We Bought A Triumph TR3A Barn Find!

There’s nothing quite like pushing back barn doors to find a dusty classic car parked inside! It’s even more of a rush when you have no idea what to expect when you see the find for the first time. Recently, Jesse received a phone call from an older gentleman, Neal, that lives just down the road from us in Nampa, Idaho. He had heard that if you have a barn find, we are the guys to call! So, Neal gave Jesse a call to see if we would have any interest in coming to take a look at his car. He didn’t give much information, pretty much just the basics. The car was a 1960s Triumph that has been sitting in his barn since the ’80s. You don’t get calls like this every day, so we dropped everything and jumped in the car. Boy, are we glad we did!

Neal purchased this TR3A back in the early ’80s. He was good friends with one of Boise’s most well-known sports car collectors. One day out on the golf course, his friend suggested he switch to a hobby he might be a little better at. So, Neal decided to give the classic car hobby a try. His friend went on the hunt and found this Triumph for him. It had already undergone restoration but had been parked immediately after, so it needed brakes and some minor repairs. Well, shortly after buying it and having the car fully serviced, his golf game started to improve. So, the TR went into the barn and the car hobby was put on the backburner. Fast forward 30 years and it was still sitting in the barn. Now that he’s nearing 90, Neal decided it was time to move it along.

When we opened the barn doors, the car was under a car cover, which released a cloud of dust as Neal removed it. We couldn’t believe how great the car looked sitting in his barn covered in dust. We quickly spotted some cosmetic issues, but nothing serious. A quick check of the engine revealed that it turned over nicely. While the cobwebs and flat tires made a detailed examination of the frame difficult, we couldn’t find any signs of damage or rust. So, we asked Neal how much he would need to let it go. He told us how much he had paid for it back in the ’80s and that he needed at least that much. We could tell that this one was a good find, so we ended up making him an offer that was higher than what he was asking. With the deal done, we scheduled a time to come back with a tow truck!

The only thing more exhilarating than opening the barn, is getting your find home to see if you hit the jackpot or not. As soon as we got this TR into the shop, we got to work prepping the engine for first start-up. After changing the fluids, hand-cranking it, and installing a fresh battery, we turned the key and pushed the started button… We documented the first start-up in the video above, so I will let you watch that to find out what happened! Be sure to also subscribe to our YouTube channel to get more updates on this project and the other finds we currently have in the garage.

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Comments

  1. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Wow, congrats on finding that gorgeous TR3, guys! That’s easily one of the most beautiful cars ever made.

    Like 8
  2. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Cool find is right! She is a looker. What is the lever on the steering wheel for? Looks like you are having fun already, enjoy!

    Like 3
    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Turn signal.

      Like 3
      • Vegaman Dan

        Jealousy growing… you go a heck of a steal there if you got it at 80’s prices.

        Like 2
      • Jesse Mortensen Staff

        We paid what a TR3 in this condition would go for today.

        Like 1
  3. Had Two

    Congratulations! I have other sports cars now, but saved the
    original shift knob and owner’s manual from my TR3 many moons ago.
    I have them in the car corral (garage) along with other prized
    stuff that bring back nice memories like trips down the Big Sur Coast.

    Like 3
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    Is that car as good as I think it is? Nice!

    Like 1
  5. alphasud Member

    Nice car and one well preserved in the dry Idaho climate. Have fun recommissioning!

    Like 2
  6. Danger Dan

    I got parts!

    Like 1
  7. MattR Member

    Gas – check! – oxygen – check! – spark?
    :) That was classic.

    That little car has a nice rumble. I’m happy for you all!

    Like 4
  8. bobk

    Dare I say it?….. I sure wish that I had people calling me to offer me classic sports cars.

    Enjoy your find.

    Like 7
  9. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    You guys SCORED. Doesn’t look like it needs much more than a little love and time. Great find, gentlemen, and keep us up to date on the updates.

    “I’d rather be lucky than good!”

    Like 2
  10. grant

    Nice find! This isn’t the first clean Triumph you’ve found. I’m hunting for a nice Spitfire 1500, if you stumble across one…

    Like 1
    • Thomas Allen

      There is a 74 spitfire in Portland, oregon

  11. Todd Fitch Staff

    Nice one fellas! LS Swap? Just kidding of course; that’s one sweet ride. You’re ready for the vintage rally. Keep us posted!

    Like 1
  12. Pauld

    I junked out one of these years ago. I was surprised and pleased that many of the parts fit my TR4A. A fellow came by to buy the frame. I went to his house and man cave. He had a stack of Triumph frames and a collection of rare, but ugly, British cars. Wonder where he and his cars are now.

    Like 2
  13. Tommy C

    good job locking the hood down, broke the windshield on my TR3 from the hood flying up and smashing it, my bad!

  14. its1969ok

    I was always fascinated by the low cut doors on these cars. Must be a lot of fun to have your elbow hanging out there!

    • Had Two

      In the day one could butt out their cigarette by scraping it on the ground, at speed.

      Like 2
  15. Larry Member

    Jesse, you could have scored with a much rarer car such as my 1949 Triumph Right Hand Drive 2000 Roadster

  16. MarkC

    Hey, I had first dibs on that car! Jk. I actually live in Nampa Idaho but I’m in Arizona until next week. Been searching for project like that around here around here. A few years ago I came across a similar tr3 out on south 12th that I missed by barely a few minutes.

  17. Arthur Brown

    Nothing says old school charm of a British roadster than the crank hole in the bottom of the grill, even as late as 1960. Did the crank come with it?

    Like 2
    • Gerard Frederick

      Yes, they came with a crank. It worked like a charm, far better than the Lucas starter! The TR3 has got to be one of the sweetest rides ever.

      Like 1
  18. MarkC

    I’ve had 3 cars built after 67 that could be hand cranked- a Morris minor, a Renault 10, and the other I’ve tried to remember for 15 years but it hasn’t come to me yet( still waiting…?). I guess the 34 chevy in pieces could be called a hand cranker but that’s not the one (I still have it).

    Like 2
  19. MarkC

    My father had a tr3 when I was about 11 living near D.C..1967ish.
    Going for a ride one saturday, it made a clunk and started running rough. Back home eventually we found the crankshaft had broken but somehow it still ran!

  20. AutoArcheologist AutoArcheologist Member

    Hey Josh, that is an awesome find.
    We just pulled one from a garage here in CT… a TR3b though… has about 8 more HP than the A..LOL She was under a cover so she cleaned up VERY nicely. She fired up easily.. only issue is bad wheel cylinders, that’ll be fixed probably before this weekend is over.
    The lady’s husband passed away a couple years ago.. and she just can’t bring herself to drive it or do anything with it.. the memories are too painful.

    That A looks great and she should clean up as nicely as this B.

    Like 5
  21. Casey Andersen

    Nice find. I have a hardtop for it if you need one.

    • Jesse Mortensen Staff

      @Casey – I just emailed you!

  22. Bill McCoskey

    Hi guys, nice find, but I just can’t resist in saying what many others always seem to say here;

    Why can’t the owner at least clean it up before taking photos? LOL

    As I recall, last year a guy in California had a lot full of British cars & British parts, lots of TR3 stuff, you might check with him for the left rear wing.

  23. Howard A Member

    Cool “elbow scraper”. Never cared for the TR3, but being British, what’s not to like? You guys are getting quite the collection. Who would have thought, having your own classic car website would have such advantages?

  24. Vudutu

    I am amazed the carbs did not need a rebuild, fussing with them, electrics, and tightening spokes kept me busy. Check them spokes!

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