Ooz­ing pe­riod charm and rel­a­tive af­ford­abil­ity, sidescreen TRs hold mas­sive ap­peal, but with the right up­grades these great cars can be even more ap­peal­ing

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Living With Classics - Richard Dredge

Few cars are more quintessen­tially Bri­tish than a sidescreen Tri­umph TR2, TR3 or TR3A – but it’s more than six decades since the first was pro­duced and as a re­sult the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is pretty ar­chaic. For many own­ers that’s part of the charm, while oth­ers are happy to make sig­nif­i­cant changes in a bid to make their Tri­umph more re­li­able, faster or just eas­ier to drive.

Mar­que spe­cial­ist TRGB’s Gary Bates says: ‘It’s worth spend­ing sig­nif­i­cant money on the en­gine to in­crease power and re­li­a­bil­ity. Fit 89mm pis­tons and gas-flow the en­gine, fit an ex­trac­tor man­i­fold along with a fast-road camshaft. Also fit a TR4A-6 clutch with a light­ened fly­wheel for a lighter pedal and to make the en­gine more free-revving. Bud­get up to £10,000 for ev­ery­thing.’

Gary rec­om­mends stick­ing with SU carbs for road use as these give am­ple torque if set up prop­erly: ‘ You can then fit a 3.45:1 diff (same as the TR6), so at 70mph the en­gine is turn­ing over at just 2000rpm, yet there’s big torque from 1500rpm.’

For cool­ing you can fit a high­den­sity qual­ity ra­di­a­tor and use an orig­i­nal bel­lows ther­mo­stat, which shuts off the by-pass pipe. Another worth­while move is to fit an elec­tric fan, with a six-blade en­gine fan. ‘Stan­dard cars are sprightly, but fit a later cylin­der head or a slightly wilder camshaft and things can be even bet­ter’

Tuned en­gines are par for the course. These cars are sprightly even in stan­dard form, but fit a later cylin­der head, ex­tra car­bu­ra­tion or a slightly wilder camshaft and things can be even bet­ter. Twin We­ber carbs are pop­u­lar, but they’re of­ten not set up prop­erly.

If ev­ery­thing is mod­i­fied so it all works well to­gether, that’s fine, but be aware that just one up­graded com­po­nent could lead to dy­nam­ics that are worse rather than bet­ter.

LIGHTS Halo­gen head­lights are a must. Some own­ers add in­di­ca­tors or fit TR3A rear lights. These in­cor­po­rate a sep­a­rate in­di­ca­tor in the rear body­work whereas ear­lier cars have weedy brake lights that flash – a dan­ger­ous fea­ture. BRAKES Front disc brakes were fit­ted to the TR3 from Septem­ber 1956. They’re more re­as­sur­ing than drums and the ser­vic­ing work is also made eas­ier if you fit TR4-6 front sus­pen­sion – some­thing you can do your­self. EN­GINE Most cars came with a 1991cc four-cylin­der en­gine but some TR3As were sup­plied with the 2138cc unit fit­ted to the TR4 and TR4A. The big­ger unit will slot straight in, although the per­for­mance gains will be mar­ginal. STEER­ING Many own­ers ditch the orig­i­nal box for a rack-and­pin­ion sys­tem. You’ll lose the horn and in­di­ca­tor but­tons on the steer­ing wheel plus you might have to make some changes to your cool­ing sys­tem as the fan might be in the way. GEAR­BOX All sidescreen TRs had a four-speed man­ual gear­box. It can be swapped for a TR4 all­syn­chro box, which bolts into place with min­i­mal changes, or for £2500 you can fit a Toy­ota-sourced five-speed gear­box. OVER­DRIVE Some TRs don’t have over­drive, some on top gear only, oth­ers on sec­ond, third and fourth. Es­sen­tial for long trips, kits are avail­able with a re­built gear­box and over­drive, the wiring and a re­cal­i­brated speedome­ter. AXLE £50+ £1300 £1500+ £2400 £2000+ £2500 £500 The TR2’s Lock­heed­built back axle is weak. Half­shafts break, but stronger re­place­ments are avail­able. Al­ter­na­tively, you can swap to the Gir­ling­built axle of the TR3 and TR3A. It’s much stronger and rarely gives prob­lems.

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