Texas Garage Find: 1961 Triumph TR3

This 1961 Triumph TR3 is fresh out of long-term, single-family ownership in Texas. It’s been parked in a West Texas barn since 1992 after a bad starter left it parked, and hasn’t been run since. The seller has made no attempt to start the Triumph, instead opting for the now-fashionable trend of giving the next owner the privilege of picking the car up in as-found condition. The TR3 really does look spectacular, and we don’t see this color combo all that often. Find it here on eBay with a Buy-It-Now of $12,800.

The seller mentions that this price is intended to drive a quick sale, and I can’t say I disagree. While it is likely top of the market, clean, survivor-grade TR3s don’t exactly grow on trees, and this one impresses with its impressively straight body and very dry chassis. Sure, there’s surface rust in places, but these cars can rust out if you look at them the wrong way – finding one with no obvious rot-through is a treat, not to mention the fact that it remains incredibly complete, from the exterior trim to the interior.

The cabin really is phenomenal. I had a hard time picking out which picture showed it off the most, as seemingly every angle looked good. The seats show very little wear front and rear, and the green-painted dash looks like it’s never been left out in the sun. The soft top is tattered, but given how straight it still looks from the outside, I’m guessing the top’s structure is still intact. The carpets and door panels similarly show no major signs of damage, although it appears an aftermarket radio was installed at some point.

Now, I get that many dealers – not just this one – are flipping barn find cars with no investment in the vehicle themselves under the guise of letting the next owner have the job of rebooting it. In this instance, however, I can’t help but feel this would be a way more compelling buy if the seller had taken an hour to install a new starter, change the fluids, and see if it fire up. It’d make for a way more impressive listing, in my opinion. Regardless, this TR3 is an attractive survivor listed at a fair price that leaves some room for improvements by the next owner.


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  1. SusanOliver

    Now this I like!

    Like 4
  2. PDXBryan

    Very cool but I’m pretty sure that is not an original color. Not that I’m an originality nazi but IMHO they do look best in single stage pastel colors. But ya know what, if I could get a nice runner like this, I’d drive it with pride just the way it sits!

    Like 4
  3. Bradshaw from Primer

    bad starter….you can see the opening in the front grille for the crank starter!!!
    Many English cars had an emergency hand crank for starting the engine due to the notorious electric starters (which came with an extended shaft sticking out the back of the motor with a wrench that fit the shaft so you could unlock the locked bendix!!!)

    Like 2
    • Gerard Frederick

      I drove mine for years using the hand crank starter. The soft spot of these cars were their Lucas electrics. Forget the top. Putting it up was a chore and you got as wet with it up, as without it. The side curtains leaked terribly. This car was a gas to drive, it was sheer fun and I wish Iwould still have mine.

  4. ken tillyUK Member

    TR3a actually.

    Like 1
  5. ClassicCarFan

    I agree with the author…. as a buyer (call me a cynic) but I’d have to assume there’s a possibility of some serious engine issue…the seller knows about this and opts to sell the car as a non-runner…? maybe not… but how hard is it to swap out a working starter motor, check fluids and carefully see if you can fire it up? if it is all legitimate and honest, the seller is being foolish.. having a motor that at least starts and runs would boost the saleability considerably.

    it’s a bit like all those Craigslist ads you see with something like “engine just needs fuel pump to run”. Really? if that were true, why isn’t the seller buying a new fuel pump ( how much is that?> like $30 for an external one, maybe $80-100 for the in-tank pump on newer models) and selling it as a running car? Whenever I see stuff like that, I think B-S. you have to assume that the engine is non-operative with some serious problem, and the seller is being less than honest….. I know, that may not always be the case…but a pretty safe bet.

    Still, with the general condition of this car it is probably one worth going after. The engines are dead simple in these cars and even if you factored in some sort of strip and build for the engine, this could be a good car.

  6. ken tilly UK Member

    Unless it’s been hammered to h£ll and back then I would think that the engine is still o.k. I had a friend that used to race the dickens out of his back in the sixties and as far as I can remember he never had a problem with it.

  7. Bellingham Fred

    Starter? Starter?, we don’t need no stinking starter, it has a manual transmission. Put it in 2nd, push it up to speed and pop the clutch. As a teenager I or my friends would occasionally have starter or more often battery issues. The solution? Park on a hill, or bring along enough friends to push.

    Like 4
  8. Paul

    Just behind the front plate you can just see where the crank went

    • Britcarguy

      Crank start will only work if the radiator has the factory-designed hole going through it. Looks like they didn’t put the top bows fully up. Likely afraid to tear the old top material as it is a tight fit.

      Like 1
  9. Richard Martin

    When you consider that it is being sold by a dealer of sorts – apparently with access to all manner of equipment including a hoist (that’s what we call them in Australia), the broken starter story seems total rubbish.
    As for the color, it definitely isn’t original. No British sports cars were ever available in metallic paint. They were sold in British Racing Green but that’s nothing like this color. Still, it does look okay.

    • ken tilly UK Member

      Sorry Richard but the MG TF was sold brand new with a metallic paint finish in a light green. Jaguar XK 120’s also I believe.

  10. Mark

    that metallic green paint looks awful on this vehicle!

    Like 1

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