Triumphs from the 1950s and ’60s have always played second fiddle to prettier and more powerful Austin-Healeys and prettier and far less brawny MGs. Lately, though, collectors in the UK, and more recently in the U.S., seem to be rediscovering the merits of owning a TR.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, owning a TR meant a cut-down door side curtain TR2 or TR3. Their 2-liter engines (which MG geeks enthusiastically point out were derived from a Ferguson tractor motor) was tough, torquey and more powerful than the engines MG was putting in its cars at the time. Triumph was also the first adopter of disc brakes in a popularly-priced car. Side curtain TRs are charming and will keep up with modern traffic. Their replacement — the Michellotti-styled TR4 — was evolutionary mechanically, but added a few updates including roll-up windows and a pretty Italian body.
All of the four-cylinder TRs have been historically undervalued, and there have been signs that this is about to end. Gooding and Company got nearly 50 grand for a TR3 in Scottsdale this past January, and collection of TRs sold for huge money at a UK auction this past October. Performance-wise, they stack up nicely against Healeys and will dust any pushrod engine MGA of the period. The most desirable four-cylinder models are the earliest, long-door TR2s, the TR3B (the old side curtain TR was brought back for a time when the U.S. dealer network panicked at the sight of the modern TR4) and the TR4 with the unique Surrey Top option.