Thursday, October 30, 2014

Triumph TR2: Ugly, But Popular

The Triumph TR2, produced 1953-1955, was intended to be built on the cheap.  It was a response to the success of the MG TC/TD in America, a gamble that a sports car from Triumph could bring in a useful amount of foreign exchange to an England still recovering economically from World War 2.

Background sources on the TR2 can be found here and here.  They don't give a date when the design and engineering processes for the TR2 began, but it was probably around 1950, two years before the car was revealed at the 1952 Earls Court Motor Show.  The TR's market niche was between the MG T series and the Jaguar XK120, a wise decision.

Standard Motor clearly thought a Triumph sports car launch was risky, so body fabrication was made as inexpensive as possible.  The result was ugly styling.  Even so, the design didn't seem to hurt TR2 sales.  The car was peppy and got good reviews, so apparently buyers disregarded the car's looks.


A general view of the TR2.  It features sports car styling details de rigueur around 1950: flow-though fenders that fall off to the rear with an up-kick rear fender and low-cut doors.  The bug-eye headlamps are very 1930s and the hole for the radiator opening are results of the small budget.

I include this Mechanix Illustrated page because it shows the TR's rear, home to the spare tire and some space for luggage.  Tom McCahill was the father of American magazine car testing.  He was a colorful, opinionated writer and his many fans (including young me) happily awaited each month's report.  Note that the review's sub-head focuses on performance.

The TR2 doesn't look all that bad when viewed from the side.  I would prefer the front-rear fender intersection to be at least six inches (15 cm) higher.  That dark area behind the driver is part of the tonneau cover.  Like the MG Ts, the TR lacks roll-up side windows; weather protection was a canvas top and side curtains.  In those days, American fans held that primitive cockpit conditions were a necessary, even desirable, part of having a sports car.

Happy TR2 fans on what seems to be a California beach.

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