Triumph TR2 and Triumph TR3 Sports Cars

The 'Sidescreen' TRs

The Triumph sports cars, the TR2 and TR3, now commonly known as the 'sidescreen' triumphs to help differentiate them from the later Triumph TR4, TR5 and TR6 models which had wind up windows, began production in 1953 and ended in 1962 with over 80,000 being built in total. It is thought that around a quarter of these cars still survive.

It got a boost to its popularity early in 1954 when Johnny Wallwork won the RAC Rally outright in his privately entered TR2 with TRs also taking second and fifth. The Triumph became the must have sports car of its day.

The TR was a car you could drive to work in and race or rally at the weekend, and still get 30mpg from. It also had the benefit of being cheaper than any of its competitors at only £844 in 1954. In fact it reigned in rallying until the early sixties with clubman entries, right up to the time most rallies went from being mainly tarmac events to forestry tracks where its lack of ground clearance then hampered its performance.

1954 TR2 by EPO on Wikimedia Commons
1954 TR2 by EPO on Wikimedia Commons

Performance and Economy Triumph Style

The Triumph sports cars also excelled at economy. A TR2 won the 1955 Mobil Economy Run with an average of 71mpg. With a top speed of around 105mph, 0-60mph in 11.5 seconds and 0-100 in 40 seconds it was amazingly good value for its time. You could easily spend three times as much on a sports car in the 1950s and get something that was no faster.

In 1955 the car was revamped and named the TR3 with sales picking up strongly in America through 1956. Around 90% of the cars were made for export, the majority going to North America.

The TR3 was one of the worlds first production cars to be fitted with disc brakes. With these, and a modified cylinder head, which meant the engine now gave around 100bhp the Triumph sports car largely remained the same until it ceased production in 1962.

Triumph TR3

TR3 by Arnaud 25 on Wikimedia Commons
TR3 by Arnaud 25 on Wikimedia Commons
1954 Triumph TR2 by EPO on Wikimedia Commons
1954 Triumph TR2 by EPO on Wikimedia Commons

Triumph TR3B Passes the Baton to the Triumph TR4

There was a front end restyle in 1957 to keep American car dealers happy which led to the car becoming the TR3A and the 1957-1960 period was the TRs heyday. Only around 7% of TRs were built with right-hand drive, such was the Triumph sports car's export success, with most going to America.

The TR3A was replaced by the TR4 which came out in late 1961. There were a few late TR3Bs built for America who wanted something cheaper and simpler than the newer, bigger and heavier TR4. Only about 3,300 of the TR3B were built in 1962.

Triumph TR Technical Specification

TR2 1953-55
 
 
Engine
Four cylinder in line, cast-iron block and head
 
Capacity
1991cc
 
Bore x stroke
83mm x 92mm
 
Power
90bhp at 4800rpm
 
Torque
117lb ft at 3000rpm
 
 
 
 
Transmission
Rear-wheel drive four speed, optional overdrive
 
Kerb weight
18.75cwt
 
 
 
 
Performance
 
 
Max speed
103
 
0-60mph
11.9 sec
 
Number Built
8,628
 
 
 
 
TR3 1955-57
 
 
As TR2 except
 
 
Power
95bhp at 5000rpm, later 100bhp at 5000rpm
 
Kerb weight
20cwt
 
 
 
 
Performance
 
 
Max speed
102mph
 
0-60mph
12.5sec
 
Number built
13,377
 
 
 
 
TR3A
 
 
As TR3 except
 
 
Engine
From late 1958 optional 2138cc engine with 100bhp at 4600rpm
 
Number built
58,236
 
 
 
 
TR3B
 
 
Number built
3,334
 
 
 
 

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