Thanks to all the work put into this TR3 by Edward Fitzpatrick, this Triumph strikes a fantastic balance between driver involvement and usability.
It starts with the steering, which is one of the standout features. This TR3’s updated rack and pinion set-up is as light as you could hope for from an unassisted system. It’s far from a workout at parking speeds, and once above 10mph it is utterly effortless.
Part of this is thanks to the large wheel which, yes, brings drawbacks in terms of input from lock-to-lock, but the steering never feels over-light, vague or displays any play. Most pleasingly of all, the Triumph’s turn-in and directional agility is something you just can’t achieve in heavier cars. It darts from side-to-side with ease, and placing the car where you want it in a corner is so satisfying.
One thing that can’t be changed is the TR3’s live rear axle, or at least not without swapping the chassis entirely. Mid-corner bumps do lead to a degree of hop, but everything is predictable – which couldn’t be said of the independent swing-axle set-up Triumph would launch in the Herald a few years later. It’s a sporty ride for sure, at its worst over pocked surfaces, but the car stands up relatively well to it – scuttle shake never became intrusive to us during our time with the car.
Putting the power down, the clutch is a tad heavy, so if there’s a further modification we’d recommend for this car it would be here. This is the only part of the gearchange which isn’t on point, because the gearbox itself is easy, reasonably short and delightfully tight.
Nick warns us that the two vertical paths of the H-pattern gearbox are easy to confuse, meaning you can land in first when trying to go from second to third. Duly warned, we avoided crunchy mistakes. Even reverse gear is easy to engage, which can be a two-handed affair.
For all of this ease of use, this TR3 is neither remotely numb nor modern feeling. The idea that sports cars have to be difficult to drive to be engaging is a falsity – just look at the ‘Frogeye’ Sprite. The real difficulty is achieving this in a car that packs a meaningful punch.