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A 1961 Triumph TR-3 is my all-time favorite sports car

Updated on May 13, 2017
1961 TR-3
1961 TR-3
Me and my TR-3 in a 1967 seat-belt campaign ad at Fort McPherson in Atlanta
Me and my TR-3 in a 1967 seat-belt campaign ad at Fort McPherson in Atlanta
1959 Austin-Healey "Bug-Eyed" Sprite
1959 Austin-Healey "Bug-Eyed" Sprite
MGA
MGA
Jaguar XK 150
Jaguar XK 150
As I remember there were 2 SU Carburetors on most Jaguar and MG engines during that time
As I remember there were 2 SU Carburetors on most Jaguar and MG engines during that time
Austin-Healey 3000
Austin-Healey 3000
3 SU Carburetors in an Austin-Healey 3000
3 SU Carburetors in an Austin-Healey 3000
Wet sleeve cylinders in the Triumphs. If one offends you,  it takes about three or four hours to pluck it out and replace it!
Wet sleeve cylinders in the Triumphs. If one offends you, it takes about three or four hours to pluck it out and replace it!
This "Sleeper" 96 Firebird Formula with a Corvette engine is my current fun-ride.
This "Sleeper" 96 Firebird Formula with a Corvette engine is my current fun-ride.

Mad Bumblebee

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 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

Comments

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    • meteoboy profile image

      meteoboy 

      7 years ago from GREECE

      I love classic cars. I would like to have one . Your article is pretty good.Thank you for sharing.

    • tectonic profile image

      tectonic 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Superb nuggets of info you’ve got. Somebody get’em a beer!

    • DiamondRN profile imageAUTHOR

      Bob Diamond RPh 

      8 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

      Thanks, Andrew. Great link.

    • profile image

      Andrew 

      8 years ago

      I like MGA i like to share slide of old cars http://www.slideshare.net/robcook99/classic-cars-a...

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 

      8 years ago

      The Triumph TR-3 and the Austin Healey too great old English cars - very nice tribute.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      8 years ago

      Nice toys! Didn't understand a lot of it, but your enthusiasm came through loud and clear!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      That car looks like great gun. Nice article with all the pictures.

    • profile image

      Artzpotter 

      8 years ago

      Great article!

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