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Restoring a Triumph

Yes, I know that I’m crazy, but I’m considering buying an old Triumph to play with. I like the old TRs and Spitfires. Which of their models are easier to work on, and more reliable? I can’t do my own bodywork. I don’t want to rebuild the engine or transmission. The rest is doable. Any suggestions? Are there any good books on the subject? Any good websites?

Brian, you’ve either got lots of cash and can afford very expensive bodywork and drivetrain restoration, or believe that what’s left, crappy but simple electrics and upholstery are your forte. The only rational solution is for you to buy a fully restored car, which, by the way is almost always less expensive than embarking on restoration on your own, as very few cars can return these costs in a sale price. Plus, you aren’t going to spend years working on something before you ever get to drive it.
Both the TR-2,3,4,6 and Spitfire series are reasonably good fun (in the context of brit engineering and sloppy build), have extensive spares available, have substantial collector clubs and activities, and are not pricy. But before you buy, rummage through club forums to get a handle on common issues and things to look for when you buy. Club forums also offer a more reliable way to get an ‘honest’ description of a car for sale. Stay away from the TR7 (the wedge) and the early flippable Spitfire unless the latter has been modified.

It’s just a matter of MONEY!! It will be much cheaper buying one in good condition then buying a junker and trying to “restore” it…Having a parts car out back is a good thing…I owned a 1957 TR-3 for several years and took 3 or 4 cross-country trips in it…Mine had wire wheels and overdrive, the later a nice but troublesome feature…I got rid of the knock-off spoke wheels…These cars had front disc brakes…If you need new rotors today, that might be be difficult… The battery’s location allowed it to drip acid down into the radio… Eventually, the battery would FALL into the radio…But the driving experience can not be equaled today… It’s gutsy 2-liter engine made it a pretty quick car, easily bested the MG’s…It is NOT a car for rainy weather…If they are not kept in a garage, they are junk in a few years…

I have a 1974 TR6 myself. With any of these cars, everything is pretty straight forward. Most have side draught carbs though and not all mechanics you come across will be knowledgeable about them, as they can be finicky.

And of course there are the electrics. Usually getting a classic British roadster to start after its been sitting all winter involves the sacrificing of three chickens, and dancing counterclockwise around a bonfire on the first Tuesday after a full moon.

Parts aren’t terribly hard to come by. I’ve had good luck with The Roadster Factory.

The TR250/TR6 cars generally command the highest prices, with the TR4 and more desirable TR4A costing a little bit less. Spitfires are generally the most affordable. The eariler TR2 and TR3s can be had pretty cheaply for a basket case, but fully restored examples can command much higher prices. For a running TR6 without too many issues figure on spending at least $8k. One in good condtion will run about $11k. With fully restored cars going for more than $15k.

Talking to a guy who owned both TRs and MGBs, he found the MGBs easier to maintain. Either way, join the clubs, discussion boards, buy some books, sounds like fun!

Brother had an old Triumph years ago and bought a project one to relive the past and do just as you intend.
He also " I can’t do my own bodywork. I don’t want to rebuild the engine or transmission." It sat there between allocated funds to get it running and do body work, followed by the heart in throat and "how far from home do we trip and worry about a break down."
You use the word reliability in the same sentence as an old car built for and by people who live on an island with restricted travel who are willing and capable of doing their own work. If you have deep pockets and patience, go for it. If not, look for a use Miata.
Your inability and/or refusal to do your own work is not the way to approach an impractical to own car without disposable income.

Forget the TR-6… Those were junk. You can’t restore junk…TR-3, 3a, 4, those were fairly decent cars…


I’ll pretend I didn’t read that :slight_smile: The TR6 is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the TR series cars. They have the traditional British straight 6 engine, independent rear suspension, and is widely considered to be one the better looking models as well.

True it was built by people who were on strike more they were actually working, and the build quality itself wasn’t the greatest. But mine was built well enough that it’s lasted for over 30 years. I’d much rather have a TR6 than a Miata

Nice Car, FoDaddy !
Of All Who Come Here To This Site, You Are Truly A Sports Car Enthusiast And A Very Knowledgeable Enthusiast At That !


I might be wrong about the TR-6…What was the wedge-shaped one with a truly junk engine…THAT’s the one to avoid…

TR-7 is the piece of junk/car you’re thinking of…

Yes…I’m so sorry to have disparaged the very capable TR-6…Thanks Tex…

A sweet car form the same era as the TR-7 is the Jensen Healey. Still a Typical British Sports-car, but at least it looked and acted the part.

All of these cars are simple to work on and I’ve always gotten any needed parts for British cars from Victoria British in Lenexa Park, KS.

My personal favorite of them all is the TR-6. Back in the 70s a friend of mine bought a brand new one in dark blue with the Brit flag on the quarter panels and I thought it was just a good looking car all around. My test drive in it was short but it was fun.

Another fun car if you want to consider it is the Sunbeam Alpine. I owned one these little honkers and it was a total blast to drive and pretty reliable. Mine was the 4 cylinder and it ran very well for such a small displacement engine. It was strongly suspected that the front wheels would come off of the pavement by an inch or two when second gear was banged hard enough.
The Sunbeam Tiger would be the 800 pound gorilla but I don’t know how much money you’re wanting to spend… :slight_smile:

"The Sunbeam Tiger would be the 800 pound gorilla but I don’t know how much money you’re wanting to spend… :slight_smile: "

It’s actually quite a bargain when you consider the competition is an AC Cobra.

Good point. Even the kit car Cobras are obscene.
Back in the 70s a gentleman here had an original AC Cobra with the 427 and campaigned it at the drag strips all of the time. It was by no means streetable, huge slicks on the back, and it was fun to watch.

It wouldn’t even spin the tires; it would just hunker down and go. For some years he held the NHRA or IHRA record in his class.
I’m mind of partial to those cars myself but lacking 6 figures of blow money (at a minimum) it’s not likely I’ll ever have one of those.

You can get Tigers for under $30,000. There’s even one in need of restoration at Hemmings for $7000. Many of the Sunbeam Tigers around today have engine replacements anyway. The first listing is the rough on and the second could be a used right off the trailer.