The Sporty 1959 Triumph TR 3A

One of the best designed Triumph sports cars of all time was the Triumph TR 3A shown in this article. At the 1955 London Motor Show Standard-Triumph of England introduced the TR 3 model. The company produced it’s TR 3 model between 1956 and 1962. The new Triumph TR models represented a break through in the offering of modern British sports cars to the U.S. market.

triumph tr 3

1959 Triumph TR 3A


Triumph had the unique distinction of being a company that went directly from building bicycles to building automobiles in the 1920′s.The company like several others didn’t survive the Great Depression. After the end of World War Two the Triumph name was resurrected into the Standard Motor Company. Triumph was a good addition for Standard as the latter company was producing family cars and triumphs sporty background would prove to be a good fit.

The First Triumph Sports Car

Many will say that the design lines of the Triumph TR 3 sports cars have it’s roots back to the 1930′s. Standard went ahead with developing a Triumph prototype sports car in 1952 which is commonly referred to as the TR 1. This prototype was also known as Type 20TS. An engineer and test driver named Ken Richardson was hired by Standard-Triumph to make changes to the prototype that would become the TR 2. Richardson made significant changes that helped in road handling and overall performance. What was presented to the sports car market in 1953 was a no frills sports car that was fun and affordable.

The prototype that Richardson worked on was changed in several ways most notable was the rear end and went into production in 1953 as the TR 2. The TR 2 was able to reach speeds of 100 MPH.

1959 triumph tr 3a

1959 Triumph TR 3A

The Triumph TR 3 Design

Many will say that the design lines of the Triumph TR 3 sports cars have it’s roots back to the 1930′s. One change from the TR 2 to the TR 3 was in the grille. The latter had the grille flush with the body where the former had it’s grille set in the body.

The TR 3A debuted in 1957 with some design changes. The changes were really a face lift of sorts.  Interestingly enough, the TR 3A car was not badged as such. The model was officially a TR 3. Those that own TR 3A’s have badges simply denoting TR 3.

The 1959 TR 3A  included a full width grille and new door handles. The 1959 Triumph featured in this article also has the optional and stylish luggage rack on the back. The TR 3′s were noted for their low door openings actually allowing a sitting passenger to reach down and touch the ground.

triumph tr 3 luggage rack

Triumph TR 3 luggage rack

The TR 3A of which almost all were built for the American market were used often for racing. The TR 3A was a durable automobile with excellent handling. The TR 3A had a 2.4 liter straight four cylinder engine that when tuned just right delivered 95 horsepower with a top speed over 100 MPH. The TR 3′s are even involved in rally competition today.

Triumphs Solid Engine

The engine was configured with twin SU carburetors. The SU carburetor was so named because it’s manufacturer was Skinner Union of London England. The company goes back to 1905. The first variable venturi carburetor was the brainchild of George Herbert Skinner. An interesting side note is that the word “carburetor” actually is derived from the French word “carbure” which means carbide. Both the words garage and automobile are also derived from the French language.

triumph tr 3a grille

The widened grille on the Triumph TR 3A

Triumph had good success with both their TR 2′s and TR 3′s in as much as they established the Triumph name as a manufacturer of both an attractive and affordable sports car and a solid competitor to MG and Austin-Healey.

The final Triumph TR 3 was built in 1962 as the TR 3B model.

1959 Triumph 3A Specifications

As mentioned above, the 1959 Triumph TR 3A was built with a 2.4 liter straight four cylinder engine. The engine delivered 95 horsepower but could be boosted up to 100 horsepower.

Transmission was a four speed manual with an optional electrical overdrive unit.

The 1959 TR 3′s had front disc brakes.

Front suspension was independent with coil springs and double wishbones. Rear suspension consisted of a live axle with semi-elliptic springs.

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triumph tr 3 british green

Notice the smaller width grille on this TR 3 model compared to that on the TR 3A

Triumph Production Numbers

Total production of the Triumph TR 3A models was over 58,000 vehicles. Total production of TR 3 models which include the TR 3A was over 70,000 vehicles.  Most collectors believe there are less than 10,000 of these TR 3A models still around as of this writing.

Triumph TR 3 Collector Cars

The design of the Triumph TR 3 and TR 3A are still quite popular today. Non restored models can be found under $10,000 depending on actual condition and rust if any.

When you start looking at restored models the asking prices at auction can be quite different. Restored TR 3′s and TR 3A’s may as of this writing carry asking prices from the mid $20,000 range to the $30,000 range.

While Triumph sports cars are no longer being produced there is an excellent support network. The Roadster Factory has a good site for everything to do with British sports cars. Also, the Vintage Triumph Register claims to have the largest number of Triumph enthusiasts in North America. There are also several local Triumph car clubs such as the Minnesota Triumphs Sports Car Club, the British Car Club of the Lehigh Valley and the Georgia Triumph Association to name just a few.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline. TR 3 photo from the public domain)


A Restored 1949 Packard Victoria Convertible

The 1949 Packard Victoria Convertible featured in this article is representative of some of the finest post World War Two automobiles built by Packard. Packard came out with their first post war convertible for the 1948 model year. The Packard convertible is a stunning looking classic car.

