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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: 1966 Triumph TR4A

You should know before reading this post that my first Triumph of many was a 1966 TR4A like this one, and I’m predispositioned to like them. At first glance, this seems like a very restorable car that could be driven during the process, and that may well be the case. It’s up for auction here on eBay, where bidding is starting at $4,000 and there is no reserve. It’s located down South in Cartersville, Georgia.

The seller tells us the car has sat in the barn unused for the past 11 years. Unfortunately, we don’t know much other than that as the ad has few details, although the 168,230 claimed miles may raise some eyebrows. Actually, when it comes to older British cars, I’d rather have one that’s been on the road a lot than one that has sat for an incredibly long time–but the bad here is that this car would have the worst of both of those worlds.

It’s a shame that the seller didn’t at least push it outside to get some clear pictures. At least here we can see that the seam at the top of the rear fender, a typical rusty spot on bad TR4/4A/5/250’s, seems to be pretty decent, although I think there’s some bubbling just in front of the tail light. By the way, the wheels aren’t stock, but that won’t bother many Triumph fans. Wire wheels would probably need retruing/replacing anyway, and the standard disc wheels with center caps are not terribly special. New sets of wire wheels and adapters are readily available.

I was hoping for a set of emblem holes on the right hand side of the trunk, but apparently they have been filled in. These cars were available with both an independent rear suspension and a solid axle. Based on the stance of this car, I suspect it has the solid axle but we can’t tell for sure without looking.

The interior is a mixed bag. The seller rightly states that it’s in decent condition, and the seat covers and door panels bear that out. However, the padded door tops have been added from a later car, the top of the dash has been crudely recovered, and the wooden dash itself is a poorly made aftermarket one that doesn’t even have the correct recesses to accept the gauges and indicator lights. On the bright side, that looks like solid floors and a decent aftermarket transmission tunnel (the originals are pressed cardboard, believe it or not).

Here’s where the ugly comes in. I’m hoping that this is a “spare” cylinder head that someone picked up. If not, that dropped valve and the rust may well have made this engine uneconomical to rebuild. While used ones are available, the wet liner design means you have to be very careful with the rebuild process and a specialist or at least someone familiar with the design is generally required. I’ve asked the seller through eBay about the engine and I’ll put any reply in the comment section. If the condition of the engine is indicated by the cylinder head, this might be a little pricey, but if not, it could be a decent if not spectacular buy. What do you think?


  1. Howard A Member

    1st of all, that word “ugly”, should be one of those words that sends the comment to the moderators, like profanity, or politics. ( apparently, personal attacks are ok) Ugly is such an ugly word, how about, challenging or unlovely. 2nd, great find. Where you gonna find a freakin’ TR4 looking like this for this price? I highly doubt that rusty cylinder head is from this car. That’s been sitting outside for years. Personally, I think the wheels ( that look like 240Z wheels) should go, there’s so many cool wheels to choose from, the least of the worry. Be a great car to fix as you go. The only reason I’d want a TR6, is because these, my favorite Triumph, are so hard to find.( and 5 figures, to boot) If I had the cash, I’d be on my way to the Peach State right now!

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Howard–“the good, the bad, and the ugly” is just a literary device, don’t slam me for that one! (said in jest, in case my tone of voice doesn’t convey). Those wheels are aftermarket, but were fitted to so many 240Z’s I can understand the confusion. 4A’s are actually somewhat less expensive than 6’s as a general rule, so I’ll add them to my list of “find a car for Howard” searches :-)

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    • Woodie Man

      Howard: Dont make me thumbs down ya! :)

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  2. Bob Hess

    Look close at the rockers, door bottoms, trunk lid etc. Enough rust coming through to wonder if the frame is any good….. Wheels are American slotted mags… put on about every sports car sold in that era before factories started putting alloy wheels of their own on. I’ve got an early pair of 5 1/2 x 13s and they are still some of the best looking of that time period.

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  3. Steven C

    Love slot mags on tr4’s!

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  4. kman44

    Last summer I picked up a completely rust free driver+ BMW 328i convert with NO major problems. I paid $4k CDN for it and had it gone over by the BMW shop. They found a number of things but nothing that couldn’t wait. I decided to do every thing so had new springs, shocks, control arms, correct battery and a fairly long list of bits and pieces replaced, Also added new Michelin ice radials as I expected to be on my way down I-5 long before now. So I’m now in for a total of about $9k CDN. Remember that is .75 of a US dollar. I’m still not sure about the A/C until the new pulley, belt and tensioner are installed. I also have a problem putting the top down but not up & it is the most complicated top in biz. My point is: compare with the somewhat clapped out TR4. I had a ’63 one of those. OK for it’s day, but… Oh my bimmer is a ’98.

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    • Klharper

      Ok Kmann sorry to be a downer but the BMW is just a rep mobile to me. I have a pair of jag xk8’s a coupe and a convertible. They are fine cars and still lovely to look at, but my old Alfa’s are the ones I really enjoy, They aren’t near as fast or comfortable, but if it came to the point where I had to sell one or the other the jags would be gone. I think the TR here has more in common with the Alfa’s in this scenario than the jags.

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  5. Beemoe

    While we are conducting grammatical critiques, I think “predisposed” is the word you’re looking for. :-)

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  6. TRC

    We found a 426 mile one with a story to go with what was left of it

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  7. Doug Towsley

    I will be watching with interest. GREAT INTEREST, This one is in slightly better condition than mine, but I have Original wheels, the top bows and mine is a TR4A. The motor parts discussed are just spares, there is a complete motor IN the car. So this looks like a very viable candidate for resto. (So is mine) I had planned to have mine up for sale by now, but got sidetracked. Still planned for a spring sale and make it a driveway runner. (Motor runs and trans shifts) but the brakes need serious attention. Many people upgrade the brakes with stainless internals and the way to go. Upgrade the shocks with the conversion kit. (The original Lever shocks are duds) and you have a sweet little car. The values are going up and up on these. I wish I could keep mine but too many projects, not enough time in the day. Thanks for the posting!
    BTW,, the starters are UN-OBTAIN-IUM for these so if he has a spare, bonus. Rebuild what you have otherwise.

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  8. Pete

    Indeed those are ET Mags on that car. I had the same set on my 280Z. If a set of center caps can be located they look pretty nice for what they are. Sure wire knock offs would be better. But the ET’s aren’t a bad way to go until you find some. I recall back in that Era Cragers, Keystones and ET’s were the only options for after market Mags. Unfortunately only ET made 4 lug mags if my memory serves you right. I wanted a set of Cragers for my Z but they didn’t make them. What is the most amusing thing about the Mags back then was that you were either a Keystone guy or a Crager guy, similar to Ford vs Chevy. LOL

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