Its been 12 weeks in the garden of Marlinspike. Thanks to the car rally organised by Joylon Wagg’s Vagabond Car Club. It brings out the details to which Herge went while drawing the various Tintin stories. This parking lot is full of the best and most popular vehicles of the time. To a person not very keen on cars, its just the last frame of the book “The Red Sea Sharks” which is full of a large number of colourful cars. But to a keen eye it represents a immense effort to capture the motoring world of the time. The next car in the parking lot is car number 36, a green roadster. This car is non other than the famous Triumph TR3. A cheap and happy runabout which was great fun to drive and which fired the enthusiasm for affordable sports cars from Britain.
The TR3 was manufactured by Standard Motor Company from 1955 to 1962. It came in three versions, mostly cosmetically different, the TR3 , TR3A and TR3B. This car was manufactured in UK, Australia, Belgium and South Africa. However, its biggest market was the USA where it satisfied the American driver’s insatiable thirst for some open top wind in the hair driving. The car was light, fast and handled well making it a fun car to have. It was offered as an open top two seater roadster, however, the options list included an additional rear seat or a bolt on hard top also. It had simple interior which was functional, there were no windows and the doors had been shaped such that the driver and passenger could easily rest their hands on the doors. It came with options like a heater, which was not very effective, a radio and an electrically operated overdrive function on three of the four gears. This function was operated from a switch provided on the dashboard.
This car was powered by a 1,991 cc (121.5 Cu-inch) inline four cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine. All the four cylinders breathed through one inlet and one exhaust valve and sipped petrol through two SU H-6 carburetors. These engines produced initially 95 and later 100 BHP at 5,000 rpm. It also churned out 159 N-m (117 ft-lb) of torque at 3,000 rpm. All the power and torque was transferred to the rear wheels through a manual four speed gear box. This power was enough to propel the 904 Kg (1,993 lb) car to a top speed of 169.5 km/h (105.3 mph). The engine could accelerated the car from 0 to 60 mph (0-97 km/h) in 10.8 seconds. If you took your TR3 for a drag race, you could beat any car covering the quarter mile in more than 18.1 seconds.
The TR3 was a small car measuring 3,835 mm (151″) in length, 1,422 mm (56″) in width and just 1,270 mm (50″) in height. The front suspension comprised double A-arms, coils springs and tube shock-absorbers. You could opt for an anti-roll bar also. The rear suspension comprised conventional leaf springs supporting a solid axle. The wheels could also be ordered with either 48 or 60 spoke wire wheels. Stopping power was provided initially by drum brakes on all wheels. However, from 1956 onward disc brakes were provided in the front wheels making them the first British sports cars to sport one.
The TR 3 was pretty successful in motorsports, no wonder it found a place in Joylon Wagg’s rally parking lot. These cars won six victories in the “Coupes des Alpes” awards. They successfully participated in rallies like RAC, Monte Carlo, Circuit of Ireland, International Tulip etc and Liege-Rome-Liege, Tour de France races. They were extremely popular in continental hill climbs as also endurance races like the Mille Miglia and 12 Hours of Sebring.