TR is short for Triumph Roadster. For the enthousiasts the TR6 is the last real Triumph. The TR1 up to the TR8 are built between 1952 and 1981.
In 1902 Triumph, like many car manufacturers, starts with the production of motorcycles. A branch of the company that is still very much alive today. Only two years after buying car manufacturer Dawson in 1921, Triumph commences to build rather traditional motorcars. They are not a large success. In 1925 their cars get more modern features, like Lockheed hydraulic brakes, the first on a British automobile. New management is installed in 1933. Luitenant Colonel Holbrook is in charge. Donald Healey is on engineering and Walter Belgrove on design. The start a series of cars with both 4 and 6 cilinder Gloria Coventry Climax engines.
Despite the fact dat by now Triumph builds innovative and luxurious cars (think window washers, adjustable steering column, twin brake circuits and an automatic greasing system), financially things do not go as planned. Sales drop despite the ambitious sportscar Healey comes up with. The Dolomoit, inspired on the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300. The car futures a supercharged 8 cilinder engine with double camshafts and 140 bhp. A great car that gives the best sports cars of the era a run for their many. Still it fails. It is simply to expensive for the clientele.
As a car manufacturer Triumph gets disconnected from the motorcycle division and is sold to Sir John Black, chairman of Standard Motor, in 1945. Sir John would like to take on Jaguar, to whom he has been selling cars since the 1930’s. Triumph’s early post war models however look backdated to say the least. Aware of the booming market for open sports cars, Standard Triumph wants a slice of the huge American market too. To compete with MG they develop the TR-series. Better performance for roughly the same money.
The 1951 TR1 never outgrows the prototype stadium. It still looks a lot like its predecessor, the Triumph 2000 Roadster. The project is taken from the drawing board and replaced with the much more modern and hugely improved TR2. With a 90 MPH top speed it is 10 MPH faster than the MG. The car becomes an instant success. In just three years time 8000 examples of the TR2 are sold. The upgraded TR3 sells even better with almost 17.000 examples between 1955 and 1957. The cosmetically enhanced TR3A sells nearly 60.000 cars from 1958 until 1960!
Meanwhile the competition doesn’t just sit back. MG launched the ‘A’ and Healey has it’s own sporty number. Standard Triumph turns to an Italian designer to create a more modern and more comfortable body shell. Michelotti does a great job on the 1961 TR4. The all new design is at the base of Dennis Walter’s car. Sporting the characteristic bump in the bonnet, needed to house the double SU carburetors. Meanwhile Standard has to close the books and is sucked up by the ever expanding Leyland Cars and Trucks. Leyland gets the profits of Triumph’s new model, selling almost 70.000 cars. In 1965 a new chassis arrives with independent rear suspension. The TR4A IRS is the last TR4 in line.
While the body is up to date, the old 4 cilinder Vanguard engine, yes, the same one Ferguson uses in his tractors, needs replacement. Buyers want more power than the 104 bhp available. They want more modern horses. Especially since Ford introduced the Mustang on the US market with both 6 and 8 cilinder engines. The solution comes with the 6 cilinder engine from the Vanguard III. Fuel injection takes it to 150 genuine British racing horses. Like Dennis says, ‘ they’re pretty decent in modern traffic, but back then it was one of the fastest sports cars on the road’. The TR4A chassis is modified and used with the existing bodywork. The TR5 is born. In the US a carburetor version is sold as the TR250. Since the appearance of the car is a little back dated, only 10.000 are sold.
Triumph needs a design upgrade and turns to Karmann in Germany. They take the round shapes op the Michelotti design and give it a more boxy front and rear end. The 6 cilinder engine remains the same and the new car is baptised TR6. With a top speed of 190 km/h and acceleration from 0-100 in just under 9 seconds it is a fast sports car. Many Triumph enthousiast consider the TR6 the last real TR in the range. The model, of which the car in this move is a very early example, sells up to 94.000 cars until production ends in 1976.