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Scruffy 1959 Triumph TR3

Scruffy TR3

For the last few days, I have been feeling down. The distraught feeling started right after talking to one of my good buddies, Bruce. We featured his Firebird find the other day and his Father’s huge collection a while back. Anyway, I had my eyes set on a certain small-mouth TR3 that resided in his late Father’s shop. Bruce had told me he would give me a good deal on it, but I dragged my feet and bought the Mustang instead. Well, a buyer came along and the TR3 sold. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for Bruce because he has been trying to liquidate these cars for a while now. But boy, would it have looked good in my garage! Maybe this scruffy 1959 Triumph TR3A could fill the void? Find it here on eBay in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where bidding is currently at $3,800 with no reserve.

Tractor Engine

There’s that trusty tractor engine that all Triumph fans know and love. Well, it wasn’t exactly a tractor engine, but it did have a lot in common with one. Standard produced a similar mill for Ferguson tractors so it did share some similarities. But, whoever said that was a bad thing? It just means that that this engine was built tough with lots of low-down grunt. This one has been taken apart and then haphazardly reassembled at some point so it is missing some of its internals. A full rebuild will be in order, but this engine is simple enough that it shouldn’t be too much trouble.

No Floors!

Things don’t look too bad in here either, until you look down! Just think – if the engine ever breaks down, you can just start pushing Flintstone style! Joking aside, it does look like someone started a restoration here and never finished the job. New front floor pans will need to be welded in place, but the job should not be as hard as other sports cars from the era because TRs ride on a full frame instead of a unibody. We would be more concerned about rust in other areas like the door jams and suspension mounts. The seller claims that the doors fit right and that the frame is solid though.

TR3 Rear

Call me crazy, but I love the look of this particular TR3. It is a little rough around the edges, but that only seems to add to the already tough character of the car. Richard M. Langworth described these as “unsophisticated, wildly over-steering, occasionally airborne, but devastatingly effective.” Need I say more? The rust may be a concern here as some of the metal does look pretty thin, but other then that, this TR3 should provide someone with a challenging, but fun project.


  1. Brian

    If you buy it, please don’t restore it! It seems like every one of these cars I see at shows or (on the rare occasion) going down the road, are restored to near prefection! Nothing wrong with that, but how refreshing it would be to see a good, honest, unrestored Truimph like this one, just given a mechanical refresh to make it safe and dependable, going down the highway or sitting on the show field. I like restored cars, but just like two seater Thunderbirds, you rarely get a chance to see one of these cars that is not rough beyond belief or a concours quality resto – seems to be little in between.

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    • Richard V

      I own one of the above-mentioned ’57 T-Birds. It’s been called “A good 25-foot car”. Pretty much describes it, but the mechanics were all restored so it’s a reliable and (relatively) safe driver.

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  2. Scot in San Jose

    I am with Brian. In my past owned a few TR3s. For me they are the perfect car to look scruffy. A shiny E-type looks lovely and one even unwaxed looks pathetic. A scruffy TR3 looks well used and ready for more. A restored one, well just looks restored. They never will be lovely no matter how shiny.

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  3. rancho bella

    Jesse……you foot dragger. Early Triumphs are sweet and a small mouth to boot?
    What am I going to do with you?
    There is a saying that we use while welding on energized natural gas lines, “he who hesitates is lost”.

    It applies to many topics, such as, someone is going to cut you a good price on something…..and you wait……..hmmm.
    As to the car pictured, this ain’t gonna stay at 3800…………
    “a small mouth”…………..really?……………..

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Thanks for making me feel better Rancho! Haha, yeah sometimes available funds have more to do with it than indecision…

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    • paul

      Huh, are we looking at the same car, small mouth??

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  4. rdc

    Do Not restore it. Make it roadworthy and repair things broken with the the same quality parts that you would as a driver. I had a 58 TR3 once and loved it for whatt it was.

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  5. jim s

    i love the look, but this car not so much. you are going to have to take is all back apart and start over which equals a lot of money/time. i think someone put it together using bad parts because they thought it would bring more money then trying to sell it disassembled. nice find

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  6. Robert J

    Nice patina. I like it.

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  7. Carl W French

    Restoring this should simply be a felony.

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  8. rdc

    Get it into safe running condition with quality parts and maintain it the way an owner would have done back in the 50s.

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  9. julian

    It may be scruffy but its remarkably good underneath. Could do with an overdrive, but a very usable car. If someone imports it to the Uk they’ll be asking £12,000 as it stands.

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  10. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    SOLD for $5,600 with 23 bids!

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  11. Jon Steelman

    truth is, the steel wheels are better than the wires: bypass the spoke alignment every time you hit a curb; and the steel wheels are considerably lighter, keeping your unsprung weight down.

    i had a ’59 in 1969, and my father-in-law bought a junked ’57 for spare parts. my shop teacher named it, “puddle jumper”. though the tr3 required maintenance often – tune-ups, oil changes, balancing the SU carbs – all was easy if you had the right hand tools, time and patience. AND it was so damned much fun to drive.

    Like 0

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