Tuesday 16th July 2019,

Triumph TR4 1961 – 1965

In 1959 Triumph had opened a new `super-factory` in Speke, Liverpool. This factory had the capacity to produce 100,000 now classic cars per year although, in reality, it never produced more the 30,000. This was the beginning of the end for the British motor industry.

Poor management and even worse relations with the workforce soon spread to every big auto manufacturer in the industry. In December 1960 Leyland Motors took over Standard-Triumph and the rest is history. Leyland and later, British Leyland did what it was best at, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It took quite a long time to kill Triumph but Leyland persisted and finally achieved it.

This was the atmosphere that Triumph TR4 was born into. If it had been a lesser sports car and if it`s pedigree had been less impressive it would probably have failed. However, it was deservedly appreciated as a fine sports car. TR4 was born out of the superb Triumph TR3B and was virtually identical to it mechanically. TR4 was superseded by the improved and excellent TR4A in 1965.


The separate, ladder-frame chassis was still used, it was light and rigid. Coil and wishbone front suspension was utilised with a live axle and semi-elliptic springs at the rear. Telescopic dampers were fitted to the front with an anti-roll bar. Lever-arm dampers were still fitted to the rear suspension. Steering gear of the TR4 was a new rack and pinion system, giving the car 2.5 turns lock to lock. Lockheed disc brakes were fitted to the front as standard, drum brakes were fitted to the rear. The TR4`s braking and handling was excellent. Wheels were 15” and 48-spoked wire wheels were an optional extra.


The indestructible Vanguard 2138 cc inline 4-cylinder OHV with a three-bearing-crankshaft was still the best in it`s class. It had been up-rated with a `high-port-head` a larger inlet manifold which improved the `grunt-factor`. With the bigger twin SU carburettors it performed very well. The compression ratio was 9:1 pushing out 100 bhp. Triumph`s excellent, all-synchro, 4-speed gearbox with optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive on the top three gears was offered. This gave the Triumph TR4 seven forward ratios. Gear selection was tight and positive.


New steel, Michelotti designed body replaced the traditional `Barchetta` styling. With the design came `normal` doors so wind-up windows were now fitted. The interior was now warm and quieter, which made a nice change. For the first time anywhere fascia ventilation vents were fitted. Another `first` was a revolutionary hardtop. Five years before Porsche fitted the `Targa-top` to the 911 Triumph offered it on the TR4!

This needs investigation and explanation. A basic soft-top was standard equipment but the options were something else! The first option, targa-top, had a fixed rear window in a rigid frame and a removable steel panel covering the cock-pit. The first 500 cars had an aluminium panel but this was quickly replaced by cheaper steel. A roll-over bar was integrated into the rear-window frame.

The second option was the `Surrey Top`, which was, in effect, a soft vinyl roof panel stretched between the front and rear window frames in place of the steel panel. The purpose of this option was to preserve the storage space in the boot.

Targa tops are great to live with but they tend to spoil the aerodynamics when the car is open. The rear window acts like an air-brake. However, the US market loved it and it sold very well. The TR4 had a large boot capacity and full-width chrome bumpers were fitted.

For Triumph, the Barchetta days were over. However, the Michelotti design soon won a new market with it`s modern innovations. Those who remember the TR4 will agree with the author`s opinion that it was a great British sports-car.

The Triumph TR4 had one major problem though. Rust-prevention was not a priority in 1961 and many TR4s perished due to attack by the voracious `tin-worm`. There are still many examples lying around waiting to be re-built. New parts are available and most cars would be still in a reasonable mechanical condition making a great combination for a classic car to own.

Triumph TR4 1961-1965 Specs
Body Type2 seater convertible, targa
Engine PlacementFront
Drive TypeRear wheel drive
Cargo VolumeBig enough to take the Targa top panels
Engine2.1 Vanguard OHV 8V
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement2138 cc130.5 cui
Power78 Kw105 bhp4700 RPM
Torque172 Nm127 ft. lb3700 RPM
Power/weight109 bhp/t
Top Speed166 km/h103 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph10.9 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Gearbox4 speed manual+overdrive
Weight966 kg2130 lb
GD Star Rating
Triumph TR4 1961 - 1965, 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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