Super-Low-Miles? 1958 Triumph TR3

Vintage British tin has emerged as collectible classics that don’t have as much of a ridiculously high cost of entry, as compared to many other genres. This particular example is up for sale right now, here on craigslist in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and we have to thank reader MattR for letting us know about it! Let’s look closer!

Standard-Triumph made just over 71,000 TR3s and TR3As between 1955 and 1962. Initially, they were built as open-top two-seaters, but a rear seat, soft top, and steel hard top were available. An overhead-valve inline-four of 1,991 cc powered them, fed by two carburetors, and transferred its 95 (later, 100) horsepower to the wheels by way of a four-speed manual gearbox, with the option of an overdrive unit. The first two years saw drum brakes, but starting in 1957, front discs were standard, which made Triumph the first British marque to do so in a production car.  Suspension was, as one might expect for the time, A-arms up front and solid axle rear. You can tell the difference between the TR3 (’55-’56) and 3A (’57-’62) by the wider grille on the 3As.

We look now at the example before our eyes, and it looks decent overall. The seller gives us a handful of pictures from which to work, and tells us that it’s complete, with 4300 original miles, and a clean title. They admit that there is rust and that it was last registered in 1978. They say that it includes a factory hard and door tops. There’s no mention of the engine condition, and the lack of  air filters is a bit concerning. Transmission allegedly shifts well, and the frame is apparently very solid.

All in all, it doesn’t look too bad in the pictures. It obviously needs everything,  but with some elbow grease that the current owner has no time for, it might well clean up and give the next owner miles and miles of smiles. That’s my two cents, what do you think? Let us know in the comments!


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    This one is going to have to have an inch by inch restoration. Doesn’t appear that anything works or works right on it and I’d bet my can of Rustoleum rusty metal primer that there isn’t much that doesn’t have rust on it under that skin. Maybe $2,000 tops.

    Like 7
  2. Steve R

    Another car with a picture of the speedometer as “proof” of extremely low mileage. Never mind the car is so rusty the seller admits he was planning a body swap.

    Steve R

    Like 4
  3. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    I never have been a fan of these foreign sports cars, but the only one that ever did have any appeal to me was the triumph. I did have a 1960 Triumph 650 Motorcycle bored to 750 with 19″ extended forks and lots of chrome. Problem was it was rigid frame and vibrated so much parts fell off at regular intervals.
    God bless America

    Like 5
    • Solosolo UK ken tilly UK Member

      Johnmloghry. It wasn’t a 1960 Triumph frame that you were riding then. It must have come from an earlier model as my friend already had a 1951 rear end sprung hub Triumph and my 1956 Tiger 110 had telescopics front and rear.

      Like 4
  4. DonP

    On the plus side, most of the TR body components are bolted on. So, if it has a solid frame, pulling the fenders, front apron, etc. is pretty straightforward, just time consuming. You can order new floors from the usual suspects, The Roadster Factory makes the best IMHO, perfect fit with the cage nuts already spot welded in place. Even Amazon or E Bay will sell you new TR3 floor panels.

    Assume you’ll replace the floors, inner and outer sills and check the spare tire compartment. The trunk has small rubber drain tubes, that usually get knocked off cramming stuff in the trunk (boot for you purists) then the rain drains right into the spare compartment and rusts it out.

    The other necessary parts are pretty easy to find too. Moss Motors, Victoria British, TRF, etc. in the US. For the weird parts, Revington, Rimmer Bros. and others in the UK. If one doesn’t have it, the others will.

    I’ve had mine since 1967, when I bought it out of a junkyard for $175. Something about road tripping with these cut down doors is still just so damned cool. At least that’s what my 13 year old Grand daughter and 17 year old Grand son think.

    Like 13
  5. Little_Cars

    Any owner selling a TR-3 on Craigslist is not reaching serious buyers. And, the claim of 4,379 original miles/Last registered in 1978 better be backed up with loads of documentation. There should be no structural rust on a car with less than 5000 miles! You only get that from poor storage or driving it on a regular basis. Which is it?

    Like 5
  6. Terry J

    I remember back in the day of finding good old American iron that had sat for years and with a fresh battery and gas would fire up and be ready for more. But the TR3 uses the good old Standard engine engineered with “wet sleeve” cylinder liners. That makes them easy to rebuild since you replace the liners instead of boring the block much like a lot of diesel trucks engines. But those liners are sealed at the bottom in the block with soft metal “washers”. Likely as not, you will need to tear the engine down irregardless of mileage. :-) Terry J

    Like 3
    • Keruth

      Had a ’60 3A, totally rotted here in the rust belt.
      Used a tank from a boat ’cause the original could only hold about $3 of gas without marking its spot on my buddy’s dads blacktop driveway.
      But that motor was indestructible, and easy to work on, like a chevy or ford!
      When the battery would die, just park it on a hill and push, popped every time!
      I keep looking for one again, but the spit will have to do till then, lol!

      Like 1
    • Don P.

      I’ve rebuilt my engine three times. Just finished the 3rd go around and used 87 mm cylinders and pistons to up the displacement a hair over 2 liters. Put in a new rear Viton main seal to replace the questionable “slinger” seal so the traditional oil leakage is finally under control now. Used copper “figure 8” seals and Permatex Aviation sealant for the new sleeves.

      Like 2
      • Solosolo UK ken tilly UK Member

        Why have you had to rebuild the engine three times Don P? You must have done a wack of mileage for your lump to need overhauling that many times. I bought my TR 3a from an Indian guy and it already had 93,000 miles on the clock, and he said that the speedo had been broken for years before I bought it. I had it repaired, did +- 14,000 miles in it before selling it on, and the motor was still performing well and not using more than the usual amount of oil.

  7. gerardfrederick

    I had a 1959 way back in 1965 in San Fran – heady days of youth. It was great fun to drive and performed flalessly until the starter (Lucas) died and the fly wheel cracked. It had a hand crank provision by which you could start the machine a la the folks back in 1908 or so. The condition of this car is sad, it is a disgrace only possible because of a total lack of love – how can anyone NOT love the very last good british roadsters? The mileage? probably more like 3040000.

    Like 2
  8. Achman

    High mileage is the last thing you need to worry about with that car.

    Like 3
  9. BigDoc Richard Van Dyke Sr


    Like 1
  10. Upchucked

    I have to laugh as the distinction between the 3 and the 3A. I had a 54 TR2 that I used for a daily driver for a dozen years before doing something really stupid, I got married and bought a 4 dr. Ford. Wish I could go back …. I would have kept the 2 and remained a bachelor. I won a $50 bet one Christmas Eve. I had wagered that I would drive my 2 from home to the workplace and back home, with the top down. I prayed that it would be a wet snow … and when Christmas Eve arrived, it was with mid 70’s and bright sunshine. Loved that little car … yeah, should have kept it …..

    Like 3
  11. ron corso

    243,000 miles that thing is well and truly used. Bit naive thinkig it has done less than 5000 miles original.

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