A 1961 Triumph Tr-3 Is Still My All-Time Favorite Sports Car
After I had a head-on collision with my 1959 Austin-Healey “Bug-Eyed” Sprite, I traded it in on a 1961 Triumph TR-3.
It was the only 'used car' that was being displayed, on a show room floor that was otherwise filled with new cars, at Seaway Sports Cars in Mona Shores, Michigan.
When I bought the TR-3 it was two years old, had 17 thousand miles on it and cost me $1,700; after using my wrecked 1959 Sprite as a trade-in.
Over two hundred thousand miles and about ten years later I was T-boned turning into my home street; otherwise I might possibly still be driving it.
It had two SU-type side draft carburetors that were very finicky. It is probably a lost art that required the balancing of the air and fuel intakes, in order to keep the engine purring powerfully and reproducing that one-of-a-kind throaty exhaust sound.
Oh, that sound!
One of my favorite memories is the reverberating sound that the exhaust of the TR-3 made going under an underpass with the engine turning around 4,000 RPMs in second or third-gear. A friend of mine who lived up in the Carolina mountains said that the car sounded like a "mad bumblebee" coming up the hill when I would come to visit.
I finally found that, using a small tubular vacuum gauge, in combination with listening to the hissing noise that they made, that I could match that sound coming out of each of them and then tune them almost to perfection.
My friends, who owned Austin-Healey 3000s, MGAs and Jaguar XK 140s and 150s, etc., would frequently enlist my aid in helping them to tune their SU carburetors. The Austin-Healey 3000s were the toughest to tune and balance because they typically had 3 of the SU Carbs on their engines.
Easy and inexpensive to work on
The TR-3 engine had wet-sleeve cylinders. If you scored one or it went out of round, it was about a three-hour job to take off the head and pull out the bad cylinder and pop in a new one that typically could be scavenged from an old engine in a junkyard. That was really important to me when I was in the army and when I was raising three young sons on a foundry supervisor’s salary.
I also learned that the Dunlop tires were hard and slippery on wet pavement but that I could get 70 or 80 thousand miles on a set.
Rice-burners for lunch
My current favorite car is my 1996 Pontiac Firebird Formula with the LT-1 Corvette engine, 245 millimeter tires and 6-speed manual transmission.
Oh, by the way, it is extremely fun to have a souped-up Honda or other type of rice-burner try to show off in front of this old man in his “sleeper” Firebird.
Click on the TR-3 Exhaust Sounds video below and see if it gets your engine running!
After that, click on the link just below the TR-3 Exhaust Sounds video below to read an article about the night a 1955 Chevy was the hottest car in town
Triumph TR-3 Exhaust Sounds
1955 Chevy's Big Night Out in Marked Tree, Arkansas
- 1955 Chevy's Big Night Out in Marked Tree, Arkansas
1955 Chevy sedan with a brand new 350 horsepower 327 Chevy short block. It had a huge four-barrel carburetor and a set of custom exhaust headers with a 3:89 or 4:11 rear end. It was a true sleeper.