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1962 TRIUMPH TR-4—DOES A SPIFFY ITALIAN SUIT SUFFICE?

“FOR NEARLY A DECADE,” R&T noted in February 1962, the Standard-Triumph Company has been manufacturing its TR-series sports cars and, of course, has sold them in substantial numbers.” Good performance and moderate price were both cited as reasons for this.

However, R&T continued, “… it has all been done without departing materially from the TR-2 introduced in 1953 and (the VW success story notwithstanding) no company can offer the public the same thing, year after year, without suffering some consequences.”

What About a Spiffy New Italian Suit? “In the area of bodywork,” R&T observed, “there is no doubt that the TR-4 is all new. The shape was styled, we are told, by the Italian, Michelotti, and though the body is rather attractive in some respects, it fails badly in others.” 

This and other images from R&T, February 1962.

R&T wrote, “It is an improvement over the blunt and businesslike TR-3 (the TR-3 is continued, by the way) but the prototype car Standard-Triumph itself produced for Le Mans a couple of years ago comes off better.”

Here’s the car they had in mind. Image from hagerty.com.

“On strictly practical grounds,” R&T said, “there is no disputing the worth of the new bodywork. The car’s squared-off stern provides the space for a relatively large luggage locker and a couple of much-needed inches of width have been added to the interior.”

Above, an ample TR-4 trunk. Below, a cockpit “contributing a lot of creature comfort.” 

Goodbye, Side Curtains; Goodbye, Cold Kidneys. “The coming of true civilization,” R&T announced, “was most apparent in the provision of roll-up windows. Naturally, the side window arrangement has eliminated the cutaway door, and some hard-core enthusiasts will object to that. Nevertheless, most people do not really care for that cold-wind-on-the-kidneys effect and will consider the new doors, with or without sliding windows, a definite improvement.’’ 

Roadster Tradition Retained. “Our enthusiasm for the side windows was largely dissipated in the struggle that ensued the first time we attempted to erect the top. This top is weather-tight, has large windows and offers good vision astern but, by actual count, there were no less than 29 snap fasteners, a pair of hooks, and a long metal slide—all of which must be worked in proper sequence before the top-bows are locked up into place.”

“Time spent in ‘drill’ would make the job reasonably quick,” R&T conceded, “but it does seem there is room for improvement in the basic system.” 

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider of the same era comes to mind.

Sporting Behavior. R&T reported, “At any speed, but particularly when accelerating hard, the engine noise is a bit harsh and an unfortunate resonance occurs at 60 mph. This appears to be caused by the muffler and some owners would probably prefer a quieter system, though the present decibel level is definitely very ‘sporting.’ ”

“The engine used in the TR-4,” R&T observed, “is the same reliable and somewhat noisy unit found in the TR-3” And, as noted in Wikipedia, originally “designed for use by the Ferguson TE20 tractor.” 

TR-4 powerplant. A less than kind wit suggested, “the same old tractor engine, repainted.” Ouch.

“In driving, we discovered the same mixture of good points and pure aggravation that characterizes the rest of the automobile…. Handling proved to be quite good: extremely stable and forgiving, but with an unfortunate tendency to dance and skitter to the outside whenever a bumpy corner was negotiated with any vigor.”

R&T’s Conclusion. “The TR-4 offers excellent performance at a moderate initial cost and a sporting driver would search for a long time to beat the combination. And, in spite of our criticisms of the car…. we think Standard-Triumph has a real winner here, if production can keep up with demand.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022 

2 comments on “1962 TRIUMPH TR-4—DOES A SPIFFY ITALIAN SUIT SUFFICE?

  1. George Phillips
    January 5, 2022

    I had one of these. I autocrossed it with good success. The later versions had irs which gave oversteer when pushed to the limit. Looking at the performance specs this morning gave me a giggle. A Prius is faster.

  2. Jack Mason
    January 5, 2022

    My first car was a used ’61 TR-4. My dad wanted me to get a Corolla. We agreed to disagree.

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