Tuesday 16th July 2019,

Triumph TR3A and TR3B 1957 – 1962

Tiumph TR3A TR3B 1957-1962 by Gwenael Piaser
The Triumph TR3A was and still is, a conundrum. Some people will tell you that it was a facelift on TR3 and as a model never existed. They cite the fact that the bonnet badge still said `TR3` (no `A`) and that there were no meaningful differences between the two cars. However, the author was fortunate enough to own a TR3A in the 1960s. The registration document clearly stated `Model… TR3A` and that document, in the UK, is the car`s birth-certificate.

The final incarnation (later with the 2.1 litre engine) never had any kind of nomenclature apart from TR3 but was generally known as TR3B. The author respectfully points out that he doesn`t need to consult archives on this car, the TR3A is part of his cherished personal history, he was there… he was that soldier! We will let reader decide the validity of the TR3A.

The Triumph TR3A was, stylistically, a great improvement on TR3. There were, however, a few mechanical changes to the TR3 specification. The most noticeable improvement was a new, full width radiator grille which transformed the front from beautiful to something beyond that… an art form. The car was transformed by the new front-end. Other body improvements included external door-handles for the first time.

The Vanguard 2 litre motor (1991 cc) with twin SU carburettors drove the rear wheels through a 4-speed gearbox on which Laycock de Normanville overdrive was an optional extra. Unusually, the overdrive operated on the top three gears giving TR3A seven forward ratios. 48-spoke wire wheels were also an option. The TR3A was a strict two-seater with a little space behind the seats, however, it had a respectable boot capacity.

The chassis;

The separate, ladder-frame chassis was still used, excellent and rigid. Coil and wishbone front suspension was utilised with a live axle and semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Telescopic dampers were now fitted to the front with an anti-roll bar option. Lever-arm dampers were still fitted to the rear suspension. Steering gear was a `cam & lever` steering box. Lockheed disc brakes were fitted to the front as standard, drum brakes were still fitted to the rear. The Triumph TR3A`s braking was phenomenal, no need for servo assistance. Wheels were 15” steel, wire wheels were an optional extra.


The bullet-proof Vanguard 1991 cc inline 4-cylinder OHV was still the unit of choice. It had been up-rated with a `high-port-head` with a larger inlet manifold which improved the gas-flow. With bigger twin SU carburettors it performed very well. The compression ratio was 8.5:1. Standard-Triumph`s 4-speed gearbox with optional overdrive on the top three gears was offered.

The body;

All-steel in a `Barchetta` design. The cock-pit was well positioned, giving the car a nice long-nosed shape with frog-eyed headlights. The new, full-width chromed grille transformed the frontal elevation. The full-width front chrome bumper was still there and there was still no rear bumper, just the two vertical over-riders. A steel, bolt-on hard-top was offered as an extra. The car was still draughty, because of the shallow Barchetta doors wind-up windows were impossible to fit. The canvas side-screens were the only alternative. There were, at last, chrome exterior door handles and a lockable boot-lid.

Triumph TR3B;

The TR3A was so successful that a strange problem confronted Triumph in 1961. The new TR4 was ready to be released in 1961 but Triumph were not confident that the public would like the new Michelotti-designed body. To hedge their bets they produced another TR3A, unofficially known as the TR3B. It was identical to the TR3A except for the power-train.

The first of these cars used the 1991 cc motor and the new all-synchromesh gearbox of the TR4. Later in the year the 1991 cc motor was bored out to 2138 cc, coupled to the all-synchromesh 4-speed/overdrive gearbox. This power-train was identical to that fitted in the TR4. Through 1962 both cars were in production in tandem. Sales of the TR4 were so good that the TR3B was discontinued at the end of 1962. Performance figures for TR3B are shown below.

So ended the TR3A story. Sadly for traditionalists, the TR4 and subsequent models lacked the traditional character although they were fine cars. Any owner will never forget the TR3A, an outstanding sports-car. Triumph had produced 58,236 units of the TR3A and 13,377 of the TR3B. That’s an awful lot of units for a car that ‘doesn’t’ exist.

Triumph TR3A and TR3B Specifications
Body Type2 seater Roadster
Engine PlacementFront
Drive TypeRear wheel drive
Cargo VolumeRespectable
Engine2.0 Vanguard OHV 8V (TR3A)
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1991 cc121.5 cui
Power75 Kw100 bhp4800 RPM
Torque153 Nm113 ft. lb3000 RPM
Power/weight105 bhp/t
Top Speed177 km/h110 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph11.8 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual+overdrive (opt)
Weight950 kg2094 lb
Engine2.1 Vanguard OHV 8V (TR3B)
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement2138 cc130.5 cui
Power78 Kw105 bhp4700 RPM
Torque172 Nm127 ft. lb3700 RPM
Power/weight108 bhp/t
Top Speed185 km/h115 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph10.9 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual+overdrive
Weight969 kg2136 lb
GD Star Rating
Triumph TR3A and TR3B 1957 - 1962, 10.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
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About Bev Roberts

Speed, the smell of hot oil, the roar of a straight-through exhaust and the scream of an engine at max revolutions. They have all been a large part of my life for almost 50 years. It is time to share my experiences with you, dear reader. Do you want to know more? Read on through my `Full Bio` and many articles.

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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.

In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.

As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.

At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!

When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.

I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.

Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.

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