Returning To Earth: 1960 Triumph TR3 Project

Andrew TannerBy Andrew Tanner

Little cars with removable tops have long been popular here in the United States and ironically most of the vehicles that fit the bill are imported from other countries. Despite having questionable track records of reliability, Triumphs have frequently been the go-to choice for folks looking to get into a small, sporty convertible. The ad states “Fresh out of the barn TR3. Rough all over but mostly there. Good title and wire wheels.” There are no pictures included of the floor, but the lack of a top worries me, even if it was in a barn. Find it here on craigslist in Raleigh, NC with an asking price of $1,500. 

Although little paint remains, the body on this Triumph could definitely be worse. It looks like this car may be salvageable at the hands of the right person. Although these cars are beautiful restored, this would definitely make a cool unconventional rat-rod if it is indeed too far gone to restore. With the wire wheels still in place, and a little bit of paint showing, it is not hard to imagine how this TR3 looked during its heyday. There is no mention of drivetrain, though based on the way the car sits I would imagine there is an engine in there. There appears to be very little interior, though perhaps there are more parts included than there are visible in the photos?

Here’s a photo of a similar car that is in excellent condition just so you can visualize what it could look like. I do not know if it is restored or not, but it appears largely original regardless. The potential a project like this has is nearly endless, as parts are relatively easy to come by and frankly its small enough that there aren’t that many parts! A skilled craftsman could have something like the car pictured above with some patience and dedication. This is one of those cars that I would want more information on, such as drivetrain, missing parts, etc. before I even considered going to look at it. Would you restore it, use it for parts, or let it slowly return to the earth?

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  1. glen

    It looks like it burnt, but the tires survived.

  2. jw454

    I like the trailer hitch. I wonder what that was used for?

    • Mike F.

      Maybe it’s a tow hitch – so you can move the car around?

  3. Chris Kennedy

    Dock anchor more like it!

  4. Mark

    Labor of love only to bring this one back. Cost to restore would exceed the purchase price of one currently in great shape.

  5. Sam

    Yikes, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, it’s hard to conquer a thing called rust.

    My neighbor has a black 59 TR3 with red leather and wires that is a nice driver.

  6. Vegaman_Dan

    It is in sad sad shape, but it is only metal snd when you approach the body in smaller stages, it is possible to fix it all. Do you have the time, space, and dedication to do it? I did on my Spitfire, and only funds are stopping it from paint. The body work, all the cutting, welding, and rebuilding was greatly rewarding and therapeutic. I quite enjoyed it.

    The entry price is a bit steep, but if it has an engine and trans, maybe?

  7. Keith

    Hey if this was a Porsche it would be worth 60k!

  8. Howard A Member

    Despite the lousy ad ( I know, it’s CL) at least it’s a plausible price ( unlike a certain ’63 Ford) TR3’s aren’t exactly rare, but a quick check on Hemmings, shows, very few under $20g’s and some to $30. This a parts car, and well worth a grand, in parts, but to rebuild this car, like the Ford, is pure silliness. Buy a nice one already done, and go top down cruisin’ that very day.

  9. Big Mike

    bury it and speed up the returning to earth part!!!!!!

  10. r.hernandez

    WOW…what did they do pull it out of a pond!?…and now it’s up for sale.
    Gonna need a dump truck full of cash to get this car to ride the road again.

  11. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Wow, I’m surprised at you folks. Sure, if you pay someone to restore it you’ll be underwater in a heartbeat–but a lot of folks don’t have the money to buy one already finished.

    The work on this car is straightforward, and apart from wet liner engine assembly can be easily learned and handled with the use of a shop manual and perhaps a helpful club member or two. You can even learn to paint as well — that’s how I painted my first car.

    I truly believe you could have a nice driver for well under $10k total. And speaking as someone who’s done that with multiple TRs, it’s a wonderful way to teach yourself how to work on an automobile and acquire tools along the way. Some of them will certainly be HF type tools, but most of the time that’s enough for the home enthusiast.

    Ok, stepping back off the soapbox now.

  12. Derek

    I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks. Good starting point for a cheap hoot; they’ll shift a bit with a wee bit of work, too.

  13. Dpeter1946

    FWIW, most of the major body panels are bolt on and available on E-Bay or from the typical sources. New floors are only $175 for both sides and are pretty easy to weld in. You can buy all stainless fastener kits from Macy’s Garage for all the fenders, nose etc. So patience, space and commitment are all that’s required. But $1,500 for a basket case? Pretty steep IMNSHO.

  14. tje

    Looks a little bit overdone.

  15. Brian M

    OMG! I have a 60 parts car that I paid $600 for that looks better than this. We lovingly refer to it as Arby (for R. B.; rust bucket) No sheet metal part un-perforated. Got it for spare mechanicals such as steering box, third member, trans. Engine is stuck as previous owner started a tune up 25 years ago and never finished it (left the spark plugs on the inner wing, in Florida, no less) DOH! If the nose (not pictured) is in as good condition as the boot lid and bonnet (made of unobtainium) this might fetch a grand from a desperate enough project owner. With the rust showing, the frame is highly suspect. My finished one looks like the white one, without luggage rack, which Arby does have, but in need of re-chroming. Arby has the identical trailer hitch, probably to tow a tiny tag-along folding camping trailer.

  16. JRP

    Push it closer to the fence and plant flowers in it!

  17. Mike S.

    Time, space, & money, if you don’t have all three don’t start. Setting aside self satisfaction and doing a restoration being therapeutic, most people would be better off buying a finished TR3. You will have instant fun and if you ever decide to sell it you won’t lose a nickel.


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