Ads on Test: Triumph TR3A

It’s by no means concours, but this older-restoration example has mellowed nicely in enthusiast ownership, says Paul Hardiman

Price £21,950

This is a 1959 car that was originally left-hand drive. Repatriated in the mid-Nineties, it underwent a lot of restoration work along with the conversion to right-hand-drive – a simple bolt-for-bolt job on these – before being first registered here in 1998. There are lots of 1997-dated bills from Northern TR Centre, which include floors (including boot), sills, pistons, liners, camshaft and bearings. It’s well protected underneath and there appears to be no rot.

It’s now settled back into a tidy, driver-quality car, with a only a couple of small blemishes in the paint – a couple of chips in door edges and a small crease in the back where the now-straightened left rear over-rider was pushed into it.

The right wing protector shows two small dings, bumpers – probably reproductions – are good and the hubcaps must be too because there are a couple of slightly rusty older ones in the boot, along with a spare headlight, second tonneau cover, jack and spare cylinder head gasket. The hood and its cover look newer, with clear windows, though there are no sidescreens.

The chassis is straight and solid with good rear crossmembers, and the exhaust looks newish. Other items lend confidence, such as new-looking Nyloc nuts on the rear axle U-bolts, and plenty of grease around the front balljoint nipples. Some of the wheels are lightly rust-speckled, shod in metric steel radials with almost unused winter-pattern tread, and an older Michelin on the spare.

The motor is a little grubby but new throttle and choke linkages suggest the carburettors may have been rebuilt, and the dynamo is new, as are the master cylinders. Oil is dark and full, and the coolant is of adequate level.

Inside, the dash vinyl was redone at restoration and the seats probably were too; the leather is just starting to crease. The carpets don’t look worn and there are inertia-reel belts. The steering wheel is very original and a bit tatty, and the instruments are a mixture – mostly Jaeger and in good shape but with the oil gauge yellowed, a Lucas fuel gauge and an SW temperature gauge that’s obviously a later replacement. The original steering-wheel boss-mounted indicator switch has been superseded by a dash-mounted toggle.

The pushrod four starts easily with the typically TR-ish slight tappety tickover that soon calms down. It drives really nicely and there’s no steering play – the front can feel a touch floaty on the move but the dampers work well so we’ll put that down to the soft-compound, knobbly tyres. Oil pressure is excellent – 60psi at tickover and 75psi at 4000rpm, though a note attached to an older dyno sheet explains that the tacho reads 400rpm fast. Temperature was steady at 180°F; there’s an override switch for the electric fan, which we didn’t need.

Autostorico has a cosmetically sharper 1960 example in black with red leather at £30,000, but this took our eye as a very usable car that’s nice to drive and seems to have shed any post-restoration niggles. This is one of four cars for sale tested in the latest issue, part of 16 pages of buying tips and advice, including Quentin Willson’s Hot Tips, Ads on Test and Buying Guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars.

Engine 1991cc inline four cylinder, ohv Power 100bhp @ 5000rpm Torque 117lb ft @ 3000rpm 0-60mph 12.4sec Top Speed 104mph Fuel Consumption 26mpg Length 3886mm Width 1422mm