Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Britain’s record breakers -

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).

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