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Car Tales: An Absolute Triumph, The TR2 Roadster

‘The Triumph TR2 was a two-door sports car produced by the Standard Motor Company in the United Kingdom from 1953 to 1955. Only available as a roadster, one that was intensely visually appealing: just looking at an image of it – tough, quick and simple – and you can still hear that distinctive throaty roar and feel the crunch on the gravel as it pulls into a remote British roadhouse.

 

1954 Triumph TR2 for sale
‘In the year following World War II, Britain led the world with its charming affordable sportsters. The TR2 had been introduced in 1953 as Triumph’s effort to catch some of the USA’s burgeoning sports car market where European imports were in high demand – MG, the great British rival in this project, already had shown itself to be a success.

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‘A large proportion of the 8,636 TR2s manufactured were sold in the United States: 5805 TR2s were exported, largely to the USA, leaving 2823 for the UK home market. Thus was kicked off the establishing of Triumph’s reputation and the extremely popular and legendary TR line. You certainly couldn’t ignore the TR2 and Triumph never looked back.
1954 Triumph TR2 side view
‘Behind this success lay an interesting twist. For Standard Triumph boss Sir John Black had failed in a bid to buy Morgan cars. Almost in revenge Sir John decided he would create his own sports car and take on all rivals.
‘His model for this, the Triumph TR2, had a 1991 cc 4-cylinder Standard wet liner inline-four engine from the Standard Vanguard, fitted with twin H4 type SU Carburetors and tuned to increase its output to 90 bhp (67 kW); it had a top speed of 107 mph. A removable hardtop was optional equipment, as was an overdrive transmission and attractive wire wheels.
‘But its inception was not at all easy. Under instruction from Sir John Black, the Triumph TR1, the 20TS, had debuted at the 1952 Motor Show at London’s Earls Court.
‘Reactions had been decidedly mixed.
1954 Triumph TR2 rear view
‘First the car’s cramped interior and restricted trunk space had been given the thumbs-down. Then its actual performance came under scrutiny. After Sir John Black invited test driver Ken Richardson to try out the car, his verdict was withering. ‘Frankly, I think it’s the most bloody awful car I’ve ever driven,’ was Richardson’s assessment, citing it as a potential ‘death-trap’ due to its poor handling and a top speed of only 80 mph – Black had been insistent that the car must be able to easily hit 90 mph.
‘On his return he began to assemble his dream car. The result was what he called the ‘Daybro’, replete with a Sage 2-liter engine and a Meadows gearbox. David Brown’s expertise with gearing – in the blood, one might feel – gave him plenty of contacts, notably with Aston Martin and Amherst Villiers. David Brown finally achieved his ambition in 1947. David Brown Limited, which by now he ran, bought the struggling Aston Martin company, setting it on track for the next quarter of a century.
1954 Triumph TR2 interior
‘And the result was the foundation for a successful line of TR models. The toughened-up chassis had improved the handling, and with a length of just over 150 inches and a width of only 88 inches, the TR2 was tiny, lightweight, and attractive.
‘We have one right now at Beverly Hills Car Club, a gorgeous 1954 Triumph TR2 Roadster – the year the TR2 won the RAC Rally outright – that is finished in green over a black interior. Equipped with a four-speed manual transmission, inline-four engine, front-wheel disc brakes, SU dual carburetors, single exhaust outlet, Jaeger instruments, Lucas-branded ammeter gauge, convertible soft top, side curtains, Moto-Lita steering wheel, mesh headlight grilles, Nankang tires, wire wheels with two-eared knock-off wheel spinners, and a full-size spare tire fitted in the trunk.
‘Amenities include a dash-mounted rearview mirror, wind deflectors, door pockets, fender-mounted side mirrors, and a passenger dash grab handle. This is a charming and exciting British sports car that is mechanically sound.
‘One of the finest roadsters on the market, the TR2 was said to be the cheapest English sports car to top 100 mph – it had a 0-60 mph time of 11.9 seconds. In the summer of 1953 a modified TR2 was taken across the English Channel for a run on the Jabbeke Belgian motorway. With Ken Richardson at the wheel, so critical of its predecessor, a remarkable speed of 125mph was achieved.
1954 Triumph TR2 engine
‘As well as that 1954 RAC Rally win, there were further racing feats: Le Mans, where in 1954 it came fifth in its class, and the Mille Miglia, for example.
‘An underdog to Austin-Healeys and MGs, the Triumph TR2 all the same came with a massive biting bark.
‘And was perhaps even more fun.
-Alex Manos, Owner
Triumph TR2 buyer Alex Manos

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