Anything we can do to encourage you ?

        Like 2
  2. Classic Steel

    My Italia is not that great but do I speak a lil German and espano 👀. This vistas of the car roof and windshield frame looks more something found in a banyo …

    This car is a total wreck but a labor of love and sweat 😓 with big big bucks can possibly revive ….

    Like 2
  3. Doyler

    I’ve always wanted one, but now I think they’re just out of reach

    Like 0
  4. Bob

    Note that two of the Italia parking lights have been removed and are now in place on the TR3. These lights are pretty rare themselves. Windshields are available. The Italia owners club knows which parts are common to which other Italian cars, and which are specially made. This car appears to have most of the rare stuff intact. This car is definitely restoreable, but we all know the effort and skills (and labor of love) it would take. This is a very cool find indeed. In safe hands right now as Ragtops and Roadsters have restored several of these and know these cars inside and out.

    Like 2
  5. Dolphin Member

    The fact that Ragtops and Roadsters are selling it instead of restoring it says that they have done the math and it doesn’t compute. It will take dedication, skill and time to bring this one back.

    Like 4
    • Bob

      Dolphin, you are likely correct. Craftsmen with the metal skills to properly fix this are probably few and far between these days.

      Like 4
      • grant

        I’m with Dolphin and Bob. When the shop that specializes in these is passing it along, it’s probably best a parts car.

        Like 2
  6. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    I’d take the custom TR-3 over this. Good to know there is a dedicated group that can tell you what “off the shelf” stuff will help you along the way, after putting the body through an extensive reworking.

    Like 1
  7. Bob

    Of course, it could be that Ragtops & Roadsters just does not have artisans that could handle the fabrication challenges that this represents. I have no idea about this. I think most would agree that this work will require great skill. Those skills are available, but not in all restoration shops. I would very much like to see this car restored and not parted out. I am restoring an Italia myself, so every one of these cars are dear to me.

    Like 1
  8. Wrong way

    I myself plan on getting in touch with these guys first thing in the morning! I am going to buy this if anyway possible! I will have it restored If I can possibly buy this awesome car! If I get a chance to buy it I will post about it!

    Like 3
  9. Mr. Bond

    R&R has a significant labour component added into their economics. Someone working this from a hobby (labour of love) should be able to make a good go of it.

    Like 2
  10. stillrunners

    still cool it’s still around instead of being crushed years ago……

    Like 1
  11. AlbertSpanner

    This will be restored as they are high value cars now and the metalwork is relatively easy to do, mechanics are ordinaryTR3 and most of the difficult to find parts are there, the rest is parts bin Italian cars of the period.
    Im doing one at the moment that was in a worse state.

    Like 6
  12. Bob

    In case you are not familiar with the car, here is one that has been restored. # 253

    Like 2
  13. 88V8

    Fixing it so the windscreen fits without leaks will be a real test of skill.

    Like 1
  14. Bob

    I have replaced many of parts of panels on my car to eliminate rusty areas. It is so interesting to see how the original body is made up of many small pieces, each one shaped just perfectly to fit to the next one and butt welded together. The quality of the steel construction is just unbelievable and truly a work of art in thin metal. And all of that before the invention of TIG welding. Those Italian craftsmen were amazing. My hat is off to anybody that can skillfully do this kind of work. Here is a pic of my amateur efforts on my car.

    Like 2
  15. Elanguy

    Awful shape, but perhaps fixable? But the details are so similar to the one I had, which makes sense, mine was #54. At least mine, though a basket case, was obviously fixable even back when I had it.

    As for Ragtops & Roadsters not tackling it, I doubt they do spec projects, most dealers do not. But they would be the shop I would choose.

    Like 0

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