To “B” Or Not To “B”: 1963 Triumph TR3B

1963 Triumph TR3B

Some of you have felt that the TR3’s posted lately on Barn Finds have been too far gone to be bothered with. I decided to see what was out there if one wanted to spend a little more money. Turns out there’s a nice one for sale right around the corner from me. This 63,000 mile car is for sale here on craigslist in Raleigh, North Carolina for $11,950.

Triumph TR3B

Now don’t get me wrong, this car isn’t perfect. You can see the rusty driver’s side rocker panel in this picture, although the surrounding European machinery at least leads one to believe its in a friendly home at this dealership. The ad also states that there is rust on the driver’s side floor as well. But they have thoughtfully included both new panels with the sale.

1963 Triumph TR3B Engine

If you aren’t familiar with the TR3B story, this is it in a nutshell. North American Triumph dealers and distributors didn’t think their customer base was ready for the newfangled wind up windows and Michelotti shape of the TR4 (turns out they were wrong, but I digress). The factory agreed to continue producing TR3’s to be sold alongside the TR4. 3B’s were made in two series; TSF cars, which were essentially identical to late TR3A’s with the exception of having the TR4’s all-synchromesh version of the TR3 transmission, and TCF cars that also had the 2138cc TR4 engine versus the TR3A 1991cc version. This car is within the later 2,804 TCF series cars, making it more desirable to some as the ultimate development of the TR2/TR3. The ad quotes good compression tests on all four cylinders and that the clutch and brakes are in good working order.

Triumph TR3B Interior

The interior vinyl looks quite serviceable, especially if you are looking for a driver rather than a show car. Paint is termed presentable, and the black should be matchable once the rocker panel and floor are repaired. A new carpet kit would do wonders for the interior appearance (once the hole in the driver’s floor is repaired that is). Chrome is said to be nice and the gauges work.

1963 Triumph TR3

I’m a little bit familiar with the dealer, as a friend bought an MGB-GT from them and was quite happy. So it’s apparent that a decent TR3 can be found, albeit for a little more money than the sub-$5,000 projects we have featured recently. But I really think this is a better buy if you can swing it; this car can be enjoyed as-is and improved over time. While it’s not the car to purchase if you are looking for a show car, it would be a terrific way to spend the summer driving and then fix the holes over the winter. I’d replace the steering wheel with a nice Moto-Lita wooden one and have a grand time. What would you do?

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Comments

  1. Scot

    Having owned a number of these if it were mine I’m sure I know what would happen. They are so easy to work on. I’d start just cleaning it up by cleaning all the electrical connections. It would progress to cleaning up the rot, both the rust and rubber bits. Then there would be a tidying of the interior. By the time I was done it would look the same just the loose ends taken care of and I would try and drive it every day it wasn’t raining.

    These are robust little cars that always made a trip an adventure.

  2. Badnikl

    I think it is fair money for the car. Fix it up and drive it then sell it for what you put in it.
    Great fun easy to work on and The Roadster Factory has everything you need!

  3. Fred

    That is about the twin of my TR-3A that I bought for $700 and sold for $800 around 1975 I had a few more dents but my interior was nicer. Fun car, easy to work on.

  4. WillCorke

    Definitely a better bet than the basket-cases you’ve featured! You could have a nicely patinated car once a few sympathetic fixes were dealt with.

    I’d keep the banjo wheel, it adds to the unmolested atmosphere.

  5. Rancho Bella

    Jamie……………MotoLita steering wheel?………ahh NO
    Have the “correct steering wheel restored”

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Rancho, we’ll have to disagree on this one :-) But I certainly wouldn’t turn it down either way! See my comment down further about my friend’s motolita that retains the horn/turn signal assembly.

  6. John M

    The price is about right for this one unless there is some serious rust issues on frame. Clean up the rocker panel rust, some new carpet, a few more things tidying up and a super fun british roadster for under $15. The chrome looks pretty good. Black with red interior looks great on these. I own a 1960. They are blast to drive, and will stop people in their tracks.

  7. jim s

    right color inside and out, side curains, and needs some rust repair ( pop rivet gun, glue, and rustoleum primer and black, both brushed on ). do a real good PI, looking for more rust and make the seller an offer. then drive it. great find.

  8. Jim

    Problem with the steering wheel is that this is the optional “Adjustable” steering wheel. There is a knurled collar behind the wheel that allows you to adjust the length of the column from “Yeah this is really close” an additional 2 inches to “HOLY CRAP this is ridiculously close”. The non-adjustable wheels spokes kind of form a “T” and the adjustable ones are this “Peace Sign” – ish or “Y”.

    The adjustable wheels are unobtanium.

    if you go with a mona lita then you lose the center horn button and turn signal switch. In my opinion anything other than the cool turn signal switch is just a bodge.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Actually, Jim, there are some older Motolita (at least I’ve been told they are Motolita) wheels that keep the center horn/turn signal assembly. A friend of mine has one–thus my desire for it! :-)

    • Scot

      Remember selling a TR3 and getting a TD. Was thankful for the steering wheel being so close in the TD. With the leather bench seat the steering wheel was the only thing that kept me from sliding across the car in a left turn.

  9. Horse Radish

    shouldn’t the title read:
    three ‘b’ or not three ‘b’ ?

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      I like that :-)

  10. Andrew S Mace Member

    My kind of car…as in (if I had time, money, space) do what needs doing, preserve the rest and enjoy it. I fear, though, that this could go the route of so many cars like it: off-frame checkbook restoration followed by years of 47 miles per year driven alternating with years of “let’s see if I can get at least SOME of my money back at auction”! :(

  11. james g

    couldn’t help pointing out the alfa romeo duetto and the early 911 in the back ground

  12. kenzo

    Nice car, my brother had one and it was fun.
    Just curious. In the picture of the back end any idea what the car is in front of the TR. The one with the hood and trunk open
    cheers
    ken

    • Jim Sneddon

      Looks like an early 911 to me

  13. RickyM

    Such a cute little car. Love the black exterior with the red interior. Nice cars in the background of a very clean good looking garage.

  14. gunningbar

    Dont mess with the steering wheel. Nice find!

  15. Armstrongpsyd Douglas Armstrong Member

    Seems like a great price to me. I just spent 4.5 years doing a driveway restoration on a 58 TR3. I used all original parts from my buddy’s hoarded parts collection. I figure it’s worth about 20k. I hand sanded every square inch and retreaded every nut and bolt. It drives great, but gets so much attention, it can be a pain to park.

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