Stored Since The 90’s: 1959 Triumph TR3A

It’s getting more and more difficult to find “driver quality” British sports cars. As time goes on, cars are either restored or junked (or left in barns for us to write about 10 years from now, I hope). This 1959 Triumph TR3A is by no means perfect, but bidding here on eBay hasn’t driven the price to a perfect example level either. I am hoping that someone will take the altered TR6 flags off the rear fenders after purchasing the car (unless they like them)! As I write, bidding has just exceeded $10,000 and has met any reserve. The car is located in Henderson, Nevada.

One of the things that concerns me about this listing is the date on the pictures being over six years ago. The seller states that the car has not been driven since the early 1990s but that it’s been garaged. They also say that the car was running great before their father died, but we’re not told how long ago that was. Obviously, some communication with the seller before bidding is in order. There is some rust present in the sills in the pictures although as a whole the car looks presentable for a driver. The convertible top is somewhat unusual with a single-piece large rear window; the transparency of the window can be improved with plastic polish (I use Novus).

New reproduction grilles are available; however, in the past, I have known some to be of poor quality and fit, even to the point of hurting cooling by not having wide enough open slots. Just be careful. I suppose one could spend a lot of time bending this one back into shape as well; at least that way you’ll be sure it will fit back into the hole! One thing I have learned about TR2/TR3/TR3A/TR3Bs is that panel fit is an extremely variable thing from car to car. For example, if you plan on replacing those sills yourself, expect a lot of frustration in getting them right!

I’ve included this picture of the interior as it shows a more complete view, but this one shows the all-important overdrive switch on the left side of the dashboard. The “O” at the end of the commission number validates that this car was indeed equipped with overdrive from the factory as stated in the ad. The Laycock electric overdrive (A-type on pre-73 TRs) will work on second, third, and fourth gears to effectively give the driver access to seven gears. Realistically, one uses it mostly as an overdrive top gear, but it can be fun to go through all seven gears while accelerating just for the heck of it.

One common rust area for this generation of TR is the battery box; it would be good to see a picture of that area without the white whatever in the way. Overall, this seems to be a good car that could be returned to the road quite quickly (hydraulics, tune-up, fuel system cleanout, perhaps a carb rebuild). I’m planning to do just that with my TR3B-based Triumph Italia 2000 over the next couple of weeks; parts were readily available and nothing is beyond the expertise of even the shadiest shade-tree mechanic. Let us know if you’re the one that decides to return this garage find to the road!


  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    Those flags look great – on a TR6.

    Like 1
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Nice car. Fix a couple body areas and you have a fun driver.

    Like 1
  3. SMS

    Okay, I may have missed it. Jamie you have to do an article on your Triumph Italia 2000.

    Like 4
  4. Michelle Rand Staff

    Car was originally red at some point. Paint is crazing – be careful. You can get a new top for not a ton of money; it’s awfully hard to polish out heavy haze and if the plastic has browned, it’s hopeless. Helpful hint: use Pig Mat under the battery. Not a failsafe but does help protect the battery area.

    Like 3
  5. Bob

    Noted battery tray issues.
    Check the carpet area under it in the one picture. Acid has eaten the Rayon clean off!

  6. britcarguy

    Grille surround looks more like bad body work. TR3 front openings should be formed around a straight grille just as the nose of a Lotus Europa is built to the shape of the bumper.

    Like 1
  7. Solosolo Solosolo Member

    I’m sure that my TR 3a grille was manufactured in aluminium and was quite easy to restore back to acceptable condition. I might be wrong as the old memory isn’t what it used to was.

    • Auric G.

      Are you the Mr. Solo in the film Goldfinger?… The one who who had “a crushing engagement”?…

      Like 1
      • Solosolo Solosolo Member

        I wish!

  8. Auric G.

    Solosolo: I don’t think you would want to be that Mr. Solo. He was killed by Goldfinger’s Korean batman, Oddjob, who then had Mr. Solo crushed INSIDE his car by the car compressor, leading Sean Connery to say that Mr. Solo had had “a pressing engagement”…

    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      Then I am really glad that I’m not that Mr. Solo although I can think of worse ways to go, like jumping out of an aircraft to discover that your parachute won’t open!

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