1965 Triumph TR4 - Non running

My girlfriend is the original owner of this car, bought originally in Seattle. It has resided in S. CA for the past 35+ years. It has not been driven for over 25 years. She is considering either selling ‘as is’ to my brother in law, who would fix it up for his daughter, OR having it fixed up herself and driving it again. She has a firm offer ‘as is’ for $7500. She has been quoted $2 - 4,000 to fix it up, with understanding that future repairs could be necessary. She is VERY attached to the car, in spite of not driving it in some time. FYI: It is FREE of any rust, and has been garaged it’s entire life. No accidents either.

What does the community think?


If she is VERY attached to the car, why would she consider selling it? Rust free, original owner, garaged SoCal car, no accidents. She’d be crazy to sell it IMO. Fix it up and drive it up PCH with the top down…I’d sacrifice some vital organs to do that…

Guaranteed instant regret if she sells and sees your BIL’s daughter driving it. If you love her you’ll make her keep it and fix it up. :wink:

There is only one opinion that counts. Hers.

Considering the history, lack of rust, and the strong attachment to the car, my vote would be to keep it, fix it up, and enjoy it. It’s worth way more than the repair costs and not being a cookie-cutter car is worth something in my opinion.
Besides, I’m a sucker for old British iron… :slight_smile:

I think they were fantastic cars for the time (a buddy of mine had one) and I’d love to have a restored one… BUT I’d far rather my daughter were driving a late model Civic! No car a half century ago was anywhere near as safe as any modern car, and that goes double for the British Leyland cars. No, make that TRIPLE!

This would make someone a great weekend toy. But even when they were new they were more renowned for breaking down (doggoned Lucas Electrical Systems) and needing regular TLC than for their reliability. Lack of reliability was the price we paid for having a Brit ragtop. Add to that its age and… well,… the problem becomes obvious.

And if you need more convincing, try researching the TR4 carbs. That’ll give you a fast education in the drawbacks and eccentricities of multiple simple carburetors.

I love those cars. The TR3, TR4, TR6, even the “wedge” TR7, the Spitfire (almost bought one new) the MGA, MGB, MGT(C through F) even the Midget, the old Sunbeams, the Bugeye Sprites, all of 'em. I’ve evn had fun in Fiat 124 Spiders and an X-1/9th, But I never bought one 'cause I needed something reliable.

This is really not a car for a kid. Every kid would love it, I guess, but there’s just not a single bit of safety equipment on it except maybe a set of very poor lap belts. In modern terns, it’s a death trap. Now, if a grown adult wants to spend some money on it as a hobby toy, then they can make that decision, but I would never let my kid drive it.

It’s a good situation to be in, owning a classic potential car like that with no rust. If brought back to like new condition, it would be worth a pretty penny.

Still, for me, I’d take the money and sell it to the highest bidder. Let someone else fix it up. Not that it wouldn’t be a great classic car to own and drive around town once in a while. But it’s less safe than an air cooled VW Beetle, and is probably harder to source parts for too. If your gf has a desire to drive a classic, sell the TR4 and use the money to buy an old air cooled Beetle that’s already been fixed up.

How can she be a kid? She is the original owner of a 1965 car. I would vote for keeping and fixing.

“She is considering either selling ‘as is’ to my brother in law, who would fix it up for his daughter”

Nice catch Oldtimer, but I think the reference was to the aforementioned option…

"She has been quoted $2 - 4,000 to fix it up, with understanding that future repairs could be necessary. " Those numbers are not very realistic…If you are going to pay a restoration shop to do this, $10K will get you started…

I’d fix up the necessary mechanicals and not do a full restoration if possible. “Original” cars are more valuable today.

Get a realistic estimate on what it will cost to return it to good running condition and it may look a bit less attractive. That current price is a joke and can’t have been given by anyone who knows old British cars. It’s one of my favorite old roadsters, but reliable they aren’t.

What I know for sure is that she needs to do some hard thinking before she lets it go. Maybe it would be worth fixing it up and THEN making a decision. Once it’s gone, she won’t ever have another one like it, and she’ll likely be kicking herself for letting it go. (and you can use the same logic if she’s ever thinking of breaking up with you)

I agree with @texases. Survivors, unrestored all original drivable cars, are all the rage right now. If it were stored properly, you may just need to clean out the fuel system, including rebuilding the carbs, cleaning out the fuel tank, blowing out the lines, change the fluids, new battery, and get her running.

BustedKnuckles’ list is a good one, but because this old car hasn’t been driven for so many years, I would add replacement of the wheel cylinders and the flexible brake lines to that list. It would be a shame to put money into other repairs and then find that a brake line has popped when you do your first hard stop.

its sat for 25 years, she isn t that attached…
either park it out front and plant flowers in it or sell it

I have a friend who took a Jaguar and replaced the motor and transmission with a 250 Chevy six and two speed power glide. That is the only way garbage cars like these will ever be daily drivers. My bro had a Triumph while I was a teen and the car was a piece of crap…even back then when all cars were bad. It is totally worthless rebuilding these cars for anything but eye candy. For some reason, they are held in great esteem when in reality, they had the reliability of a Yugo. Because it was a sports car and not a sedan is the only reason they were given house room. I would work on your girlfriends “false opinion” of the car and not the car.

Fixing these cars up for a daughter is the height of money wasting. How good are you going to feel when your daughter is driving an unsafe car, after dark through a bad neighborhood that has the reliability of an old Vega with the top down. It’s peeing money away and creating unsafe situations. Let the car collectors with more money then sense have them and sell it ASAP for what ever you can get.

Btw, my brother lost his mind a some years ago and bought a restorable MG. It sat in the garage for five years and only got out twice a year to run it. It still broke down twice. Anything you do to make these cars serviceable is a money pit.


I take exception to the suggestion that these are “garbage cars”. Reliability is not the end all be all for the measure of car. I have a 1974 TR6, it’s a fantastic car, and I don’t plan on ever getting rid of it. If you are a car enthusiast who is interested in learning hands-on about how cars work, and aren’t afraid to get your hands dirt every now and then, you’ll like the classic British car ownership experience. If you’re the type who sees cars as appliances or as solely as means to get from point A to point B, then you’re better off sticking with a beige Camry. With that said, I wouldn’t want a TR4 as a daily driver, but as a fun/weekend car it would a great choice.

You can get a running TR4 in good condition for around 13 grand. She wants $7500 for a car that probably needs 10 grand worth of restoration. Nobody’s going to pay that. The numbers don’t add up. She might as well keep it.

Based on the classifieds in Hemmings, even if it needs $10,000 of work, it is probably worth $18,000 or more given its original, unrestored state. If she really likes it, first make sure the engine will turn over. Remove the spark plugs and turn the crank by hand to make sure the engine is not seized. If not, then replace all the rubber bits, the brakes, the belts, rebuild the carbs, and clean out the fuel system. This might cost $10,000 if she pays someone to do all the work, but a lot can be done at home in the garage. That will save a ton of money. I vote to fix it and keep it.