Tri-Ford? 1962 Triumph TR3 Swap


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Barn Finds reader Harlan B. wrote: Guys, not really sure about this, very little info. Pinto engine? If someone has another parts car this might be a great deal? Never seen these wheels on one? Car is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s identified as a 1962 Triumph TR3, which depending on the serial number may mean it’s a TR3A or TR3B. It’s listed for sale here on craigslist for $5,500.


First off, I’ll agree with Harlan that those are aftermarket aluminum wheels, not factory Triumph wheels. Based on this picture the car was in California for a while, but of course someone could have just bolted a plate on. Overall, there are some curves and waviness on this body that just shouldn’t be there, so although it looks relatively solid in these pictures, I would check carefully.


While the seller states “rust free”, apparently their definition of rust and mine aren’t the same. I’ll take this to mean “no huge holes in the body that weren’t there at the beginning, but who knows what’s actually under that paint.” The shroud here has certainly been worked on as no lettering or badge holes are present.


It looks like the floors are pretty solid, which would be nice, but I’d still want to look closely at the sills and lower doors for corrosion. The seats aren’t original upholstery but might clean up to be ok for a driver, and the “occasional” rear seat might just take a baby seat strapped in if you can deal with doing that. It looks like the dashboard has been customized, and after looking under the hood I can see why.


No, that’s not the wet liner Triumph four-cylinder! I think Harlan has correctly identified the engine as being of the Ford Pinto family, although I’m not sure of the exact size. We’re not told if it runs or not, but I hope it does. Would you leave it like this with the Ford engine, or try to restore it? Or do you consider it a parts car?

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  1. chris

    trash. A crisp one of these barely breaks the plus 20k mark and it would take more than that to even get near that.

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  2. Roger Owen

    If as structurally sound as stated, this might be a good starter project for someone with a reduced budget. Ford engine a shame and finding an original lump could be expensive, I’d get the thing up and running as is and have a bit of fun for not too much money. Wheels are hideous, a set of repro wires or Cosmic alloys would look good.

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  3. Bruce

    I should go get this and put it as close to original as possible. I have a good TR3 engine/tranny sitting in my shop, along with a few other body parts. Could make for a nice driver.


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  4. Roger Owen

    Go for it! Apart from the engine there’s lots of originality – those bucket seat are becoming hard to find, and if you’ve got an engine and gearbox lying around – I’d say it’s Game, Set & Match!

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  5. Bruce

    I sent the seller an email. I have a buyer for the TurboVex wheels, also have a set of refurbished Dayton 48 spoke wire wheels to put on this.

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    • Jamie Palmer JamieAuthor

      Go, Bruce, Go! :-)

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    • Badnikl

      Perfect Bruce, I hope you can secure this and fix it up!

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  6. Roger Owen

    Gets better and better! Someone is smiling on you! Keep us posted.

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  7. Van

    This would be a good start for a restomod.
    It does look solid, maybe.
    Just make it look decent, install late model 4cyl with trans.
    Don’t sweat the details.
    If you have limited space, funds, security, etc.
    Why bother?
    Small town cops don’t like seeing go carts on the street around the town square.

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  8. Mike Williams

    It looks like a good candidate for a SVO 2.3 turbo with a stock 200 HP.

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  9. Dpeter1946

    The front valance has been body puttied over and nose badges are both missing and the holes filled with more body putty. The rear wings have been either welded or puttied into the rear valance as the rear trim strips below the lights are gone and smoothed over. The Dash has also been cocked up and the entire center instrument cluster has been “customized”. If the frame is solid (questionable) it might be worth a grand as a starter project but only if the old motor and trans came with it.

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  10. Bruce

    So far nothing from the seller.


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  11. bcavileer

    Plastic fantastic lover… great car so molested.

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  12. Roger

    Some of you guys might hate me for this but I’ve never been a big fan of these type cars but I am a huge Ford guy. So, I’d get it running just as is or even better yet I like that idea of them 2.3 turbo and just beat the hell out of this a a beater roadster. I don’t know if this thing has a top but I would never put on on this ever. I’d leave it off just like my old beater jeep and just run it in nice days and keep a towel somewhere just incase.

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  13. JerryS

    30 years ago I had a spare TR3 frame with all bent sheet metal. I thought about doing this as Pintos that ran were dirt cheap .

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  14. Van

    I’m so confused.
    You guy’s said pinto motor good.
    Part out good.
    Spend more than its worth good.
    Give it late model dependable engine bad.
    Keep cost under control bad.
    Enjoy great cheep toy bad.
    I don’t want to be rude but WTF.

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    • Roger

      With any classic you’re gonna have two types of people, but that’s especially true with a car like this. One side wants to basically completely restore it and has to be to factory specs or they don’t want to look at it. Theater other bunch of guys ( like myself ) would care to restore it nor if it technically correct parts wise and would just get it running and take it out and enjoy them hell out of it for as cheap as possible – just have fun.

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  15. Benjamin


    Just bought this car in holland and now he is in Belgium.
    So strange to read this story now.
    I am going to restore the car body off.
    It’s difficult to find an original engine tr3b cause it was for the US market.
    Anybody has adresses where i can buy them?

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