Following Casey Putsch, I Want To Build My Dream Car

I have been keeping up with Casey Putsch’s “King Zero” car series, and in light of that, I am interested in building one of my personal dream cars, a Triumph TR5. The Triumph TR5 is an English sports car that had a run of just under 3,000 cars between August of 1967 and September of 1968. Now, one of the major issues with this build concept has been the wheel base, where numbers kind of clashed. I ended up with a median range of about 2210 mm for the wheel base, or 87.4 inches. That is an insanely small wheel base, which makes sense, the car being 3902x1470x1170, a two door convertible. So, for the purpose of the price of the build, which is purely hypothetical right now, I decided to go with the base of 1999 Toyota Camry, which scales up to be 1.21x bigger then the TR5. And, from there, the numbers work for everything but the length, but this works out, kind of, for me, because I have an extra 80 or so mm to work with. My hypothetical plan is to rip off the body of this Camry, then use that chassis as a base for the TR5 modeled car. For the sake of my sanity, I decided this theoretical car would stay a front engine, instead of a mid engine, like I had planned it. A problem may come in when looking at the hood of a TR5 next to a Camry, since the TR5 had a 2.5 L straight 6, which definitely is different then the 3.0 L V6 in a '99 Camry. So, alternatively, the hood sizes do vastly differ, and so does the cabin. So, within the realm of hypothetical, I could just alter the body, and not mess with the cabin, other then for interior aesthetic, and to make it a convertible. Reading it all out, this may seem a little insane, but, then again, I don’t have much to go off of, I’m just taking the numbers, getting results, and seeing how hypothetically possible it is.

Big project, I had a friend with one in the 70’s, it was nothing but trouble. A fun idea. Just a thought, if you are going to buy all the parts why not just ind an original frame. Sorry you are light years ahead of me. Still loving a 68 mgbgt, only 8000 imported, 2 days to long for the bank to get to me so my boss traded it in. 6 cyl and another trouble car, though .

Correction in looking it was the mgcgt that had the 6 cylinder engine.

1 Like

Well, my thought isn’t to remake what the car was, that would be kind of dumb on my part, there weren’t even 3,000 made, and they definitely aren’t low maintenance vehicles. And beyond all of that, I’m a broke guy as I stand. There is also the “pipe dream” of owning whatever your dream car may be. Well, they say to never meet your heroes, but my role models do say you can sure build them to meet your standards. Which is where the whole idea of using a Camry, and pretty much gutting and using the chassis and engine come from, because I can’t afford even a broken down Triumph TR5, I can, however, take another car, tear it apart, take some sheet metal, model it all out, and make it in the shape of the car I want, with a good engine and a clean title, which I would say would be easier to manage then buying the actual TR5. On top of all that, I can put an engine in there that is much easier to manage, and put my own little touch ups on the car, since the TR5 never did come in a good royal purple color, with gold tinted trimmings. Building it from another car is cost effective, and is better in the long run, since I’m not working on a half a century old engine, and I’m more personally satisfied with the look at the end of the day, because I’ll know I put the work in to make it look like that. This is all, however, still hypothetical, and I’m working out what’s within the realm of possibilities before I try and set any plan in stone. Research, forum questions, and budgeting are a good place to start for me.

I misunderstood your original intention, close enough is not good enough?

1 Like

Close enough is up to interpretation. It most likely won’t look exactly like the TR5, seeing as my current plans leave it a quarter of the size bigger. This car is meant to be more commutable, something I can drive around without needing to get it constantly checked up, while also being something resembling the design of the TR5, which I have come to love. Close enough is good enough, but close enough is up to how I decide to interpret it. It could be the body shape being exact, but certain other things, like the grill and trim, being different. My plan isn’t to replicate as much as it is to base off of the TR5, using it as a source for measurements and inspiration. It may end up looking completely different, or even more like a 911, but this all depends on how I plan it out. Within hypothetical things, I would want it to have the look of the nice English sports car, but play the part of a trustworthy commute car. Casey Putsch’s point in his King Zero series was that you can make your dream car exactly what you want it to be, and that can involve changing some things, or even completely changing some designs to make it better for you, which is my entire basis for this plan

1 Like

Someone has done all that for you, it is called a Mazda Miata.

1 Like

As easy as that would be, a Miata is too small for what I want, I need at least a decent amount of space. Like I said, look of an English sports car, but actually a good commute car, and seeing as I am also a musician, this build would need a good amount of space, whether in the trunk, or behind the seats.

What about a TR250? That more than doubles the market for available cars. There are 7 TR250s listed on Hemmings and one TR5.

An interesting concept because it was common for the British carmakers create “new models” that were basically upgrades of the existing car, with off the shelf bits and minor cosmetic changes.
MGTD to MGDT Series2 to MGTF; Triumph TR4 to TR4a to TR250 (TR5) to TR6 ; MGB to MGBGT to MGC, TR7 to TR8; Sunbeam Alpine to Tiger and the Jaguar XKE to XKE V12
Then there’s all the common consumer modifications like superchargers, fuel injection and electronic ignition, etc. and then the wholesale redesign like the Mazda Miata which looks like a Lotus Elan (but actually starts and runs).

