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Triumph TR3 - Nubie Questions

First of all let me say I'm happy to see a forum like this for people like me. I've done alot of web surfing & reading that results in more questions than answers.

So here we go .......

I inherited a 1957 TR3 (or so the DMV paperwork says).
Commission number TS14272.

question #1. I would like to do a nice restoration on this car (I've done several '65 mustangs). What kind of expense am I looking at with this car? The payments on my truck end next month (yeah!). The TR runs, Body is good, frame is solid, instruments all in working order. Needs; floor pans, gear box cover (has a TR4 cover currently), wiring harness, new brake/clutch hydraulic system, paint, front bumper, chrome, interior, top, SU carbs leak badly, etc. I'd like a nice car when done & it won't be driven much at all. I have $5,000 USD cash to start and can budget $350 USD per month. I'd like to complete a nice safe driveable TR in ~1 year. Then continue with the appearance.

question #2. Should this car have door handles? At present it does & appears to be factory installed, yet my web surfing leads me to believe it should not have these door handles.

question #3. Should the floor pans be replace before lifting the tub off the frame? (my experience is with unibody cars)

Well, enough for now. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.


Steve - If you're in So. Calif, join the TRSC. They can help a lot.

If you're in San Jose area, join a local club.

Check the archives by clicking on "Search" above.

See my reply to Alpha below on the thread "Door Sills". Your qustion is almost the same. Check out the Montreal web-site mentioned there to see what is involved with a total body off TR3A restoration. Mine cost me $13,000 in parts for the car plus $5,000 for sand blasting, paint and supplies including the cost for the painter. I took 3 years to do mine and I worked 1100 hours. My neighbour helped out another 450 hours. My TR3A is a concours car that still gets 93 points out 100 at TRA and 383 points out of 400 at VTR.

But why don't you drive it the way it is ? It won't matter for few years whether your TR has door handles or not.

And why do you say you won't be driving it much ? In the last 12 summers, I've driven "Trusty" over 70,000 miles and it tours like a modern car. I've driven from Montreal to Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland about 20 times, once to Oregon, once to Colorado, once to Nova Scotia - etc. etc. And it's still a concours winner (well second most of the time) - and I autocross it too.

Bill Piggott's book "Original TR" quotes TS 18913 (May 1957) as the car that door handles were put on. But we all know that if your car had been equipped with a hard-top, it would have probably had door handle earlier than standard equipment at TS 18913.

Don Elliott, 1958 TR3A, TS 27489 LO, Original Owner since new in May 1958.

Don elliott

Hi Steve: my restoration(a frame of job) cost me just about the same as Don's but because I was retired it only took about a year and a half or so.
I would say that in US dollars it should only cost about 5000.00 to $6000.00.You have to remember also that you are next door to a major supplier of new parts(Moss Motors 1-800-667-7872)and there are great savings to be made with new and refurbished parts.

Thanks Guys,

I see from Don's pix that the floorpans were replaced with the tub off the frame. This is what i would prefer, but was worrie that the body might twist, warp, or otherwise deform when the old pans where cut out.

Guess I won't sweat the door handle thing at the moment. The car does not currently have a hard top. It may have originally. I am unsure of the history of this car.

When i say it won't be driven much i mean it won't be my daily commuter. The car is not safe as it is. The brakes pull severly to the right & the SU's leak badly. The raw fuel dripping in the engine bay is a fire hazard. Otherwise it would be roadworthy. I just feel that now is the time to go through her. If I just patch her up & drive, I'll have too much fun & the resto will likely not happen for a very long time.

I did visit the Moss website & recently received a catalog. It looks like they have everything i need except the gearbox cover.

Looking forward to chatting with you guys again soon.


Steve-If you can't find a trans cover locally, let me know. I have one, but the shipping might be brutal.

Yes Steve, the body will twist and deform when you take it off. Mine was so bad in all these areas that I didn't care as I knew that I would have the back separate from the front as you see in the photos of my restoration.

When I did my TR3A from 1987 to 1990, I had to put in new floors as well as new inner and outer sills. I MIG welded everything that was needed to repair the front clip and then did the rear clip separately.

With the frame on stands (exactly under the front and rear axles !!!), I bolted in the inner sills, the floors and bolted the front clip and the rear clip to the chassis. The bolts were slightly loose. Then I mounted the doors with the hinges onto the "A" posts.

With the prescribed pads under the floors and other areas, I got everything square and adjusted. Then I tightened the bolts and welded the "A" and the "B" posts, the front and rear clips to the floors and the inner sills. Then I took off the doors and welded in the outer sills.

I can't remember how many times I installed the front fenders and the doors to make sure it would turn out right and so Id get the gaps all equal, take them off again, put them on again ........

The gaps are all even and square. The doors shut as they should. And they still shut as they should - after 12 summers and over 70,000 miles of hard driving and long distance touring.

BTW, it's very important that you have the car on its wheels when you do this or use stands exactly under the axle centerlines. Check the photos again. Do it with the engine, gearbox and rear axle in place. If you don't, you may have nice gaps when you finish welding etc. but then when you lower it onto the wheels and install the engine etc. (because of the weight), you will find your gaps are all unequal and your doors may wedge instead of shutting with a nice click.

Don Elliott, Original Owner, 1958 TR3A

Don Elliott

To fully understand the implications, and technical issues of a frame-off restoration you should buy and read Roger Williams "How To Restore Triumph TR2 TR3 & 3A". Moss charge too much for books, so you might want to order from Amazon.
Dennis Nelson

You might want to check out The Roadster Factory for major parts. They have a much better business philosophy, and their parts fit better.
Mike Gambordella

This thread was discussed between 06/02/2003 and 10/02/2003

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