Simanaitis Says

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“AS YOU PROBABLY know,” R&T wrote in June 1956, “the TR-3 is not actually a new car…. The fact that the basic car remains the same is a credit to the Standard Motor Co., Ltd., of Coventry, and speaks volumes for the original design—one which has proved exceedingly sound and reliable both in normal driving usage and in competition. 

High praise indeed. Here are other Triumph TR-3 tidbits from R&T, June 1956.

No More “Dished-in Look.” Its grille made the car instantly recognizable from any front angle; the TR-2 introduced at the 1952 London Motor Show left this opening unadorned. 

This and other images from R&T, June 1956.

Rear views of the Triumph roadster were largely unchanged, though refinements had been made: “A very pretty fiberglass top is now available for $150 extra…. There are improved side curtains [What are side curtains, Grandpa?], rigid and snug fitting, with the window part made in two sections of plexiglass; the front half is fixed, but the rear half slides forward for ventilation, and drafts are cut to a minimum. Below the window is a flap for arm signals.” 

Arm signals, Grandpa?

Horsepower Up, Torque Barely So. The TR-3’s 1991-cc pushrod overhead-valve inline-four’s 100 hp was an 11-percent increase from the TR-2, but its of torque was a measily 1 ft.-lb. more than previously.

A tidy underhood region, where the engine isn’t dramatically larger than the battery.

Theories of Dynamics. Generally, acceleration is dictated by torque; top speed, by horsepower. Thus, R&T noted, “… the Tapley readings and acceleration times are substantially the same for the two cars.” 

What’s a Tapley reading, Grandpa? Go read “Still Off-Scale After All These Years,” Grandpa replied.

By the way, the TR-3’s 0-60 mph in 12.0 seconds was quite spirited for 1956: The DKW 3-6 sedan tested for the same issue took 25.5 seconds to reach this same speed. The Porsche Speedster and Coupe tested in January 1956 took 13.9 and 15.0 seconds, respectively. 

One-and-a-half for four in advertising hype isn’t all that bad

R&T got 26/32 mpg and noted “Fuel consumption figures for the Triumph are, nevertheless, very good by and large—much better in fact, than quite a few 1500 cc cars we could name.” 

R&T didn’t name them, but one begins with M and ends with G.

Of the ad’s “your best fun and family sports car buy,” R&T said, “Another optional extra is that all-important (to the family man) rear seat, which, though by no means spacious, is not as cramped as you might think. It can probably tip the scales in the Triumph’s favor for a lot of ‘borderline’ potential buyers.” 

I am impressed by the ad’s progressive photo showing Mrs. Family Man at the wheel. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021

8 comments on “TRYING TRIUMPH’S TR-3

  1. Mark W
    January 28, 2021

    You forgot the biggest grandpa question – what’s a Triumph, grandpa?

    • simanaitissays
      January 28, 2021

      Ha. A Standard question.

      • Mark W
        January 28, 2021

        I get that too….

  2. Andrew G.
    January 28, 2021

    Touché, Dennis, you score again! I got to drive a TR-3A once in the early eighties, as a favor to a relative who needed to move their project car. The “task” involved a top-down drive on a sunny morning over several miles of mountain highway. The Triumph’s engine was much torquier and the motorcar lighter than the new sports import I owned, so soon after launch, I was shocked to find I had already hit the speed limit. The tires looked skinny, but the taller wheels nonetheless tracked like the car was on rails. The low slung seat and door cutouts put me in touching distance of the pavement. What sensuous fun — thank you for reminding me of that glorious summer day!

    • simanaitissays
      January 28, 2021

      Thanks, Andrew, for your kind words. And especially for your recollections.

  3. Michael Rubin
    January 28, 2021

    That TR-3 so-called rear seat looks only a skosh smaller than the one in the Morgan Plus Four 4-seat “Family Tourer.” Only fit for people under 5-0, preferably well under. Our pooch likes it, though, and it’s spot on for picnic provisions.

    • simanaitissays
      January 28, 2021

      Having had adult friends riding back there in our Morgan Family Tourer, I can vouch for its enhanced space compared to the TR-3’s kiddy seats. The principal disadvantage of riding back there in the Morgan was sitting so absurdly high that one felt like a parading dignitary.

  4. -Nate
    February 15, 2021

    A good looking car IMO and I’m an Austin man .

    A fiend of mine has one of these that’s battered but un bowed “The Blue meanie” and has driven it every where for decades .

    Because the engine is the same one used in Massey – Ferguson tractors (!) he replaced the Triumph insignia on he front with a M-F one….

    $150 for the fiberglass top was serious money in 1956 ~ well over what many Americans made in a week .


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