If you’re actually serious I’d start with an MGB which can be had for as little as $1,000 and has the advantage of having all the parts and most of the modifications easily available as new parts and then upgrade as far as your wallet allows.
The other advantage is the large knowledge base which can tell you how to do the mod and which ones really worked.
i.e. In my opinion the 6 cyl engine and IRS in the TR6 was a great improvement over the TR4 but the 6 cyl MGC should have been drowned at birth. And in the area of consumer modifications I’ve seen, putting a V8 into a Triumph Spitfire was just an exercise in insanity.

There are sooo many engineering problems with your idea I barely know where to start…

A Camry has no frame, the body carries all the loads. You don’t want to cut that much at all. The TR5 was a convertible so you need to start with a Camry Solara convertible because you do not want to cut the roof off a regular Camry.

The TR5 replica body probably should be made from fiberglass so you can bond (glue) it to as much of the Camry as possible without removing metal. This means a full size model needs to be created, keeping the dimensions of the Camry in mind so nothing important need be cut to make the body fit.
Then a mold is created off the model and then the actual body. Now all this extra weight needs to be attached to the Camry body with brackets, support beams, filler plates and fabricated trim. The windshield and top should be left alone and the trunk space so the car is actually usable. Heavier springs and struts will be required to support the hundreds of pounds of extra weight of the added body.

The end product will be wildly expensive, significantly heavier, perform worse, handle worse, get poorer fuel economy than the Camry you started with. And the worst, the TR5-like body on a Camry will look exactly like… a bad attempt to replicate a TR5.

A far better concept would be to start with a TR250 and install a modern engine and transmission from a rear wheel drive car and upgrade everything else in the car with modern equipment. These kinds of builds are called “resto-mods.”


Great , another person with a low bank account thinking they can do a dream car on a budget . Don’t people realize that those shows never really show how much work and expense really goes into a project.

Not only will this thing look awful it might not even get certified for road use.

Yep, I watch a boat improvement show, cost is never mentioned.
On car shows often the modification or installation may have been done a dozen times before they get the perfect, easy installation you see on the show.

Well, while you are right, cost is definitely an issue, the idea stays hypothetical until I have the funds I require for it. I start off with research, what I’m doing right now. Clearly, the idea I had was a bad one. So, now I have suggestions to go with. A lot of work does go into those shows, so does time and money, however, I want to do the work, research, and budgeting of what I need before I completely decide on what I need. I am well aware of how hard it may be to get it on the road, these are all things I have looked into and talked to people about. My state laws have specific car laws for modded cars, and I know I need to keep my receipts and VINs in order. The plan isn’t to all at once go and build this car, it’s to figure out what I need, budget over time, and get what I need, and it could be in a few months, it could be in a few years, but I need to plan it out and figure out what’s possible and impossible first.

You are correct. Up until the TR7, the Triumph TR’s were all body on frame . I have a 74 TR6 which is nearly mechanically identical to the TR5/250. The TR4A, TR5/250, and TR6 all have the same frame and suspension, the TR4A has the 4 cylinder and the TR5/250 and TR6 have the straight 6. If the OP wants more power. The old Rover V8 was a common swap back in the day, they aren’t super common in the U.S., but he could probably track one down. The 5 speed manual out of the Datsun 260/280Z can be swapped in. The Z car brakes are also common upgrades. I think the restomod route is far, far more doable than what the OP is proposing.


That’s a good suggestion. I’m not going for power at all, I actually more want to make it a decent enough commute car, which my dad suggested to do an engine swap for a 4 cylinder, like in earlier Camry’s. And doing some sketches of what I was thinking, the front and back end would look different from the TR250s front and back, but only in terms of lights and some body shaping. So, modding a similar car is probably a much better idea then completely tearing apart and building a new car.

If you have experience building custom cars and can do most all the work yourself, figure your time and budget to the penny. The double the budget and quadruple the time.

If you need to learn the skills to do this, take your budget and double it again. Quadruple the time again.

If you are paying a shop for this, assume the bill will be in the 6 figures.


That’s good advice, I’ll be sure to take that in for everything I do with this and future car projects I plan on doing. Budgeting is important, and that seems like a good rule to go by.

I think you’d be better off choosing an engine was designed to be mounted longitudinally. The Camry, being front wheel drive, will have transversely mounted engines, both the four and the six cylinder engines in the 99 Camry were never used in front engine- RWD applications so finding a transmission that will bolt up to them might be difficult. My knowledge on what bellhousings they use is limited, so it may turn out not to be an issue

1 Like

I had a neighbor in the in the mid 50s that built a heautiful aluminum sports car in his one car attached garage. It had a
tube frame like the “Birdcage” Masaratti that was all the race back then. he formed the body panels on an English wheel and all the mechanical bits came from a wrecked Jag XK120.\

In my state , if you start with a real car, the emissions and safety standards are of the real car and year of that car and in his case it was registered as a 195?, Jag XK120 special.

1 Like