Rattle Can Refugee? 1959 Triumph TR3A

Coming from long-term family ownership and parked in the bicentennial year of 1976, this 1959 Triumph TR3 looks like a spotted something or other. The seller tells us that this example is a solid and rust-free California car even if it does appear as if someone has been beating on it with the ugly stick. Regardless, I’m up for a closer look at this iconic example of postwar British motoring. It’s located in Pebble Beach, California, and is available, here on eBay for a BIN price of $9,500. There is a make-an-offer option too.

Technically a TR3A, this two-seater is one of almost 75K TR3s sold between 1955 and 1962. And being a TR3A means that it is one of approximately 58K 3As, the best seller of the TR3 series. So, what do you think, is it aqua over black or black over aqua? I’m bettin’ on the latter – as in primer. The body does appear to be sound and straight, rust being the bane of this vintage Triumph (and many others as well). That said, there is a smattering of small dents and surface rust here and there. The top would seem to have lost its fabric, though the folding frame looks OK, and the underside images present an encouraging picture – it looks solid. Here’s an included video that will give you a closer look-see. This car scores points for its front bumper’s strong chrome and relatively straight grille.

The engine is likely a 105 HP, 2138 CC, in-line, four-cylinder unit and it certainly looks complete, and original, but it’s a safe bet that it hasn’t run since that big ’76 national festival. The seller makes no statement regarding its operational capability or whether it will even turn over – the exclusion of any details is a cause for concern A four-speed manual transmission was the only gearbox utilized and that’s what appears to be under this specimen.

The interior is about what I expected. The floors show surface rust but seem completely serviceable. The seating upholstery is still intact, mostly, though the driver’s seat has seat back “buttons” while the passenger seat is devoid of that detail. The instrument panel presents itself as complete with no vacancies and clear gauges. Another open item is the potential existence of side curtains.

A solid project base? I’d say so, as stated earlier, so many TR3s that are reviewed here have succumbed to a literal rust-induced wasting away – that’s not the case here. I would, however, like to know a bit more about potential running prowess. As for the ask, I’m on the fence with that, what do you think, priced right, or not quite?


  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    So……that’s one of the “Pebble Beach”
    cars I’ve heard of.

    Like 6
    • Hank R


    • DonP.

      As in they took it down to a beach and threw pebbles at it until their arms got tired?

      Seriously; any TR3 that has all the key body parts in decent to reparable condition is a good candidate for restoration to a fun “driver” status. The wet sleeve engine can be rebuilt with new sleeves and pistons any number of times (I just finished my 3rd go around with 87mm sleeves)

      Easy to get parts and work on, for even a novice. New Floors from Amazon or E Bay! When you’re done you have a fun roadster to play with and that is guaranteed to start conversations at every full up.

      Plus, if you aren’t scared of huge SUVs and the “Whoooosh!!” of passing Semis,. it will keep up with Interstate Traffic

      Like 3
  2. Blackcat

    From the photos, anyone looking to restore a TR3 would do well to grab this car. It appears to be devoid of the corrosion so often seen on such projects. This thing could be successfully made beautiful without separating the body from frame, I think. A great candidate to try dry-ice removal of the light scale in footwells, engine bay and underside, refresh the mechanicals, sort paint and trim, and maybe not wind up too far upside down? Life in Merced (CA Central Valley) was kind to this survivor.

    Like 2
  3. Haig L Haleblian

    What is a nice drivers quality with wire wheels worth. There’s one for sale locally for $18k

  4. DA

    It is interesting that the seller indicates NO RUST, when it is obvious in several pictures there IS RUST. If there is rust where it can be seen, it is a sure bet there is more where rust can’t be seen.

    Like 4
  5. Paul Hess

    I love these cars, probably a lot for the memories.
    I had two in High School, one wrapped around a telephone pole and you know what they say about falling off a bike.
    I miss the 70’s and am so grateful to have had an opportunity to visit that decade.

    Like 3
  6. Lawrence Smith

    not worth 9k,may be 3=5k

    Like 1
  7. Rico

    I’ve always wanted a TR3. This one looks pretty nice-considering. Too bad this wasn’t for sale about 30 years ago before my personal body succumbed to too much abuse.
    Getting rear ended 11 times in 13 years, from January, 1981 til September, 1994.
    My 5th back surgery is scheduled for January 30th, so I’ll have to pass on this little jewel.

    Like 1
  8. George Birth

    Whether or not to pay the asking price depends on two things.
    One, is the motor froze up or does it turn over with a good battery, or by hand. And two, how bad someone wants to tackle this one.

  9. Ian Parker

    Hi Fellas, Id Luvv 2 own Her, with some TLC, n Under hood, n Underbody Treatment to curb the Rust Progressin She’d be a Hoot! Rebuild All Mechanicals, re-doo the Dashboards Gauges, Re Upholster the Seats, Upgrade’t Brakes, n New Radial Tyres, Wo. Add a Webber, with Decent soundin SS Exhaust, n Wow with that Coventry Climax Engine, Balanced, n Re-Built, She’d be a reyt Good Go-er, tut tut!! Buff up The Patina, n Clear Coat Her, n wotta Show Stopper, He He! I’d Buy Her at the Drop Of’t Hat, but Her Life in Kanadher Eh wouldn’t be a Extended Healthy Life 4 Her, so guess Ill have 2 pass on thisunn. Ian.

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