RESTORED HERO RETURNS TO JABBEKE
Last weekend, the Jabbeke-monstering Triumph TR2 – Britain’s hero proven as the fastest sub-2.0-litre car you could buy – made an emotional return to the Belgian stamping ground where it achieved its world-beating feat 64 years ago.
The mayor of the community council of Jabbeke hosted a welcome reception for the TR2 and its rescuer, Glen Hewett of Protek Engineering, while other TR owners – using the town’s Hotel Ibis as their base – paraded their cars around locally to the delight of press and public alike.
It represented the crowning moment in the career of this roadster, which has been ‘work in progress’ since it was born. ‘It’s been quite a task,’ says Glen, whose workshop is in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. ‘We kept finding so many little differences from a standard TR2 because this one was totally handbuilt, and we’re now sure that the front part of the car is actually the TR1 prototype.’
That certainly chimes with the make-do-and-mend nature of Triumph’s whole sports car project, with the TR2’s ‘godfather’, Ken Richardson, often working single-handedly on the venture. Perhaps it also explains why the engine was totally standard and unmodified for the speed record attempt.
Afterwards, MVC 575 was the Geneva Motor Show car and then Richardson used it for two years as everyday transport. Glen first got wind of its survival co-incidentally while chasing another car.
‘It hadn’t been seen since 1972,’ he says. “The owner had all the dismantled parts but, as it moved from garage to garage all over London, they were scattered. A deal was struck and I picked up several wheelbarrows full of stuff!’
The nut-and-bolt restoration took a year and over 1000 man-hours. While some of the panels, such as the bonnet and doors, looked scruffy, they were actually quite sound. It was the abundant rust in the front and rear bulkheads and the floor that needed a huge amount of repairwork and new metal. In addition, a total engine rebuild was undertaken, and the entire driveline was overhauled and components replaced where necessary.
Unique parts from its time as a record-breaker, especially the aluminium tonneau cover and the frame for the Perspex aeroscreen, were lost decades ago, and so had to be painstakingly re-fabricated, often using period photos for reference. Standard replacement parts from Moss-Europe had to be artfully modified to fit the one-off nature of this important TR forebear.
And one surprising discovery was its original colour. ‘Everyone thought it was white, because every picture you see of it in magazines was in black-and-white,’ says Glen. ‘We found it was Ice Blue, which actually is more like a light green. This made things even more difficult to get right.’
Yet another example of Glen’s quest for authenticity is the vivid Royal Blue of the underbonnet area, as originally – and mysteriously – built in 1953. ‘When we got it, this car was fully dismantled and mostly rotten,’ he says. ‘If this had been was anything else, we’d have thrown a lot of it away, but this is a very special car. We’re so pleased and proud to have rebuilt it. It’s probably the most pivotal single car in Triumph’s history.’
’We’re so proud to have rebuilt it. It’s probably the most pivotal single car in Triumph’s history’
The legendary car at MossEurope. The firm supplied many parts for the resto. Thousands of man hours were spent restoring the TR2 (images courtesy Jabbeke TR2 Facebook page).