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Triumph TR2 (1953 - 1955)

Last updated 24 August 2013

 
4
Beginning of a legendary sports car line, and extremely fun
Rock hard ride, poor brakes if unmodified

Introduction

Forever synonymous with the TR range of sportscars, the Triumph marque was in a state of flux when the first of that famous line was introduced in 1953. From that point, it has never looked back and yet had it not been for the TR series – and most notably, the TR2 that started it all off – Triumph as a marque could well have died out long before it did. The success of these sporting roadsters also saw the marque become the dominant partner of the Standard-Triumph concern.

TRs became popular throughout the world, but it was in the USA that the cars really picked up a cult following, becoming – alongside MG – among the most popular of the sporting European imports.

It was MG’s success in the USA that spurred company boss Sir John Black’s to create the new sportscar. The MG TD was doing great business and developing quite a reputation. If MG could become a success in export markets, reasoned Black, then so should Triumph.

The first car to wear the TR badge was the TRX, an abandoned replacement for the Roadster shown at the 1950 Paris Motor Show, but that car was never put into production. The TRX loosely set the template for what would become the new TR2, including its twin-SU carburettor four-cylinder Vanguard engine. The chassis was based on that of the Standard Flying Nine. Although it went out of production in 1939, it was chosen primarily because there were several hundred surplus Flying Nine frames lying around the factory and that kept costs down.

Initially known as the 20TS, the new Triumph was unveiled at the 1952 London Motor Show, it had been developed quickly, and when it came to testing, the flaws were very obvious. Ken Richardson, formerly involved with BRM Grand Prix drove the 20TS and famously called it ‘a death trap’. After that he was invited to join Triumph and help develop the car. Stiffening-up the chassis improved the handling, but styling work was done to tidy up the rear end.

The old car (which became retrospectively known as the TR1) had been reworked into the TR2 by the end of 1952, and with its completely new chassis was unveiled – again – at the 1953 Geneva Motor Show. This time, it was clear they had made giant leaps, because with the revised look and the new underpinnings, along with the power of the 90bhp 2-litre (121 cu in) engine.

The new car may have been better received than its predecessor, but didn’t prove itself until the summer of 1953, when a modified car was taken to Belgium for a high speed run on the Jabbeke motorway. With Ken Richardson at the wheel, a speed of almost 125mph was achieved, a remarkable effort. Other valuable racing laurels followed, including Le Mans, the Mille Miglia and an outright win on the 1954 RAC Rally.

Despite all that the TR2 never sold in the quantities of its rival from Abingdon – perhaps because the early cars had teething problems. But the company had faith in its product, and continued development, producing the TR3 introduced in late 1955. 

Next: Specifications
 

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