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Winter Project: 1959 Triumph TR3A

This TR3A looks like it was used for promotional use by a sandal shop at some point in its life. Now, after having been stationary since 1996 after twenty years on the road with the same owner, it’s time to sell (after 40 years total!) It’s located in Miami, Florida and is listed for sale here on eBay, with bidding stalling at under $1,600 so far.

To answer the next question, I have no idea what that is behind it, I’m hoping one of you can tell us. Back to the Triumph! It needs floors, rockers, and some fender repairs. I’ll bet there may be some more when you get the panels off, but the sills are replaceable and readily available, and I’d repair the fenders.

I was surprised to see how good the frame looks, and also how solid the trunk floor and spare tire compartment are. I’ve seen far worse than this TR3A restored to show condition!

I suppose you could patch the right side, but given that the left side has already been “patched,” I think going for the whole replacements are the best way to go.

The engine looks pretty original, although you’ll be replacing the battery box (typical for TR3s, good ones are available from The Roadster Factory) and it’s funny to see the seller claim that there’s no clutch master cylinder–they are obviously unaware that the single fluid reservoir is used for both cylinders. Another piece of TR trivia; those “bumble bee” plug wires were supposed to be a performance upgrade from Lucas, and if I’m not mistake were actually stranded copper. I’m guessing radio reception would suffer a bit!

Overall, I think this is a great starting point if you are interested in restoring a TR3. The engine runs off a bottle and is said to have good oil pressure and not smoke. Sounds like a winner to me–how about you? And what the heck is that military police vehicle in the background of the pictures?


  1. Frank

    It is a Canadian made ILTIS by Bombardier Canada around 1990 under licence from VW Germany. It replaced our conventional Jeeps. Used in the CF for around 20 years, Canadian made are gas engine European are diesel. Tough as nails go anywhere. Now retired and replaced by Mercedes G Wagon. Hope this helps.

  2. Arno D

    Hi Jamie, The car in the background is a VW Iltis. It was built by Audi for Volkswagen from 1979 to 1998.
    As you can imagine by its look and origin, it was adopted by the German army.
    A civil version even won the Paris-Dakar race in 1980!
    More details here :

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Thanks, Arno! (I should point out I saw his reply first, thanks to Frank as well!)

  3. Frank

    The Canadian version was made by Bombardier in Quebec under licence. The Audi version were for European destinations and diesel. Canadian version sports Bombardier logo on the grill. FYI.

  4. Frank

    The Military Police sign is bilingual as well as two sided for cam purposes. Black with white lettering and reverse on the other.

  5. Righteous Bob

    My boss in Beaufort, South Carolina gave me one back in the late 60’s, yes he was the best boss ever (rest his soul). It was so rusted that you could pick up the body from the frame.. We had more fun with that car and it ran and ran.. I worked at a Garage that only worked on Imported cars, so we had parts if needed.. and lots of part cars.. Chuck paid a $100.00 for that TR back then!
    Life was Great..

  6. Dan

    The Iltis was built as a military vehicle and used by the Canadian Army. It was phased out because it afforded no protection to soldiers against land mines because of it’s light construction

  7. Blueprint

    The Iltis is to the Kubelwagen what the Golf was to the air-cooled Beetle. All light :)

  8. Phil McCrackin

    “Winter Project” ?!
    How many winters do you suspect it will take? Certainly not one.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Depends on how many hours a day you can spend on it. I’ve seen worse done in under 3 months, but the restorer didn’t do much else other than eat and sleep…

  9. john C

    and now, after a brief pause,… back to the Tr#. (-;. I had one back in the early 70s and tried a head gasket repair. I knew nothing.

  10. Buggeman

    The plug wires may cause radio interference but with all the rattles and engine noise you couldnt hear the radio in the one I had!

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