`949 packard victoria

1949 Packard Victoria Convertible

The Packard Motor Car Company was well known for producing quality automobiles with excellent engineering. The company started in business in 1899 making the 1949 model year a golden anniversary. Beginning with the 1949 model year all Packard automobiles were built with eight cylinder engines.

The New Post War Packards

The immediate postwar period was a critical period for Packard and the rest of the independents.There were two main issues facing American automakers immediately after World War Two.

One was the pent up demand for new automobiles since all civilian production was halted by February 1942. The second issue or challenge was to introduce new designs and technology which had taken a back seat to the war effort. As a result, American automakers started to unveil new models, and this 1949 Packard Convertible is a fine example, mostly during the 1948 and 1949 model years. From late 1945 to the late 1940′s the new cars sold to an eager public were essentially rehashed versions of 1941 and 1942 models. At the same time designers were at their drawing boards creating a whole new series of post war automobiles.

1949 packard convertible coupe

1949 Packard Victoria Coupe

The 1948-1949 Packards

You’ll probably come across observations that the design for the 1948 and 1948 Packards was non eye appealing. For sure, the “bath tub” design as it was referred to had it’s share of critics, but if you look at 1949 sales and production figures the results were good.

An excellent and very well researched book on the Packard automobile is Packard 1948 to 1950, by Robert J. Neal. This is the complete history of the design, production and marketing of these Packards.

The Packard 22 Series and 23 Series

Packard produced the 22nd and 23rd series Packard Custom 8s. Most easily recognized is that the 23rd series have “pod” tailights, whereas the 22nd series are flush with the fender. The 22nd series have 2 stainless trim strips low on the sides. The Packard 23rd series has a single trim strip about mid-door level.

1949 packard dashboard

1949 Packard Series 23 dashboard

The Packard line of 22nd Series cars was introduced in September of 1947 as 1948 models. When the 1949 models first came out they were essentially the same as the 1948′s.

It’s been said that serial numbers on unsold 1948′s were changed to reflect the cars as now being1949′s. The Packard 1949 23rd series were introduced in May 1949. They were produced through 1950 therefore the 1950 Packards were essentially the same vehicle as the 1949′s.

The 1949 Packard’s had the large “Goddess of Speed” hood ornament. The chrome Goddess had arms stretched out holding a chrome tire. Also shown in this article is a photo of the Packard chrome swan hood ornament that came with the 22 Series vehicles.

Packard’s Problems Not Far Away

1949 Packard production totaled 116,955 vehicles. This was an increase from 1948′s 92,200 vehicles. 1949 was the second best production year for Packard. Unfortunately, the year 1950 was very disappointing for Packard while the automobile industry as a whole did very well. Much of the problem with Packard beginning about 1950 was that their automobiles weren’t keeping up with the competition.

1949 packard grille

1949 Packard grille

One example was their continuation of the long stroke straight eight engine. In general, Packard was rolling over the same cars from year to year during the 1948 through 1950 model years seemingly resting on their laurels while competitors were making much more significant changes. As explained above, Packard came out with two different models, the 22nd and 23rd Series, over a three year span.

Ford and GM both started offering overhead valve V-8′s. In short, a lot of Packard’s problems that began surfacing in 1950 was the result of slow innovation. A good many Packard historians point to the ultra conservative policies of then Packard president George Christopher as being the roadblock to adequate innovation. Dealers had a hard time with Christopher when he heavily promoted the 1948 models when they were still sitting on a very large amount of unsold 1947 models. Over the next several years Packard started losing dealers and this only made their difficulties snowball.

Packard stopped production in 1958 which means not another Packard was built after that time which adds to collector car values.

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1949 packard tail light

1949 Packard tail light

1949 Packard Victoria Specifications

The 1949 Packard came equipped with a 356 cubic-inch inline 8-cylinder engine that delivered 145 horsepower.

Transmission on the 1949 Packards was a three speed manual and brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

Front suspension was independent coil springs with leaf springs on the rear.

The 1949 Packard Victoria Coupe built on a 120.0 inch wheelbase had an overall outside length of 204.625 inches. Width was 77.5 inches.

The 1949 Packard Victoria Convertible sold new that year for about $4,000. As a comparison, the 1949 Packard Sedan which was the highest selling model sold new for about $3,500.

The 1949 Packard serial number can be located on the upper left side of the engine block.

See our article on Locations of VIN Plates and Stamps on Classic and Vintage Vehicles.

1949 packard hood ornament

49 Packard hood ornament

Popular Packard Collector Cars

All of these new post war design Packard automobiles make excellent collector cars. Some of these 1949 Packard models also made it into the movies. The 1949 Packard Eight Two Door was seen on the movie Gangster Squad with Josh Brolin and Nick Nolte.

Out of the 1949 Packard models the Victoria Convertible appears to be holding up as the highest valued survivor. A mint condition restored showroom quality 49 Packard Convertible might have asking prices into the $60,000 range. The 1949 Packard Sedans of which more were produced and sold as of this writing may have price tags into the $20,000 to $35,000 range. Difference all have to do with overall condition and originality.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)