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Rust on Rust: 1960 Triumph TR3A

There are several TR3s currently listed for sale for three or four thousand dollars. This one at least shows the true extent of the rust, especially underneath. This one listed on eBay is described as “a fairly straight, original, and complete car” Except for the rust and the bits that have rusted away, it just might be complete. Wisconsin winters were not kind to this car. I had a 1957 TR3 in this same color in the 1960s. It’s hard to imagine what time and salt have done to this sad Triumph. Is there enough left to justify the $3,950 BIN? There is a better frame included in the auction. It’s for sale at a dealer in Santa Ana, California.

Most of the interior and instrument pieces are there. The showroom floor isn’t quite visible through the floor of the car, just a little daylight, but there’s likely not much metal left in those footwells supporting the rust.

The engine turns and things look complete under the hood. Hopefully, some of the parts are usable.

This view really makes one appreciate the California climate. On the positive side, somehow there’s enough left of the frame to hold the car up.

Here’s the spare frame. Hopefully, most of it would come back after a trip to the media blaster.

From this angle you can almost imagine this TR3 returned to its former glory. Parts are plentiful and inexpensive, but is this project a reasonable place to start a restoration? Would one be better off spending a bit more money and buying a TR3 in much better condition? I expect to see lots of exclamation points used with variations of the word “junk” in the comments, but it will be interesting to see what those knowledgable of the breed will have to say. Is there any hope for this rusty bucket?


  1. Howard A Member

    Ok, ( 2 BF tabs for some reason) I don’t think this is junk at all. TR3’s are pretty scarce. Complete, extra frame, I never cared for them, but a great find.

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  2. Bruce Best

    That frame rust is as bad as I have ever seen. Major work required by a proper welder and at best the solution is the spare frame if that is any good

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  3. Dpeter1946

    Going to take more than a bit of time … if somebody has the patience. The BIN price is out of whack though, unless hes including bunch of spares with an OD tranny. Pretty much the entire body is bolted on, fenders, body tub; rockers and floors are even available from Amazon and relatively easy to replace.

    So time, a dozen or so gallons of PB Blaster and a good torch could put it back on the road.

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  4. Bruce Best

    That frame rust is as bad as I have ever seen. Major work required by a proper welder and at best the solution is the spare frame if that is any good and it looks from the photo that it needs help as well. These are really fun cars to drive and they are getting very rare today. This is work restoring but it will be a job to finish.

    The best thing is that all the panels that are rusted are easy to replace or can be purchased as replacement panels for a reasonable cost.

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  5. Adam T45 Staff

    When I looked at the photos and saw how badly the frame was rusted, I couldn’t help but be impressed that the seller actually found somewhere strong enough to jack the car up!

    Seriously though, the TR3 is becoming a rare car. This one is going to need a lot of work (and cost some money along the way). It is not one that someone will restore and flip. It would be a labor of love. As such, I think that it would be worth taking on.

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  6. Wilhelm Brauer

    I’ve been driving a TR3 for 25 years now. Absolutely fantastic cars. I paid $300 for mine because it came with $300 in new parts in boxes. I upgraded the cooling system and installed an OD trans the the car goes great. You can sink a lot of money into these cars in short order. I would try to find a rust-free-er car and walk away from this one though… This one probably lived close to the SoCal beach.

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  7. tom

    had one of these. love brit cars mg’s jensen, and tr’s, but dude (socal reference) what are you thinking????? junk isn’t the word that comes to mind.

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  8. James

    I have a 59 Tr3 in this same color. I love the car. It has Been in family since 1969 when my father traded a small cement mixer for the car. It got parked after a chipped gear in rear end. It sit for years and then decide to hire someone to restore. I ended up having to rescue the car from the restorer who went bankrupt. Moved it to a new guy and he has had it for several years now. I don’t really have much leverage with the guy but we are 90 percent finished. I wonder in general if very many non restorers get caught in my situation. I am not whining just wondering.

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    • Wilhelm Brewer

      He James – They are simple to work on. Get it back from the restorer and finish it yourself before summer!

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    • Greg Pierson

      I have a red 1959 tr3A. It sat at a restorers for 11 years! Finally got it back. Still upgrading some of the poorest parts of the car: electric fan, electronic ignition, water pump and modern fan belt with new pulleys. Fun car to drive. Like a motorcycle on four wheels. Bought my car for $700 and it is pretty much rust free! This one is for someone who loves to weld!!!

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  9. troy

    Labour of Love, this one started off in a lot worse condition, but it can be done with a little dedication and a Judson Supercharger for motivation!

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  10. Rolf Poncho 455

    Little old rusty no way not for me

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  11. Ben T. Spanner

    Way back when I worked in a foreign car repair shop, someone had seen a TR3 for $50 in the Sunday paper. Early Monday it showed up at the front door. Not quite as rusty as this one, but it did have a leaky grease drum as a gas tank.

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  12. Tim Bromley

    The TR3 was my very first car, my Dad bought it for me cause he didn’t want me driving the family cars. Paid 300 or 400 for it. Great little fun car but this one is for a real dedicated DIY enthusiast – not for someone looking to buy one cheap and have it restored by someone. It is surely not worth the asking price. These cars completely restored are not worth over 30k! You are looking at a car that will take either one of two things: 1. A whole lot of time and money and hard work, oh and you better have a spare car for parts and a paint booth to make this one run again. Question you have to ask yourself, especially after reading the posts from guys that are still waiting for their cars to come back from a restorer for 11 years – are you kidding? WOW – but point I’m trying to make is rather than put yourself through countless hours of welding and sourcing parts and interiors, and paint, etc., why not buy one that someone else has invested his time and money in to make it really nice. And drive off into the sunset, still needing a lot of tools cause British cars are not called a tinkerers car for nothing. Better be good at messing with cars folks cause there is no such thing as a British car that runs for years needing nothing but oil changes! I know – been there done that and swore off British cars a long time ago because of the tinkering thing. But others love em enough to work on them and they are simple. But I surely wouldn’t be driving one as a daily depending on it for transportation UNLESS you work at home….: -)

    Like 1

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